Your browser (Internet Explorer 7 or lower) is out of date. It has known security flaws and may not display all features of this and other websites. Learn how to update your browser.


Navigate / search

My review of the Robot Revolution exhibit at the Franklin Institute

Last weekend, we attended Opening Day to Robot Revolution at the Franklin Institute, a new exhibit supported by and The Boeing Company. Robots are changing how we live, work and play. They are poised to become a visible and vital part of our daily lives.

A neighbor and her son accompanied us, and we set off for a learning experience.

I was intrigued to witness some innovative robots that are meeting human needs. From self-driving cars to surgical assistance, from scientific research to search and rescue missions—robots are here to help improve our lives. Robot Revolution offers 40 cutting-edge robots curated from innovative global robotics companies and universities, more than half of which can be interacted with or operated. #partner

Social robots show emotions. Researchers have analyzed how humans express their emotions and use these cues to program robots that simulate human emotions.

We met a robot that held our gaze. ROBOTIS-OP first has to recognize that you have a face. It sees you through its onboard camera; its software analyzes visual data to determine if the pattern formed by your eyes and mouth is a face. When visual criteria are met, the robot meets and follows your gaze. (See photo below.) Pretty cool, right?

Police and military use the Recon Scout Throwbot XT to explore dangerous environments before sending in their teams. This rugged, remotely-operated micro-robot travels through cluttered indoor environments and over dirt, sand and rocks. Once deployed, the robot sends video of its surroundings back to its human operators so they can identify threats.

Here are some highlights of the exhibit:

• Play Tic Tac Toe
My kids enjoyed playing tic tac toe against Baxter, an industrial robot that can battle up to two guests at a game of tic-tac-toe as he showcases his agility and task versatility.

• Make a Face!
We could smile, frown, or be silly with EMYS, a robot from Poland that uses a facial action coding system to mimic facial expressions and human emotions with its head and eyes.

• Watch A Soccer Bot Match
A must see–soccer ‘bots go head to head without any human input in a competition. See what team of robots wins in this fun game of autonomy.

The kids had the most fun when they got the chance to build their own code to move a robot forward, backward, left or right. Robots only do what they have been programmed to do. The Planning for Action area offers kids the chance to advance to a higher level once they master their current programming. We found this to be the most engrossing area of the exhibit.

Use promo code MBROBOT* to receive $5.00 off up to 4 adult, daytime tickets to Robot Revolution. To redeem the code, contact us 215-448-1200 or visit

*$5 off Daytime Adult Admission tickets to Robot Revolution. Limit 4 tickets per person. Includes General Admission to The Franklin Institute. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Upgrades available on-site for IMAX and 3D Theater. Redeemable online, over the phone or at the Ticketing Desk. Processing fees apply when ordering tickets in advance. Excludes holidays. Valid through 12/31/16.

Robot Revolution runs through April 2, 2017. Plan your visit today!

Giveaway for a Premium Family Pass to the First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo

Did you get your tickets to @achildgrows 1st annual #PhillyBabyFamilyExpo October 16, 2016?

We are happy to be a media partner for A Child Grows’ First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo in Center City. The expo will welcome new, expectant and seasoned parents and kiddos!

Exhibitors will showcase products and services covering all phases of life, whether you’re a new or experienced parent!

The First Annual Philadelphia Baby & Family Expo℠ will connect top local and national service providers with savvy expectant, new and experienced parents. This family-friendly event will showcase invaluable resources and products in an exciting and convenient location in the heart of Center City, Philadelphia.

The expo will have seminars, demos, crafts and awesome playroom happenings throughout the day. Be sure to follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to hear the amazing details as we get closer to the event!

We are giving away a Premium Family Pass to the expo (valued at $150). Enter your contact info below for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Summer camp trips with your kids

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of accompanying my kids on their camp trip to Clementon Park. Last year, I went on this excursion with them so I knew what to expect. With other city camps there, it would be packed. There would be long lines.

I know some parents keep their children home from these crowded events. I was game for another trek over to Clementon.

In my opinion, here are some benefits of taking time away from work and going on summer camp trips with your children:

• They’re only young once. I hear this again and again from other parents: “It goes by in the blink of an eye.” Nothing gives me greater pleasure than running around an amusement park with my kids. When they are older, I won’t have this opportunity so I can look back on these happy memories of their youth.

