Austinite Cristal Glangchai’s new book ‘VentureGirls’ takes kids beyond STEM to entrepreneurship

Austinite and University of Texas graduate Cristal Glangchai founded VentureLab to teach kids how to think like entrepreneurs using science technology engineering and math skills, and now she’s turned her work with kids into a book “Venture Girls: Raising Girls to be Tomorrow’s Leaders.” (Harper, $16.99)

Cristal Glangchai wrote “Venture Girls” based on her work as the founder of VentureLab. (Harper, $16.99)

Glangchai knows a thing or two about being an entrepreneur. She has a doctorate from UT in among other things biomedical engineering. She started a tech company using nanoparticles to deliver medications to diseased tissue, and then was the director of the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Trinity University in San Antonio. She started VentureLab in 2013 to bring her love of trying new things, learning from failure and getting messy to kids, especially girls in the form of camps.

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The book is her way of helping parents understand why encouraging kids to be entrepreneurs is important as well as giving them activities for the encouraging.

“I really wanted to give parents a practical way to empower their kids through the entrepreneurial mindset,” she says.

The book is also full of research that has been done on girls and STEM and how kids learn in general, which is different than what they might be learning in school. Instead of teaching kids how to do well on tests, Glangchai is big on teaching kids how to think, how to be inquisitive, make a hypothesis, do research and work to solve a problem.

One statistic she loves is that 65 percent of kids in primary school won’t have jobs that we can imagine. “We have to teach kids to take ideas and make it real,” she says.

Her concern is that if we give kids only those “hard skills” that have only one answer, if we don’t teach them how to think outside the box, they might struggle at transitioning to the new job market.

“It’s the softer skills they need to be learning,” she says.

There’s a lot of focus on girls in STEM right now. We know that in elementary school, girls tend to outperform boys in science and math skills, but then in middle school and high school girls start to fall behind the boys in the class.

Some of that might be the way we teach STEM classes. Girls are motivated by a desire to help people to solve problems. Glangchai, herself, wanted to be a firefighter as a kid because of this desire to help people, not because of the science of fire. Men and boys, she says, tend to be driven by the idea of innovation or the idea of growing in power and leadership. That’s why, as a study showed, girls do better in algebra when it’s taught as a word problem versus a straight equation.

“Women are slowly making progress,” in going into STEM fields, she says, “We want to get passed STEM. Entrepreneurship helps create confident women leaders in any field.”

Glangchai advocates for teaching entrepreneurship in schools. Some schools are really good on hands-on learning, but many are not. She likens it to coding, which took about a decade to become a regularly offered class.

Entrepreneurship is also good for boys, too. Kids do well when you take them out of their comfort zones and allow them to fail. “We’re teaching kids to be curious as opposed to being afraid,” she says.

Parents can be a big part of raising young entrepreneurs, she says. “Instead of saying to their daughters: ‘don’t get your dress dirty, don’t go play in the mud,’ tell them, ‘to be adventurous, to go out and explore.’ It’s a different way of raising their daughter.”

The book gives parents many different ideas of things you can do to encourage entrepreneurship and out-of-the-box thinking. It’s things like making edible play dough, trying different formulas of slime, rethinking the ordinary Oreo or pizza slice by changing out one thing at a time.

Here are a couple activities that Glangchai especially loves and does with her own four children:

SCAMPER with Oreos

What you need:

Pen and paper

Oreo or like cookies, other food items in your pantry or fridge


Think about a sandwich-style cookie like an Oreo. Examine one.

Start brainstorming what you could do with it. Write down your ideas.


Substitute: What could you change out about this cookie? The cream? The cookie? What with?

Combine: What could you combine with the cookie to make something new?

Adapt: How could you adapt or adjust this product?

Modify: How could you change the shape, the look, the feel of the product?

Put to another use: How could you use the product for another purpose?

Eliminate: What parts could you remove?

Reverse/rearrange: How could you change the design of the cookie?

Then you get to try out making something new with your Oreo cookies and your items in the kitchen.

Repurposed Legos

What you need:

Leftover Legos

Pen and paper

Cardboard box

Zip-top bag


Imagine what you could do with leftover Legos. Draw out a new design.

Gather your Legos and experiment with different ones in your design.

Create step-by-step guide with pictures of your design on the cardboard. Make it look like the designs and instructions you get when you buy Legos.

Put the Legos and the design guide in a zip-top bag.

Then you can promote and market and sell your designs.

In June, Glangchai will be offering a workbook that will have one activity for each of the 52 weeks of the year that families can do together. The RISE (Raising & Inspiring Successful Entrepreneurs) workbook will be on Glangchai’s website,


“Venture Girls” Book Release

Cristal Glangchai will be talking about her book and offering an entrepreneurial activity for families to try.

The Refinery, 612 Brazos St.

5:30-7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Bees, chemistry and more to explore this beautiful weekend, May 4-6


The rain is coming… but it will go away in time for Saturday and Sunday. Enjoy these Austin family events.

Science Mill. Fun with Chemistry. University of Texas Women in Natural Sciences group sponsors hands-on activities. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday. Science Mill, 101 Lady Bird Lane, Johnson City.

Bullock Museum. H-E-B Free First Sunday. Math Happens. Noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Free. Bullock Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave.

