Gathering STEAM at home!

Written by Patricia Jarvis, Ph.D. /Bixby School  

We all have a wonderful challenge:

Our children are born as creators, scientists, thinkers, and makers! Yet how do we nurture and foster their natural curiosity at home? How do we create spaces at home that support their explorations and allow for the all important “messing about” and process of discovery?

Here is a short list of ideas that could turn into an amazing family experience!

  • Start with a clean surface and space that can become a maker station in your home. (You so not have to have a large home to do this!). Think outside the box (Do you have an underused table or kitchen desk? Is this an indoor or outdoor space?)
  • Look into possibilities with your child on how to stock the area. If it is hard to decide, use your local resources: the art store, Resource, Pinterest for ideas. What grabs a current interest? Is there something new you want to try out?
  • Think big or really little! Children often enjoy building big or tinkering little. Think about the scale of what they are interested in.
  • Materials do not have to be expensive! Recyclables, loose parts, and natural materials from outside are all great choices to get started.
  • Make space and time for your new area of exploration. Would it be fun to go there after breakfast on weekends or at the end of a long day? Would it be fun to explore with your child before you step back and let his/her creative juices flow? Offer a “maker’s jam” to your child: get comfy in old T-shirts than can handle paint and turn on some tunes-then create, invent, and tinker away!

A first project idea: A catapult!

Challenge: How many ways can you built a table size catapult?

Possible parts and pieces for your maker’s space:

  • Rubber bands (different types)
  • 20 pencils
  • Spoons
  • Pompom balls
  • Craft sticks
  • Hot glue gun
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Paper clips
  • Markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Scissors

Send us a photo your design (email it to patriciaj@bixbyschool.org) and we will share it here at Bixby School with our makers in their brand-new makers’ studio! You will have a chance to win a prize!

Robotics, workshops, science, experiences, innovative, boulder, robots

Meet a Maker – Innovative Experiences and Andrew Donaldson

Robotics and Science and Fun… Oh My!

Meet amazing maker, Andy Donaldson and his exciting new STEAM Workshop and Camp company, Innovative Experiences.  Innovative Experiences provides STEAM Workshops that include robotics, science, engineering, arts, making and more!

Innovative Experience’s workshops for tween, teens, and adults with a variety of activities and costs to meet a variety of needs.  They offer everything from a couple hours to play with different materials and make something, up to a 4-day Robotics camp or the weekly Innovators Club. What makes IE different from other Maker spaces or STEAM workshops is that they provide unique, thought-provoking activities that allow you to explore all the possible solutions while also expanding your understanding of how things can work together.

What workshops are offered?

Atlanta, GA, USA - March 28, 2015: Kids attempt to drop bottle caps into a cup using a prosthetic arm and hooks, at a Georgia Tech prosthetics exhibit at the Atlanta Science Fair in Centennial Park in Atlanta.

Starting in September, these are the workshops that will be offered:

  • Roborobo Workshop: Wednesdays Sept 21 – October 26. 6 – 8 pm. We will use the Roborobo kits to build and program many different robots throughout the week.  Participants end with an activity that will requires them to use creativity to design, build and program a robot that isn’t part of the guided activities.
  • Innovators Club: Each week, participants decide to start or continue the previous project. Each project will focus on inventing or improving an existing technology.  Work happens individually and/or in groups to design and build something that hasn’t existed before.  Participants will be an integral part of the decisions made around the activities offered at Innovative Experiences.
  • Hourly workshops: Guided activities using a variety of resources and materials. Participants can take home most of what they make or just play with the materials. New activities will constantly be offered and are focused on Engineering, Arts and Science such as bridge building and other architectural projects, robotics, Little Bits, 3D printing and projection mapping, making ice cream with dry- ice and liquid nitrogen, pumpkin carving, winter activities, design a board game or invent something that solves a problem!

What happens at the RoboRobo Workshop?