• You develop friendships with other parents. I have made friends with some other Moms by taking my girls on trips and to events. I like to get the girls together with their friends – and look forward to catching up with my Mom friends.

• This is their time to have fun and relax before the school year starts. When my kids start school again, they will have nightly homework, tests and some afterschool activities. There is a lot of pressure on kids these days. The summer is a chance for them to stay up later, spend more time outside at the pool or beach, for example, and just be silly kids.

As the summer winds down to a close, enjoy the last weeks with your spouse and/or partner and children before school is in full swing again.

Career Wardrobe offers deals on clothing to empower people to work

Earlier this month, I attended Career Wardrobe’s annual reception and silent auction #HopeOntheMove. Last year, I enjoyed networking with other local women professionals and supporting this worthy cause. I decided to attend this event again.

Career Wardrobe is a non-profit that uses clothing and professional development to empower unemployed individuals to work. The Boutique provides professional clothing to individuals in transition. Job seekers can shop at no cost with a referral or for a small fee if they are not receiving government assistance. In Philadelphia, the Boutique is open to public where shoppers can find deals on women’s designer and modern clothing with sales supporting the non-profit.

Career Wardrobe recognizes that everyone may need help at some point in their working lives, and thus expanded their programming to meet the needs of the community. In 2015, they opened their doors to men with the Make It Work for Men program, providing dressing services to men in order to assist them in presenting a smart first impression.

The annual evening event includes a Hope Walk of community leaders and local media personalities modeling professional outfits on a fashion runway.

I realized my own wardrobe was in need of an upgrade, as I meet with clients or prospects on occasion face-to-face. So on my birthday, I left my kids with my husband and walked over to The Boutique at 1822 Spring Garden Street to do some shopping.

What a pleasant surprise. I tried on some outfits and in under 40 minutes, I left with three dresses, a pair of jeans and a dressy top. The price tag was a bargain for these five items. I was happy to find this deal on my birthday. The staff was super friendly as well.

I now feel prepared for when I have a future meeting. Yeah! I don’t have to scramble at the last minute for a suitable outfit. I encourage women seeking a wardrobe upgrade—both working and stay-at-home–to check the store out.

I’ll definitely return to The Boutique in the future!

Career Wardrobe partners with community and government agencies to reach those in need of its services throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. The social enterprise is the regional provider of the PA WORKWEAR program, giving women on public assistance access to professional clothing for job search, training, and work.

Career Wardrobe operates Boutiques in Philadelphia, Chester, and Bristol, PA. Clothing donations are accepted Monday through Saturday in Philadelphia, Fridays in Chester, PA and monthly at partner locations in East Falls and Haverford, PA.

The Science Behind Pixar exhibit encourages child curiosity in STEAM

A few weeks ago, my kids were off from school so I took them to check out The Science Behind Pixar at the Franklin Institute. It was the perfect activity to do on a non-school day. We were curious to learn how the Pixar wizards use science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to create their films.

The exhibition consists of eight sections to give both children and adults a “behind the scenes” look into the production pipeline used at Pixar daily. You get the chance to create your own short animations, light a scene starring Dory and learn how Disney characters are built from wireframes to finished animation.

What I found most fascinating was the opportunity to learn about the jobs filmmakers do every day and how they tackle problems. It was an enlightening demonstration of how creativity and imagination is involved in the STEAM concepts essential to the filmmaking process.

A few sections of the exhibit:

Modeling: Artists create sketches and clay sculptures called maquettes to design each character. A digital modeler creates a virtual 3D model of the character, sometimes digitally scanning the maquette. The created model is a virtual digital wireframe of points and edges that connect them.

Rigging: Riggers create rigs for models. Rigs specify the relationships between body parts so that bending a knee will raise the foot, but not move the hands. We learned that a rig defines a sequence of reactions. For example, when a hand clenches, muscles in the arm flex and the skin draws tight.

My kids enjoyed selecting a rig to define arm motion and using a rig to create expressions.

Sets and cameras: The setting of each scene and the way each image is framed convey the context, story, and emotion. Set designers build virtual environments from the ground up. Camera artists use virtual cameras to shape what is on screen. They select the composition, camera movement, and lens type to support the film.

We explored how cameras frame a scene. We selected a camera (focus distance and field of view) and used the cameras to tell a story. The order of a camera selection affects the feel of a scene.

Lighting: Light enhances the emotional feel of each scene. Pixar’s lighting designers define virtual lights in the computer. The color, position, and intensity of each light needs to be programmed to achieve the desired artistic effect.

