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Spark: A space for social innovators to combine ideas with networks

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Spark Workshop with Killer Snails, LLC
with Mandë Holford, PhD, Lindsay Portnoy, PhD, and Jessica Ochoa Hendrix BUS '09

Tuesday, April 5, 2016
Workshop will begin at 6:30 p.m.
Please plan on arriving 10-15 minutes early. 
Reception to follow at 8:00 p.m.

Warren Hall, 209 (MAP)
1125 Amsterdam Avenue 
(between 115th and 116th Street)

New York, NY 10027
Free event.  


Killer Snails, LLC is a learning game company that celebrates extraordinary extreme creatures found in nature. Killer Snails (KS) creates intriguing learning games using venomous marine snails as a conduit to explore issues of scientific learning. The exciting venom content encourages players to think analytically about the world around them and the many opportunities and challenges present in scientific exploration to become science changemakers.

We (a scientist, educator, game maker and business person) have completed an analog card game in collaboration with the American Museum of Natural History under our first National Science Foundation grant. We recently received a second National Science Foundation grant to develop a digital version that will include a two sided dashboard providing scaffolded feedback to both players and educators/parents, as well as opportunities for “citizen science” opportunities to develop middle school students as science changemakers.


  • Marketing Strategy for Parents & Educators Customer Segments
    • How can we most accurately prioritize and market the value propositions for middle school parents, science teachers, and administrators in both urban and suburban communities?
    • Should we narrow our focus more?
  • Differentiation
    • With a platform that offers both professional development to teachers and education technology for students, how can we best position ourselves to enter the educational market? How do we stand out against our competitors? What are the gatekeepers in the education sector looking for in an ed tech platform?
  • Measuring Impact
    • What metrics should we consider to measure meaningful impact? Usage, time per game, type of feedback given, activities attended offline?

Mandë Holford, PhD is an Assistant Professor in Chemistry at Hunter College and CUNY Graduate Center, with a scientific appointment at the American Museum of Natural History. Her dual appointment reflects her interdisciplinary research, which combines chemistry and biology to discover, characterize, and deliver novel neuropeptides from venomous marine snails (cones snails, terebrids, and turrids) as tools for manipulating cell signaling in the nervous system.

Lindsay Portnoy, PhD is an educational and developmental psychologist with over a decade of experience in the study of development, learning, and assessment of teaching and learning from birth through adolescence. Her experiences include instruction within elementary, undergraduate, and graduate classrooms guiding teachers and researchers to think critically and creatively about the learning process. Dr. Portnoy’s research focuses on the analysis of developing cognition in classroom learning, specifically approaches to questioning as they vary by domain.

Jessica Ochoa Hendrix has worked in K-12 education for 9 years for organizations ranging from the New York City Department of Education to Uncommon Schools. Most recently she served as an educational consultant focused on leadership development before co-founding Killer Snails LLC. Ochoa Hendrix received her MBA with a concentration in Social Enterprise from Columbia Business School in 2009. Prior to business school, she worked in marketing for the Harvard Business Review and The Economist.

Spark provides Social Innovators with an opportunity to explore resources, connections and potential solutions to help their social ventures, by tapping the collective knowledge within Columbia University, and the larger entrepreneurial and social impact community in the New York area and beyond.

This workshop is open to all who are willing to bring their ideas, experience, and connections to help solve social and environmental challenges that these social innovators aim to address.

If you are unable to attend the above events but would like more information on Spark, please register for our mailing list.

For more information, or if you would like to suggest a future Spark workshop, please contact:
Diana Rambeau:

This event is supported by the Tamer Center for Social Enterprise, the Eugene Lang Entrepreneurship Center and the Social Enterprise Club at Columbia Business School.

April 5th, 2016 from  6:30 PM to  8:30 PM
Phone: (212) 854-1649