When was the last time you saw a 5-year-old give a formal presentation — PowerPoint-style — about prototypes, design criteria, and learning from failure? Fueled by an improbable mixture of late night dorm memories, manufacturing startup experience, and parenthood, Melanie Flores hatched a child-friendly version of a world-famous MIT class that has received national media coverage. Her work challenges our perceptions of what is possible from children and encourages us to think differently about how we educate them. Her talk will be a dive into the mind of a kindergarten engineer; discover what happens when storytelling, imagination, and design thinking converge.
Melanie Flores enjoys creating learning experiences for people of all ages. A Jacksonville native, she graduated from MIT, worked in industry for 10 years, and was on the startup team for Corning’s optical fiber manufacturing facility in the Charlotte, NC area. She loved training new engineers and watching them grow into strong problem solvers. Seeing her own children beam with pride over their homemade contraptions, Flores set forth on a new path to blend her technical background with her ability to connect with kids, founding a kindergarten engineering design workshop that has been recognized by the National Association of Independent Schools, the American Montessori Society, MIT, the Tufts University Center for Engineering Education and Outreach, and the Boston Museum of Science. She was honored to work with the Engineering is Elementary team to pilot their Kindergarten Engineering curriculum. She is excited by opportunities to break new ground, especially when they involve children, education, and innovative partnerships. She lives in Atlanta with her husband Trinidad and their two sons, TJ and Sebastian.