We had fun adjusting virtual lights to change the feel of a scene.

My kids enjoyed coming face-to-face with re-creations of Pixar film characters like Buzz Lightyear, Dory, Mike and Sulley, and WALL-E. Before leaving the exhibit, don’t forget to take a selfie with Buzz Lightyear or Wall-E (#ScienceOfPixar).

If you would like to purchase tickets to The Science Behind Pixar, use discount promo code MBPIXAR* to receive $5.00 off up to 4 adult, daytime tickets to The Science Behind Pixar. #partner

Disclaimer “*$5 off Daytime Adult Admission tickets to The Science Behind Pixar. Limit 4 tickets per person. Includes General Admission to The Franklin Institute. Cannot be combined with any other offer or discount. Upgrades available on-site for IMAX and 3D Theater. Redeemable online or over the phone. Processing fees apply when ordering tickets in advance. Excludes holidays. Valid through 8/28/16”

Kids will love The Lost Egypt exhibit at the Franklin Institute

A few weeks ago, it was my daughter’s eighth birthday party. Family was here that weekend from out of town—it was the perfect time for us to all check out the new exhibit Lost Egypt at the Franklin Institute.

I was excited to have the opportunity to review this exhibit as my second grader loves science as a subject and both of my kids had been to the Franklin on summer camp trips and remembered the visits.

We walked into the exhibit and the kids immediately ran over to the replica of a life-size camel (see photo below) and climbed into the camel’s saddle for a photo.

From there we moved on to an interactive pottery puzzle, where my Kindergartner enjoyed piecing together the pottery, similar to how archaeologists reconstruct an object from broken pieces.

We learned that Egyptians worshipped a large number of gods and goddesses, and that each one was connected to an element of nature or human activity. Most of what we know about Egyptians comes from their tombs and burials. They believed that life continued after death, so they placed food, drink, clothing and other items in their tombs, where they were preserved for thousands of years. Fascinating!

My youngest was interested in learning about the different ceramic types—pot stand, bowl, etc. On a computer, my second grader explored items to pack for an archaeological dig. Fun!

Entering the dig area was pretty cool. Modeled after an archaeological field site in Egypt, this area explores the tools, techniques and technologies used at the Lost City of the Pyramid Builders site on the Giza Plateau. Stories from the archaeologists focus on life in the field, discoveries, and artifacts. Visitors are encouraged to find a site, identify material remains, and engage in scientific inquiry about the lives of the Pyramid Builders.

We learned that over 100 pyramids were built in Egypt; the biggest ones could take more than 20 years to complete. We enjoyed reviewing the steps to build a pyramid, with diagrams.

Most fascinating perhaps was viewing “Annie” the anonymous mummy and learning the history. A teenage girl’s body was found floating in the Nile; more than 2,000 years later, a researcher examined the mummy, discovering clues about her life and death. “Annie” was presented in an atmosphere of respect, and the kids were curious about her story from a scientific perspective.

The Lost Egypt runs through August 28th, so plan your visit today!

Interview with ROC United’s National Research Director

Due to the power of the National Restaurant Association, the federal tipped minimum wage has been frozen at $2.13 an hour since 1991. As a result, tipped restaurant workers — overwhelmingly women — use food stamps at double the rate of the rest of the nation’s workforce, and are three-times as likely to live in poverty.

A dismal 20 percent of restaurant jobs pay a living wage, and women, people of color, and immigrants are often excluded from these living-wage positions, as reported by Anya Sacharow (April 26, 2013), “Why Don’t More Foodies Care About Restaurant Workers?” Time.

Seventy percent of servers are women. Since a living wage is not guaranteed, and women are forced to depend on tips, they frequently have to put up with sexual harassment from customers, coworkers, and management. The EEOC has targeted the restaurant industry as the single largest source of sexual harassment charges filed by women with a rate five times higher than other industries. See more at:

Restaurant Opportunities Centers (ROC) United’s mission is to improve wages and working conditions for the nation’s restaurant workforce. Teofilo Reyes, ROC’s National Research Director, said that in general, ROC sees a very high rate of wage and hour violations for immigrant workers — individuals not being paid overtime as high as 60 percent and individuals who are forced to work off the clock without pay, and work eight hours straight without a break, each in the 40 percent range.