In the Roborobo workshop, participants start by building basic robots and learning basic construction and programming on the first day! The second day is for exploring other robots and practice programming them.  On the third day, challenges are added to make an existing robot do something new.  The last day consists of working in teams to design, build and program a unique robot that can accomplish a specific task such as go over obstacles, or destroy the opposing team’s castle with a projectile.  The best part is, you get to keep the robotics kit as part of the workshop and can practice building and playing at home between workshops. Parents are welcome and encouraged to join us to practice using the robots and share a new activity with your child. If you really enjoyed the workshop, don’t worry! The fun doesn’t stop there. With six levels of Roborobo kits to choose from, you can keep coming back for more fun activities and expand your robotics collection.

galaxy, explore, STEM, girls

What makes Innovative Experiences different from a Maker space?

The goal of Innovative Experiences, says Donaldson, “is to provide experiences that inspire creativity, have real-world application and make learning fun.”

While many Maker spaces are great for exploring and learning, many teens are not aware of them or interested because there is no goal. IE will offer fun and inspirational activities to show teens how their knowledge can be applied in the real world. Finally, the costs of belonging to a Maker space and providing materials or attending similar camps/ workshops can be expensive. Innovative Experiences offers workshops in a safe atmosphere, at an affordable cost.

About Andy

Andy Donaldson has spent the better part of a decade working as an educator. His passions include working with students, finding creative ways to learn, and working with his hands. Recently, Andy noticed that the growth of the STEAM movement has targeted younger age groups and provided an opportunity that hasn’t really been fulfilled in secondary education.  That is the inspiration for Innovative Experiences.  To offer fun, affordable activities to inspire creativity and relate to real world knowledge. Andy is also involved with the XQ Bolder Super High School project.

Please visit the website for more information and like us on Facebook.

Upcoming events:

September 21 – October 26, 2016 – Beginner Robotics Workshop – Wednesdays from 6 – 8 pm.  At the Boulder Center for Conscious Community (BC3) 1637 28th Street, Boulder, CO 80301

www.myschoolportals.com

www.facebook.com/innovativeexperiences

gofund.me/innovex

title-5

improv, comedy, family, kids, funny

Laugh Out Loud – Get Your Improv On!

Quick Thinking. Hilarious.  Improv!

What’s this whole improv thing and why is everyone so jazzed about it?

Improvisational comedy has steadily been gaining ground for the past 15 years or so (though its roots date back to the 16th century, the modern form of improv was introduced in the 1940’s and 50’s) it seems that everyone is trying it these days. If you are one of the people who has been curious and standing on the sidelines – let us introduce you to great reasons for you to jump in!

What is improv? 

You could say it’s a mindset, but that wouldn’t be accurate because one of the tenets of improv is to get OUT of your head. Improv is a theatrical art form where the story, characters and action are created collaboratively in the moment. There are no scripts or predetermined plots, just like in life. However, you are guided by a series of rules or guidelines that encourage more harmonious and creative play. So really taking an improv class and participating in improv exercises you are being introduced to a new way of being, of acting on life.  Continued participation strengthens your ability to experience a new, more effective way of engaging in the world.

Who can benefit? 

Often the perception about improv is that it is something only for the funny and the brave or for actors and theater types. Wrong! Anyone who wants to experience more fun, connection and living the principles of Zen-in-action, can benefit from an improv class. No one says you have to perform, but chances are once you do this stuff and get a little more comfortable getting out of your head and trusting your fellow players, you won’t mind an invitation to go up on stage.

What will it do for me? 

Improv massages and resurrects positive aspects of living that may have atrophied over the years. Here are just a few things improv can do for you:

