First MISSion Innovation marathon for climate change set for Saturday

Wednesday September 19, 2018 0 comments Tags: Fort Collins, MISSion Innovation, Pretty Brainy, Heidi Olinger

FORT COLLINS -- On Saturday, Sept. 22, about 100 local high school, college and professional women will take part in a 24-hour marathon at Colorado State University to launch the first-ever MISSion Innovation event, an all-woman innovation marathon for climate action.pretty-brainy-mission-logo

Participating students, working in small groups with the support of technical mentors, will create new ways to reduce greenhouse gases for the City of Fort Collins.

MISSion Innovation invites young women to code, create and collaborate to help the city support its Climate Action Plan and the goal of becoming carbon neutral by 2050.

MISSion Innovation is the latest service learning program from Pretty Brainy, a nonprofit organization dedicated to empowering girls and young women to develop skills in STEAM -- science, technology, engineering, art and design and math.

The climate-focused event isn’t just an academic exercise though, organizers said. MISSion Innovation is designed to bring young women together to innovate new solutions for a real-world problem with a real client.

“We’re doing this to help the community pull ourselves out of a potentially dangerous situation with climate,” said Heidi Olinger, Pretty Brainy CEO.

“We need diverse ways of thinking that aren’t currently being represented, and girls are naturals at engineering design thinking.Pretty_Brainy_logoUSE

“We want to activate the minds of the next generation who will be dealing with the fallout of climate during their lifetime. Quite simply, we need girls’ expertise at the table.”

MISSion Innovation participants will be fully supported during the marathon. Graduate student and young professional women will serve as hands-on mentors throughout the weekend.

“Pretty Brainy taught me to be more comfortable and confident in myself,” said Maria Passantino, who participated in several Pretty Brainy programs in high school and is now studying animation at the Rochester Institute of Technology.

“We spoke on panels, presented our prototypes and advertised ourselves to professionals in the field. This is an experience few people are able to bring with them into college.”

MISSion Innovation will also feature female professors and post-doctoral students from CSU holding 20-minute lightning lessons in topics ranging from the physics of climate change to stereotype threat and behavior change.

“Each lightning lesson will be a punctuation mark of enlightenment and inspiration throughout the innovation process so girls can see the creative, real-world, philanthropic and social implications of climate change,” said Olinger.

To register or for more information, visit