“For immigrants who tend to work in the back of the house (kitchen) in major cities, there really is no such thing as a break. Even more broadly in the restaurant industry, the people who take breaks are the people who smoke and there is this unwritten acceptance of smoking as a way to take a break,” said Reyes.

Reyes acknowledged that ROC sees restaurant owners accumulating wealth while their employees are not paid a living wage — either the minimum wage or slightly higher depending on the local market. Nationally, the median wage for restaurant workers is $9.20 per hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

There are times when there are overtime violations when the minimum wage goes below the hourly rate or when employees are forced to work off the clock. “A lot of work is done off the clock — when they come into work before their shift starts and then they clock out at the end of their shift and then there is work required to do before they can leave. Overtime and minimum wage violations come from that,” he said.

With tipped workers, ROC sees a lot of tip shaving, “workers needing to provide a certain percentage of their tips to management so they are not allowed to retain their tips. That is where the greater wage and hour violations come from,” said Reyes.

A small group of restaurant owners bring workers over to the U.S. themselves. Some undocumented workers qualify as victims of human trafficking.

There are places that force people to come in and live at the restaurant — “workers accumulate a certain amount of debt to the restaurant to come to the U.S. and then have to pay that debt off to the restaurant. Many of these workers will sleep in housing paid for by the restaurant, and have to work around the clock,” said Reyes.

There is a much higher percentage of undocumented workers working in the industry but that would not necessarily qualify as victims of trafficking. Trafficked workers are “a very vulnerable population, if owners themselves have been involved in bringing them in or helping them pay their way to a trafficker to get them there. The workers have a debt they are required to pay; if they are not able to pay, their families at home might be liable to pay what the owners see as their debt,” he said. This does occur, but the majority are undocumented workers who don’t have documentation and might not speak out about bad working conditions and more common forms of exploitation. This is a different exploitation than the trafficking cases.

Reyes shared these national tiplines for reporting immigrant abuse: National Network for Immigrant and Refugee Rights: 510-465-1984; an OSHA hotline: 1-800-321-OSHA (6742); National Human Trafficking Hotline: 888 3737 888; National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233. is also a good resource.

Image courtesy of David Castillo Dominici at

2X ABC’s “Shark Tank” alum Rebecca Rescate to share her philosophy of entrepreneurship on Monday, October 19th


Presented by Entrepreneur Works & International House Philadelphia (IHP), with Sponsorship from Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

For those who dream of finding a better balance by becoming an entrepreneur – or of pitching their business to the right investor, and getting their name out to millions of Americans overnight – Entrepreneur Works is presenting two-time ABC’s “Shark Tank” alum Rebecca Rescate speaking with aspiring and emerging entrepreneurs about her journey and philosophy of business ownership and work-life balance. A Bucks County-based mom of three, Ms. Rescate’s companies include CitiKitty and HoodiePillow – both of which she pitched to the “Sharks” – and her latest product, Top-Down Planner. The conversation will take place on Monday, October 19th, 2015 at International House Philadelphia (3701 Chestnut Street) from 7-9 PM. The event is open to the public, but advance registration is required ($20 general admission; $15 for students; free for International House members and residents).

The Entrepreneur Works Presents series features master entrepreneurs in a variety of fields speaking about their experiences starting a business and offering guidance to aspiring small business owners. After launching in July 2014 with renowned director and choreographer Debbie Allen on how to sustain a career in the arts, the Entrepreneur Works Presents series continues with serial entrepreneur Rebecca Rescate. This installment of the Entrepreneur Works Presents speaker series is sponsored by Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses, of which Ms. Rescate is an alumna.

Rebecca Rescate

Rebecca Rescate is a two-time alum of ABC’s “Shark Tank”, a serial entrepreneur, and a Bucks County-based mom of three. Ms. Rescate has started multiple companies since 2005, including CitiKitty, HoodiePillow, and her latest product, Top-Down Planner, a “success strategy tool that helps you painlessly organize your time and plan to reach any goal you have.” For more information on Ms. Rescate, please visit

Entrepreneur Works

Entrepreneur Works is a non-profit organization dedicated to creating pathways of opportunity for hundreds of talented yet underserved Philadelphia-area entrepreneurs each year, with a focus on serving low-to-moderate income, minority, immigrant and women entrepreneurs. Our clients start and grow small businesses, create jobs for themselves and their neighbors, and strengthen the local economy. Since 1998 we’ve served over 4,300 clients, advanced more than 415 loans, and invested $1.4M into neighborhood businesses. Visit to learn more.