  • Letting Go.  Most of us have been taught and reinforced that the way we get through life successfully is that we figure out how to manipulate and control it. Our motto is, “when the going gets rough- hold on tighter.” Unfortunately, that really doesn’t work. It leads only to anger, reacting with fear and negativity, denying reality and trying to change and mold it to “my way.”  Then where are we? Frustrated, uptight, and unhappy. Improv teaches you to flow with what is. You will get to experience into what is placed in front of you and you will experience how to relax into it and work with it.
  • Right Thinking. Are you an overthinker? Is your mind more a foe than a friend? You’re not alone. We are all taught to think things out thoroughly before acting on anything. After doing that, some of us are frozen in inaction. We’ve lost the ability to trust our instincts and impulses. The other way we misuse our brain power is to defend our positions and get locked into judgement of right and wrong. By doing improv exercises we are encouraged to “jump in” and decide. Choose. Make a choice and know that it will all be ok. There are no mistakes in improv – another powerful principle. Imagine playing with that principle over time. Improv allows you to use your brain more fully – accessing both hemispheres and shutting down the critic.
  • Connect with the Fun. There was a time in your life when that was all you knew- play and fun. It’s called childhood. Kids under the age of 10 are probably the only people who don’t need an improv class. They seek play and fun in most situations- doesn’t matter if they are in class, at church or standing in line at the grocery store. Improv connects us back to our playful nature. Say hello to the fun you that got buried under the shoulds and demands of life. Play again!
  • Trust. How much is fear running you right now? It’s a pretty scarey world out there. Just turn on the news for three minutes and we are reinforced that this world is a very unsafe place. Improv gets you believing in the goodness of life and people. Improv doesn’t work without an atmosphere of support and trust. Improv teaches two very key principles – take care of yourself, and take care of others. Hugely important principles. You learn that you can’t take care of others without taking care of yourself and you really can’t truly be happy and fulfilled with out serving others. Improv by it’s very nature reinforces the trust force field.
  • Saying “Yes” to Life. Sometimes we can feel like that two year old that just says no to everything. That’s another way of saying “my way.” That doesn’t work in improv. It’s a moment-by-moment thing that grows by our attachment to the principle of “Yes And!” Meaning not only do we agree with what has been placed in front of us, we add to it.

All these things work together; as we let go, use our mind correctly to say “yes and” to life then we begin to trust and experience more joy and a liberating and invigorating sense of play.

Now who wouldn’t want more of that?

Interested in learning more about Improv?  Come to our Family Improv Night on March 11th, 2016.

 

Written by:  Pam Farone

Pam Farone is a career coach and improv instructor focused on creating joyful careers and happy work environments.

www.pamfarone.com

Meet a Maker: Craftsy

Craftsy was a great sponsor of Rocky Mountain STEAMFest 2015! We’re are so grateful for their support!

Oh and hey, guess what my favorite maker friends? Craftsy is giving a FREE class to you! Go here craftsyFounders  — >  www.craftsy.com/SteamFest15

What does Craftsy do?

We connect people with the education, supplies and inspiration they need to craft amazing things by hand!

What are some of the things people can learn as Craftsy members?

We have 900+ online classes in more than 15 crafts! On Craftsy, you can learn everything from quilting and sewing, to knitting, cake decorating, cooking, photography, painting, drawing and beyond. Classes like Perfect Pizza at Home, Learn to Sew: Simple Bags or Basics of Digital Photography are all great places to start!

Who is your target customer?

Anyone who enjoys being creative will find something they’re interested in on Craftsy. Though, the majority of Craftsy members are women over the age of 40, and more than 50% of our members spend 10 hours a week on the crafts they love!

Why is Craftsy unique and what will your customers get out of being members?

Craftsy is an online community where more than 9 million members from 180 countries enjoy learning, shopping, finding inspiration and sharing their projects. Our classes are taught by the world’s best instructocraftsyStudentrs, and once a member enrolls in a class, they can watch it anytime, anywhere, forever.

Along with our selection of fun online classes, supplies and project kits, we have more than 125,000 digital patterns from independent designers — who get 100% of the profits. And many designers offer their patterns for free! Craftsy members have also uploaded pictures of more than 200,000 projects.

We think being a Craftsy member helps encourage and empower people to learn what they love, create projects they’re proud of and find a little more joy in every day.

What is your most inspiring customer feedback?

We often hear how Craftsy has changed the lives of our members for the better. We’ve heard from members who have used Craftsy to create things they never thought possible, find joy during difficult times in their lives, and even learn enough to start their own businesses.

