Mark Barnett

Mark Barnett

Chief IT Strategist

Mark Barnett is IDRA’s Chief IT Strategist. With over a decade of experience in STEM and maker education, he is passionate about equal opportunity technology education. Mr. Barnett has taught science and technology in the classroom, worked for state education agencies, local non-profit organizations and startups helping to advance STEM and maker education. In his time working with schools and other youth serving organizations, he has been committed to showing that hands-on learning and project-based learning improves education outcomes and excites students.

One of his greatest accomplishments was through serving almost 30,000 San Antonio students with the high-tech makerspace on wheels called the Geekbus, which was recognized by PBS as an American Graduate Champion in 2015. Mark also has helped many other local organizations improve their STEM education programs including: The DoSeum, The Boys & Girls Club, Judson ISD, and Harlandale ISD.Mr. Barnett has a bachelor’s degree in science education from Wayland Baptist University and will soon earn a master’s degree in instructional design and technology from Full Sail University- Florida. He holds a teaching certificate from the Texas Education Agency for fourth through eighth grade education.

As a volunteer, Mr. Barnett serves on the planning committee for the San Antonio Maker Faire, serves as the director of education at the Circle School and is a FIRST Robotics mentor. He speaks nationally about STEM and maker education and has presented at the Stanford FabLearn Conference, SXSWedu, National Science Teachers Association and at the Bay Area Maker Faire. In March 2016, he will present a TED Talk a TEDx San Antonio on “Everyone is a Maker, but Not Everyone has Access.”

Mr. Barnett served as director of STEM programs SASTEMIC (The San Antonio Stem Connectory) where he created and started the mobile makerspace called the Geekbus, which has gone on to serve 15k students annually. Geekbus is San Antonio’s only school-on-wheels. Its unique mobile learning unit sparks student interest in technology and the process of learning in a fun engaging way. With Geekbus, team members taught tomorrow’s skills today by engaging teens in maker-centric hands-on activities. SASTEMIC is a non-profit organization that builds capacity in the STEM economy of San Antonio through strategic partnerships with schools, business, industry, military and other supporting organizations. Other SASTEMIC programs include: Maker Camp, STEM Connection Radio, FIRST Robotics–Alamo, San Antonio Youth Code Jam, Cyber Patriot, and littleBits Global Chapter.

Mr. Barnett served as makerspace director for VentureLab, where he founded the first educational makerspace in Texas and designed ongoing curriculum and programs. Later, as a consultant, he developed STEM education programs that include: project based learning, makerspace and maker education tools and pedagogy, design thinking, robotics, electronics and engineering, 3D printing and prototyping, computer programming, coding and video game design, entrepreneurship, empathy and service learning, and custom professional development and curriculum design.

He is a leading team member for Make San Antonio, a San Antonio-based makerspace with a goal to foster innovation and collaboration and give area residents a home base for all their creative endeavors. It provided access to state of the art tools and software not normally found in any other space. He was a leading team member for OpenEd Jam, a three-day international event that brought together activists, developers, educators, engineers, librarians, and makers from all fields. The 2014 conference was a hands-on environment where participants collaborated on innovative creations and uses of free and open education resources.

Mark Barnett also designed and developed custom science focused interactive iBooks for use by Exploration Nation. Exploration Nation travels the country doing authentic scientific research by real elementary and middle school kids. These adventures are transformed into digital, standards aligned, exciting mini-documentaries and standards aligned instruction materials.

He helps to coordinate Texas Girls Collaborative Project Leadership Team, which connects non-profits, K-12 schools, higher education institutions, companies, organizations and individuals across the state of Texas committed to informing and motivating girls to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). Led by the Women in Engineering Program (WEP) at The University of Texas at Austin, TxGCP provides forums, curriculum, best practices and resources to foster collaborations, build capacity of participating organizations, and create a state-wide network of informed and connected informal and formal STEM educators and advocates

Mr. Barnett is an experienced leader with strong skills in professional development, program development and delivery, makerspaces, non-profit management, education outreach, and curriculum design. He was awarded Tech Teacher of the Year for his initiatives with SASTEMIC and the Geekbus by the San Antonio Business Journal and Exceptional Contribution to STEM Education 2015 by the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association.

IDRA is an independent, private non-profit organization, led by María Robledo Montecel, Ph.D., dedicated to strengthening public schools to work for all children. As a vanguard leadership development and research team for more than three decades, IDRA has worked with people to create self-renewing schools that value and empower all children, families and communities. IDRA conducts research and development activities, creates, implements and administers innovative education programs and provides teacher, administrator, and parent training and technical assistance.