International House Philadelphia

The Intercultural Leadership Series at International House Philadelphia is an ongoing project involving lectures, symposiums and live performances. The events aim at fostering discussion and offering insight on the competencies, behaviors and specific skills needed to be an effective leader in an intercultural environment. International House,, provides a unique experience that encourages mutual understanding, respect and cooperation among all people. We house students and scholars from more than 75 countries around the world, including the U.S., at our award-winning facility in University City and we broaden the horizons of our residents and the Greater Philadelphia community by offering high-quality arts and cultural programs.

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses

Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses helps entrepreneurs create jobs and economic opportunity by providing greater access to education, capital and business support services. In the Philadelphia region, the Community College of Philadelphia offers this educational experience to three cohorts of entrepreneurs each year. Rebecca Rescate is an alumna of 10,000 Small Businesses, and Goldman Sachs is a proud sponsor of Entrepreneur Works Presents: Rebecca Rescate. Learn more at and

Gearing Up for Kindergarten

It was bittersweet to watch my five-year-old complete her homework packet for Kindergarten. She’s the baby and will remain so. Is she ready? You betcha! I’m preparing for the transition as well.

As we speed into August, I’m looking ahead to the school year for my two: marking teacher conferences on the calendar, reviewing what we need for the meetings and of course – uniform and school supply shopping.

It’s nice to be at this point (the kids will be at the same school in September) but it’s also a realization that our baby is growing up.

When my oldest started Kindergarten two years ago, it felt like such an accomplishment for her and myself. I’ll feel the same way when I drop the youngest off in September.

Do you have a child headed for Kindergarten? If the child is your “baby” or only child, it will be even more poignant. Just look back at how far you’ve come. You are past breast feeding, diapers, potty training—the early stages of life.

And it gets easier. What a transformation it is from five to seven years old! They learn to bathe themselves, take extra care in picking out outfits, clean up more around the house and can even make a small meal when hungry.

You’ll have to prepare your child for heading off to school—is their homework packet complete by the due date and have you reviewed sight words with them? You also may have to prepare yourself mentally for the “baby” or only child leaving for school.

This might not affect your situation but many moms will have more time during the day once they have a child in grammar school. It’s a good time to review your career stage and ponder: Should I return to work full time? Or work part time and line up after school activities for the kids? Continue the current business or start a new one?

What is best for your family’s financial situation, your career as well as your child’s growth? Talk it over with a spouse if you need to. You’re in this together, after all.

Remember to take lots of pictures and a video capturing their first day. It only happens once. Don’t forget to bring tissues because you may likely shed some tears. I know I will.

The Fight for a Higher Minimum Wage

The New York Times recently published a powerful opinion, Can We Finally Treat Food Workers Fairly? by Mark Bittman. He pointed out “how deficient our values are when it comes to the treatment of the lowest paid workers in our economy, the largest portion of whom are employed in the food chain.”

I take my kids for lunch at local fast food restaurants, on occasion – like many parents do. I’ve met or spoken with some parents who work in the industry, like you probably have. Mothers or fathers who work hard to support their families.

The Fight for $15 has become a successful labor movement in the country. Last month, the Los Angeles City Council set itself up to raise its minimum wage from its current level of $9 per hour to $15 per hour in 2020. While the bill faces a final vote, it’s expected to pass. This will be a major win for labor unions and liberal organizations.

Los Angeles followed Seattle and San Francisco in setting its minimum wage at $15 per hour. And last month, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced he would establish a “Wage Board” that allows him to determine whether workers in a set industry in New York deserve a higher minimum wage.

“Through the Wage Board, New York can set fast-food workers on a path out of poverty, ease the burden on taxpayers and create a new national standard,” Cuomo wrote in a New York Times op-ed.

Many restaurant owners are accumulating wealth at the expense of their employees. Unfortunately, many employees nationwide–especially immigrants–accept horrendous working conditions in restaurants for fear of losing their jobs. So they are paid less than the minimum wage, work overtime without additional compensation and forfeit a portion of their tips to chefs and owners.

Let’s hope other cities follow suit and workers continue the Fight for $15.

As Bittman wisely noted, “But if you run a business that’s dependent on labor at the poverty level or worse, and that business doesn’t work if you pay workers something approaching a living wage, it isn’t a viable business, from either the moral or practical point of view.”

Image courtesy of stockimages at