With Crazy 8s, Future Design School, and Sharpen for STEM

I run a makerspace. This year, we’re learning under extraordinary circumstances, so I’m documenting the journey. “Teaching Kids to Brainstorm” is a play-by-play of our makerspace session on empathy, brainstorming, and ideating. If you’re interested in stories like this, check out Making a Crane and Making a Paper Slide.


A get-started guide

I am the sole UX-person for a startup. I have never been in a role like this before. But, I tend to figure things out. I taught myself code, after all. Here’s how I learned to build a user persona. Thanks for being interested in my journey!

Me and my user persona (via GIPHY)

Understand the value

If you’re working…

purple tiger
purple tiger
Photo by my niece, with permission

In second grade we had open house with Ms. Norwood. It was not open nor a house. It was a dark school. The playground was ready for bedtime. Lights out, wrapped in blankets. I was behind stage waiting for a performance. Was I supposed to be quiet? …

a paper slide

A Covid-Friendly Makerspace Activity

This is part of a series on Makerspace activities that require few materials. Check out the last one, Making a Crane.

I run a Makerspace. We have a dedicated lab, but we cannot use it. Microwaves, cellphones, irons, and iPods sit in boxes labeled ‘Makerspace.’ To observe health and safety…

I am the one not in uniform

A playful critique on camping, scouting, and the future

The magic show

A woman in leather boots and thick socks padded onto stage. She skipped like a comet. Gentle branches embraced her at a distance. People huddled under the blanket of a warm night, in aisles, with an assembly of southern live oaks aching in their wisdom and invisible creatures warring in…

a crane activity in action

A Covid-Friendly Makerspace Activity

I run a Makerspace. Usually, we dig into buckets of electronics. The kids explore microwaves, iPads, CD players, laptops, cell phones, blenders, drills. They take things apart and put stuff back together using shared materials in an area just for us.

With Covid, I have had to rethink the way…

(Fixing stuff that doesn’t look right)

I taught myself HTML/CSS during my winter break in 2019.

That year, I was teaching beginning code and makerspace (thanks to a friend), and I wanted to know more about how all that worked.

While I was learning more about areas like education technology, the maker movement, and computer science…

Thanks, yale.edu


I recently started working as a User Experience Designer at an education technology start-up in the Bay Area. I’m the dedicated, full-stack UX person. I validate the products we’re building and make sure we’re meeting real needs. It’s great!

So, my first order of business was to understand the people…

Posters filled with sticky notes

and finish with a funnel that leads to action

I was speaking with a friend, a translator, about the culture of work in his industry. “Translators spend a lot of time by themselves,” he said, “and there are different translators: technical, literary. They care about different things.”

I held to the idea of solidarity.

Moments at work alone feel…

Phil Mendez

Teacher | Designer

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