Maker Mania #6: Friends’ School, Mackintosh Academy, Connections Academy, DMNS, Zanjibil Organics

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

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Maker Mania #5: Seed.io, Boulder Public Library, Douglas County Schools, Zander Lander, Project Daffodil

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

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Maker Mania #4: Cigar Box Guitars, CNC Motored Bikes, Musical PIC Circuit Board, The Sound of Science

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

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Maker Mania #3: Enabling the Future, Lego Tornadoes, Messing About With Making, Art Parts, Solid State Depot

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

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Maker Mania #2: Tessa iPad Stand, Threshold School, AnomalyCon, Precision Machining Technology

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds. And that means MAKERS galore! Join us here in the next few weeks as we preview the awesomeness that will be at the core of the Faire.

Tessa iPad Stand: The Tessa Stand is the most complete tablet stand invented, period. Pick it up, hold it, try it, and you will be asking where you can get one for yourself.

Threshold School: a project- based, independent 6th–12th grade school opening in Centennial, August 2015. At the heart of the Threshold program are large-scale, highly collaborative pursuits. Whether students are restoring wildlife habitats or producing feature films, they will use real tools and real materials under authentic conditions. The pursuits will genuinely matter to the young people; their purpose will not be a letter grade or a trophy.

AnomalyCon: AnomalyCon is Colorado’s premier steampunk, sci-fi, and alternate history. We aim to educate, baffle the mind, and entertain! We cover everything from sewing to engineering, to mad science.

Precision Machining Technology: Advanced Manufacturing is an exciting career choice for students who love making things and solving problems. Come investigate the world of precision machining at Front Range Community College.

 

Maker Mania #1: Usborne Books, pcDUINO, Parametric POLOC, Edify Technologies

The Faire is upon us, dear Boulderites, Boulderinos and various surrounding Boulderphillics! Or at least it will be upon us come Jan 31 – Feb 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds (tickets HERE). And that means MAKERS galore! More makers than you can count. More than you can imagine. More than you can shake a stick at, though we can’t imagine why you would want to shake sticks at makers. Hey, what is it with you anyway? Threatening defenseless little makers with a stick. Sheesh.

In any case, we’re going to do our best to give mad props via shout-outs to all our intrepid makers between now and the Faire. Barring that, we’ll write about them here at this blog. All the makers previewed here between now and the Faire will be AT the Faire, confirmed in blood, spittle and ink. Or sometimes just with ink. And sometimes not *actually* with ink, but with, you know, an email. So if you see things you like, put them on your list. And then come check ’em out at the Faire! Which, we should point out, is the perfect distraction from a Broncos-less Super Bowl…

Without further ado, away we go:

Usborne Books: Usborne Books & More publishes high quality books that allow people to expand their knowledge and travel to new places through the pages of a book. We have many hand on books that allow you to create new projects or experiments. Come try making a paper airplane!

pcDUino: pcDUino is a $39 DIY computer that is compatible with Arduino ecosystem.

Parametric POLOC: Parametric POLOC – Plops, O (drops), Lines On Canvas is a machine for creating large size abstract expressionist paintings in the style of Jackson Pollock. The mechanical machine tries to replicate the mechanics of drip painting, while the software tries to make rich, detailed, pleasing abstract art accessible to decorate your home. The exhibit allows visitors to take direct control of the painting process. This project is my introduction to physical computing.

Edify Technologies: Teaching kids to love and understand music through composition, with the app Sketch a Song.

 

White House Maker Faire’s Joey Hudy Speaking at Boulder MMF!

Joey Hudy announced the inaugural White House Maker Faire. He is Intel’s youngest intern. He fired a marshmallow cannon with President Obama. He once built a 7-foot cardboard trebuchet  that, “totally collapsed,” he says, when he tried to hang two dictionaries as the counterweight (note the lack of accompanying video link…). Thanks to a generous sponsorship from 3D drawing software, SketchUp, Joey will be speaking at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31-Feb 1, 2015!

When Maker Boulder chatted with Joey and his mom last night, we asked how many versions of the marshmallow cannon preceded the one that famously blasted a puffed sugar confection across the State Dining Room and he said the famous version was the first. “All we really had to do with it is make an enclosed area, pressurize it and have a valve that goes to a barrel,” he said.

Elementary, dear Watson. That is, if you’re Joey Hudy. That’s because, while the ‘mallow cannon may have been Joey’s first of that design, it was far from his first design. Joey knows how to make. And once you know that, you can make anything.

He does his making in a spare room of their new house. “We don’t have basements in Arizona,” he says. But when they moved, he saw they had an extra room and he, “claimed it as my own,” he says. So far, despite Joey’s penchant for cannons and trebuchets the room is still standing — no scorch marks and the drywall is still pristine. “My dad likes to paint the walls and he’d notice if there was, like, a smell,” Joey says.

His dad does data analysis for American Express. “He’s the numbers nerd and I’m more an engineering nerd…and kind of a general nerd,” says Joey, who is taking just one high school class — Pre-Calculus — this winter/spring before graduating from the Herberger Young Scholars Academy, a program for gifted students run by Arizona State University. Next year, he hopes to be accepted and attend the Olin College of Engineering just outside Boston, where he’s interested in innovating the next generation of power control panels — PCPs to EEs in the know.

