Announcing Gangplank JR Book Club

Gangplank Junior has decidStargirl large 205x300 Announcing Gangplank JR Book Clubed the grown-ups shouldn’t be the ones having all the fun.

Starting next month, the kids of Gangplank will begin hosting their own book club. Each month’s book will target a different age range, from 7-15, though all children are welcome to attend any of the book club meetings. We will post the reading grade-level of each titles, as well as caution parents for any strong language or themes.

Our first meeting will be Tuesday, July 20th at 6pm inside Gangplank HQ. The discussion will be led by Brittany Neighbors, a Queen Creek High School Junior.

For our first title, we will be reading Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli. The book takes place in Arizona, with main character Stargirl Caraway making a splash at her new high school. Having been home schooled for the majority of her life, Stargirl moves to beat of her own drummer in dress, behavior and personality. In this book, Spinelli “captures the collective, not-always-pretty emotions of a high school microcosm in which individuality is pitted against conformity”.

Recommended ages are 10-14. 208 pages.

New staff member

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Hey, I’m Katie Charland, the new Director of Operations for Gangplank.

Last week, Gangplank welcomed me as its first full-time staff member. Though I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many of you through various events, I’ve got a long way to go if I hope to get to know the 2,000+ Gangplank members and fans.

Gangplank means something different to each person that walks through its doors. My journey to this position started over 3 years ago when I began teaching.

Fresh off my bachelors degree in poli sci and communications, I was looking for an in to Chicago politics. On a whim, I applied to Teach for America and was accepted as a 7th grade history teacher on the border of Mexico and Texas. This experience forever altered my life, as I became passionate about nonprofit causes.

After my 2-year contract was up, I moved to Arizona to pursue a graduate degree at ASU. My masters program focused on public relations for nonprofits. In May 2009, I graduated and went off into the world.

And what a crappy world it was. Recession, Arizona unemployment hovering around 10% — ouch. Having become involved in the social media/PR scene, I was able to contract myself out for various small projects. It was during this time I was introduced to Gangplank.

At the beginning, I was terrified. Here I am, a tech/social networking newbie and (gasp) blackberry user, surrounded by the hacker elite of the Valley. Intimidated? Hell yeah.

But what’s great about Gangplank is its welcoming spirit. People love to chat and network.

Not only that, Gangplank is an organization with tremendous potential. All I had to do was ask if I could help plan events for Gangplank and was instantly assigned to brown bags.

Now I’m staff (though still not an iPhone convert). That’s my Gangplank story.

I want to hear yours.

Just as Gangplank means something different to each person, everyone has a stake in the organization’s future. What is your experience with Gangplank? What would you like to see it become?

Schedule a chat with me.

Get Healthy. SanTan Sun Family Fun Run!

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One initiative we are looking to get more serious about in 2010 is physical health.  Especially with Gangplank Jr.  It is time to have a healthier America.  In the spirit of First Lady Michelle Obama’s “Let’s Move“, we are encouraging people to participate in the 2nd Annual SanTan Sun Family Fun Run on April 11th at Tumbleweed Park in Chandler, AZ.  It helps support a great community youth organization ICAN while promoting healthy choices.  Please join us as we walk for our future.

Gangplank Jr Fire Fighters

Gangplank Junior spent a morning with the fine men and women from the Chandler Fire Department.  They went through the training facility and got a glimpse of what it takes to be a part of fire company.

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The got to operate the equipment that paramedics use on the scene of an accident as first responders.  They operated and toured both an Engine and a Ladder truck.  It was impressive to see the rigorous training that the fire fighters go through on a regular basis.

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We look forward to doing something similar with the Chandler Police Department in the near future.

Programming, Circuitry, Arduino, Robotics and Bakugan

What a crazy mix!  We recently put on a Desert Code Camp Jr event as part of Gangplank Jr.  The morning started off by letting kids create their own programs using the Scratch programming environment from MIT.  Then we had a multi-bracket Bakugan tournament with some seriously cool Bakugan prizes for the top three ranked players.  During the tournament kids and adults snarfed on Pizza and got a mental break.

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After lunch the kids got to make pipe cleaner bugs.  Then the group (over 30 kids) split into two groups.  One group went to a lecture by @DocProfSky, one of their peers, who taught them about Arduino and basic electronic principles.  The other group split off to program Lego NXT Mindstorm robots.  After an hour the groups switched places.  The event ended up being better than expected and we look forward to more in the near future.

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