Kindnesspalooza. Hear music from The Mrs., Madison McWilliams, SaulPaul, Big Don and Courtney Santana, plus experience a photo booth, magic mirror and more. Free. Benefits the Kindness Campaign, anti-bullying program.  Noon-4 p.m. Saturday. Hill Country Galleria, by the splash pad.

The Kindness Campaign’s Magic Mirror tells kids how great they are.

Williamson Museum. Pioneer Days at Old Settlers’ Park in Round Rock. Learn how to churn butter, make corn husk dolls and dip candles. 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. Free.

Neill-Cochran House Museum. Get the Job Done: Simple Machines. 1-4 p.m. Sunday. Neill-Cochran House Museum. 2310 San Gabriel St.

Finn Holt won Austin Lemonade Day contest one year. Austin Lemonade Day

Lemonade Day. Set up your own lemonade stand Saturday.

Maker Faire Austin. See artists and scientists and crafters make things and make some things with them. $12-$42. 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road.


Austin Maker Faire lets you be creative with the help of artisans.

Sustainable Food Center: Family Friendly Beehive Tour. Take this special class just for kids. 1 p.m. Saturday. Sustainable Food Center, 2921 E. 17th St. $40 with adult.

Wildflower Center. Movies in the Wild: “The Lorax.” See the movie outside. 6 p.m. Friday. $12, Free for children 4 and younger. Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave.

Zach Theatre presents “Goodnight Moon.” The classic children’s book comes to the stage. 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturdays and 2 p.m. Sundays through May 27. $18-$24. Kleberg Stage, 1421 Riverside Drive.


“Daniel Tiger.” (PBS)

Alamo Drafthouse. PBS Kids at the Alamo: “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood.” 10:25 a.m. Saturday and 10:15 a.m. Sunday, Slaughter Lane.

BookPeople events: Michael Fry: “How to Be a Supervillain: Born to Be Good.” 2 p.m. Sunday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Thinkery. Namaste and Play: Sense-ational: 9:45 a.m. (2-year-olds), 10:45 a.m. (3-year-olds), Fridays through May 11. $20 a class, $140 for the series. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Thinkery. Baby Bloomers: Away We Go. Learn about things that take flight. 9 a.m. Saturday. For birth to age 3. $5. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Thinkery. Soap Making. Ages 4 and older. 10:30 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. or 3:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. $8. Thinkery, 1830 Simond Ave.

Toybrary Austin. Mother’s Day professional photo session. 10:30 a.m. Friday. $7 (free for members). Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane.

Toybrary Austin. Daddy & Me Playdate: Make Mommy a Gift. $12. 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Toybrary Austin, 2001 Justin Lane.


BookPeople 10:30 a.m. story time: We Love Austin Authors, Saturday. BookPeople, 603 N. Lamar Blvd.

Barnes & Noble 11 a.m. Saturdays, story times at all locations: “Llama Llama Loves to Read.”




May the Fourth Be With You. 2:30 p.m. Friday, Yarborough Branch.

Saturday Family Movie: “Ferdinand.” 1 p.m. Saturday, St. John Branch.

2 O’Clock Tunes: Rollfast Ramblers. 2 p.m. Saturday, Twin Oaks Branch.

Revenge of the 5th: “The Last Jedi.” 2 p.m. Saturday, Central Library.

“Star Wars: The Last Jedi,” is at the library for May the Fourth Be With You. Industrial Light & Magic/Lucasfilm

Ricardo Parra, Chilean singer-songwriter. 2 p.m. Saturday, Manchaca Road Branch.


New hotline for new moms with postpartum depression

Postpartum Support International has several ways that new moms can get help. Of course, you also should check in with your own doctor, but if you can’t get in right away or while you’re waiting for the appointment, check out these resources:

A 24-hour, 7-day a week helpline. You can leave a message in English or Spanish and someone will call you back with encouragement, information as well as connect you to local resources.

You also can do a Text to Helpline: 503-894-9453. A volunteer will send you back information, encouragement and local resources.

Postpartum Support International also has Tuesday Online Support meetings at in English and Spanish. 

And Weekly Wednesday Chats with other moms and health experts. You have to preregister for them at The first Monday of the month, Postpartum Support also offers a chat for dads.

RELATED: Can men get postpartum depression? 

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Boy Scouts takes next step in opening to girls with ‘Scout Me In’ campaign

Boy Scouts of America announced its new campaign “Scout Me In” on Wednesday. This builds on the program it launched in fall to allow girls to join Boy Scouts at the Cub Scouts level and then eventually at the Boy Scout level (sixth grade and up).

The marketing campaign’s goal is to let girls know that they can join, too, as well as boys that might not have felt welcome in the past.

Every February, Eagle Scouts gather for a reception at Frank Fickett Scout Training and Service Center in Austin. They each get called to the front to be recognized. Mark Matson

“Cub Scouts is a lot of fun, and now it’s available to all kids,” said Stephen Medlicott, National Marketing Group Director of Boy Scouts of America, in the press release. “That’s why we love ‘Scout Me In’ – because it speaks to girls and boys and tells them, ‘This is for you. We want you to join!’”

One big change is that the Boy Scout level will soon be called Scouts BSA rather than Boy Scouts. The organization name won’t change.

RELATED: Will local girls become Boy Scouts? 

RELATED: More boys become Eagle Scouts

RELATED: Austin Girl Scout gets national award for saving father’s life

RELATED: Learn how local Girl Scouts are going for Gold Award 100 years later

RELATED: What does Boy Scouts accepting transgender scouts mean to Austin kids?