Here are what a few Craftsy members had to see about their classes:

“A few weeks after completing the course, I was able to design and make some pretty snazzy and detailed superhero amigurumi for my kids, who were dazzled, as was everyone else who saw them. Since then, I’ve even made things like a two-tiered birthday cake with pretty icing and topping details!” – Craftsy Member Sparklerhooky on Amigurumi: Design Your Own Monster

“[My instructor was] really right there with me all the way. After an initial problem with my dough, she encouraged me to pinpoint what was going on and continue. I have since made fabulous croissants, pains au chocolat and savory croissants.” -Craftsy member chestnut22 on Classic Croissants at Home

How did your company get started and why?

In 2010, John Levisay, Josh Scott, Todd Tobin and Bret Hanna started a company with the aim of making expert-led online education accessible to anyone, regardless of their physical location or confidence with computers. They started with classes on subjects like parenting and personal finance, before branching out to create a class on quilting. Their first quilting class was a huge hit, and the rest is Craftsy history!

What is your best advice to a young entrepreneur who wants to start a company like Craftsy?

Start with an idea you believe in and a purpose you care about! There are detours and bumps along the way for every young entrepreneur, but if you’re passionate about what you’re working on, you’ll find it’s much easier to persevere and turn challenges into chances to create something meaningful.

What else do you want our readers to know?

Craftsy is a one-of-a-kind place to learn and create, both for customers and for employees. We’re always looking for people who want to help craft the future of our company, and there are lots of exciting openings at Craftsy.com/careers.

 

Who is Temple Grandin?

Dr. Grandin will be joining us for Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest on Sunday morning and will be speaking at 2 p.m.

Temple Grandin is a professorRW Temple headshot of animal science at Colorado State University and she has been a pioneer in improving the handling and welfare of farm animals.

She was born in Boston, Massachusetts. Temple’s achievements are remarkable because she was an autistic child. At age two she had no speech and all the signs of severe autism. Fortunately, her mother defied the advice of the doctors and kept her out of an institution. Many hours of speech therapy, and intensive teaching enabled Temple to learn speech. As a teenager, life was hard with constant teasing. Mentoring by her high school science teacher and her aunt on her ranch in Arizona motivated Temple to study and pursue a career as a scientist and livestock equipment designer.

RW Photo Temple with Cow

Temple Grandin with a cow

Dr. Temple Grandin obtained her B.A. at Franklin Pierce College in 1970. In 1974 she was employed as Livestock Editor for the Arizona Farmer Ranchman and also worked for Corral Industries on equipment design. In 1975 she earned her M.S. in Animal Science at Arizona State University for her work on the behavior of cattle in different squeeze chutes. Dr. Grandin was awarded her Ph.D in Animal Science from the University of Illinois in 1989 and is currently a Professor at Colorado State University.

I have done extensive work on the design of handling facilities. Half the cattle in the U.S. and Canada are handled in equipment I have designed for meat plants. Other professional activities include developing animal welfare guidelines for the meat industry and consulting with companies on animal welfare.

Following her Ph.D. research on the effect of environmental enrichment on the behavior of pigs, she has published several hundred industry publications, book chapters and technical papers on animal handling plus 63 refereed journal articles in addition to ten books. She currently is a professor of animal sciences at Colorado State University where she continues her research while teaching courses on livestock handling and facility design. Her book, Animals in Translation was a New York Times best seller and her book Livestock Handling an Transport, now has a fourth edition which was published in 2014. Other popular books authored by Dr. Grandin are Thinking in Pictures, Emergence Labeled Autistic, Animals Make us Human, Improving Animal Welfare: A Practical Approach, The Way I See It, and The Autistic Brain. She also has a popular TED Talk.