In addition to devices that shoot stuff, Joey says his favorite projects include making 3D scanners, Arduino kits, and a 10×10 LED array cube powered by an Intel Galileo. You can make a trimmed down version: HERE are Joey’s instructions for a DIY 3×3 LED cube that he published with MAKE Magazine.

That’s great and all, but we wanted to know more about the cardboard trebuchet. For example, why is a trebuchet so much cooler than a catapult? “It uses gravity, you know,” says Joey, succinctly encapsulating in his understated way something essential about making: you do more with less; you understand the basics forces that act on your systems; and then you make it with cardboard and sometimes it works better than others.

We can’t wait to hear what Joey says at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire. Click HERE for a ticket and please join us in being inspired by what is truly one of the most promising up-and-coming maker minds we’ve ever seen.

Play With Modular Robotics at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire!

Not long after opening its doors in an unassuming industrial park building just off Bluff Street in downtown Boulder, Modular Robotics found itself in crisis: every Friday an employee had been running to the suspiciously close Boulder Beer for a pair of six-packs, but now the company had expanded and not only was there no room in the fridge, but, “the six-packs went incredibly fast,” says Christie Veitch, the company’s Education Director.

In the early life of a tech startup, desperate times call for decisive action and now, almost five years after their 2010 founding, a Kegerator sits in the corner. Just before the holidays it was nearly buried in cardboard boxes and tupperwares full of plastic pieces. Down a tight hallway where the Mod Robotics team had recently cut through the wall and into a vacated next-door space are the smashed-together bench style desks of the administrative and marketing team. After our meeting, Christie decided to avoid the hallway by going outside with me and then back into the building via another door.

Chip.Elf

Chip is a Level VI Modular Robotics elf.

But the real work of Mod Robotics is done the old-fashioned way: by elves working with screwdrivers and soldering irons. Here is Chip. He is a level VI elf. They’re no longer baking circuit boards in a fry pan, as did CEO Eric Schweikardt for his PhD project that became the company’s prototype. But after the boards are printed and the plastic pieces molded, the elves snap, screw and solder these pieces into Cubelets and MOSS robot building systems.

That’s the genius of Mod Robotics: the elves do the heavy building so that you don’t have to. Cublets are self-contained inputs and outputs that you and yours can magnet together into robots as big or small as your imagination. The black ones are sensors, the clear ones do things, and the colored ones think, or, you know, at least provide the backbone of logic.

The newer, MOSS system adds the structures of panels, wheels and various other connective bendy bits to Cubelet-like backbones, allowing you to make cars, creatures and other creations that look like real or imagined awesomeness. If you’re an educator or an education-minded parent, Mod Robotics also hosts free, downloadable lesson plans like 10 Cool Things to Do With Cubelets, 10 More Cool Things to Do With Cubelets, and the comprehensive MOSS Instroduction to Robotics Unit.

Christie says that in addition to demonstrating the basics of robotics – sensors, effectors, logic – Mod Robotics hopes to show the power of emergent behavior.

“Each one of these things is just a thing,” says Christie, eloquently, “but when you put them together, you can see how they create complex behaviors – a robot lighthouse that knows to come on in the dark or a steering robot that knows to slow down before it crashing into stuff.”

My experience of chucking my kids (8 and 6) into a pile of Cubelets is that offspring tend to be immediately engaged in a way that creates their own emergent understanding. At first my kids snapped stuff together randomly and semi-noticed what happened, and then their ideas got more goal-directed.

“I want to make a car,” said Leif, 8, and with some experimentation, he was eventually able to do just that.

“I want to make a robot dinosaur that breathes fire at daddy’s butt,” said Kestrel, 6, and now a couple weeks later she remains steadfastly undeterred.

If you want to play with Cubelets or Moss yourself, stop by the Mod Robotics booth at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, January 31 – February 1, 2015 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds! For more on the Modular Robotics manifesto of simple pieces from whence arise complex behaviors, check out CEO Eric Schweikardt’s talk at TedX Front Range, here:

Make Eggshell Geodes With Connections Academy

Look in the hills of the Front Range and you’ll find crystals like quartz and shiny minerals like laminated sheets of mica. Up the Big Thompson and St. Vrain, my kids and I know caves lined with them. Take quartz home and chuck it in the rock tumbler for a couple days and you’ve got a pearlescent stone perfect for school show and tell. But find a geode and you’ve got a dragon egg. There is nothing like cracking open a drab rock and seeing the insides shimmer. This activity from Connections Academy will help you make your own.

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Build With 10,000 Keva Planks at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire!

Keva.CastleKeva planks seem simple: they’re 1/4-inch by 3/4-inch by 4 1/2-inch wooden blocks. But like Lego, from these unassuming pieces, wondrous creations arise. For example, take a look at Keva founder Ken Schel building this structure for Dreamworks to resemble the Shrek Castle. Look even closer and you’ll see that every piece is a simple, rectangular plank. There’s not a lot of complex rules here, just, “No glue, no connectors,” says Schel.

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