Dr. Grandin has received numerous awards including the Meritorious Achievement Award from the Livestock Conservation Institute, named a Distinguished Alumni at Franklin Pierce College and received an honorary doctorate from McGill University, University of Illinois, Texas A&M, Carnegie Mellon University, and Duke University. She has also won prestigious industry awards including the Richard L. Knowlton Award from Meat Marketing and Technology Magazine and the Industry Advancement Award from the American Meat Institute and the Beef Top 40 industry leaders and the Lifetime Achievement Award from The National Cattlemen’s Beef Association. In 2015 she was given the Distinguished Service Award by the American Farm Bureau Federation. Her work has also been recognized by humane groups and she received several awards. HBO has recently premiered a movie about Temple’s early life and career with the livestock industry. The movie received seven Emmy awards, a Golden Globe, and a Peabody Award. In 2011, Temple was inducted into the Cowgirl Hall of Fame.

Dr. Grandin is a past member of the board of directors of the Autism Society of America. She lectures to parents and teachers throughout the U.S. on her experiences with autism. Articles and interviews have appeared in the New York Times, People, Time, National Public Radio, 20/20, The View, and the BBC. She was also honored in Time Magazines 2010 “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” In 2012, Temple was inducted into the Colorado Women’s Hall of Fame. Dr. Grandin now resides in Fort Collins, Colorado.

IMPACT STATEMENT OF DR. GRANDIN’S WORK

Dr. Temple Grandin has had a major impact on the meat and livestock industries worldwide. List below are six specific examples that document this influence.

  • Design of Animal Handling Facilities – Dr. Grandin is one of the world’s leaders in the design of livestock handling facilities. She has designed livestock facilities throughout the United States and in Canada, Europe, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and other countries. In North America, almost half of all cattle processing facilities include a center track restrainer system that she designed for meat plants. Her curved chute systems are used worldwide and her writings on the flight zone and other principles of grazing animal behavior have helped many producers to reduce stress during handling. Temple has also designed an objective scoring system for assessing handling of cattle and pigs at meat plants. This system is being used by many large corporations to improve animal care.
  • Industry Consulting – Dr. Grandin has consulted with many different industry organizations each year for the past ten years. These efforts represent the majority of her time as she has a part-time appointment at Colorado State University but a thriving business as a consultant. The majority of her work is involved with large feedlots and commercial meat packers. She has worked with Cargill, Tyson, JBS Swift, Smithfield, Seaboard, Cactus Feeders, and many other large companies. Her company also does design work for many ranches. She was also involved with several major packing companies. Her consulting has led to work with companies such as Wendy’s International, Burger King, Whole Foods, Chipotle, and McDonald’s Corporation, where she has trained auditors regarding animal care at processing plants. She also has consulted with organic and natural livestock producers on animal care standards The animal handling guidelines that she wrote for the American Meat Institute are being used by many large meat buying customers to objectively audit animal handling and stunning.
  • Research – Dr. Grandin maintains a limited number of graduate students and conducts research that assists in developing systems for animal handling and, in particular, with the reduction of stress and losses at the packing plant. She has published her research in the areas of cattle temperament, environmental enrichment of pigs, livestock behavior during handling, reducing dark cutters and bruises, bull fertility housing dairy cattle and effective stunning methods for cattle and hogs.
  • Media Exposure – Dr. Grandin has provided worldwide media exposure for the livestock industry and, in particular, with issues relating to animal care.       She has appeared on television shows such as 20/20, 48 hours, CNN Larry King Live, 60 Minutes, and has been featured in People Magazine, the New York Times, Forbes, U.S. News and World Report, and Time magazine. Interviews with Dr. Grandin have been broadcast on National Public Radio (NPR) and she has been taped for similar shows in Europe.       She was named one of Time Magazine’s 100 Most Influential people. HBO has made a movie about her life starring Claire Danes.
  • Outreach – Dr. Grandin maintains an appointment with Cooperative Extension at Colorado State where she has been active in making presentations to Colorado ranchers and farmers as well as those interested in the packing industry. She is sought after to discuss issues of quality assurance. Privately, she has developed her own website (www.grandin.com) which has been expanded to include information on livestock handling in addition to information relative to the design of handling systems. A section on bison handling and one in Spanish have been popular. Over 2,000 people visit the website every month and approximately 1,000 download significant amounts of information.       As many as 1,431 files were downloaded daily and over 42,000 have been downloaded in a single month.       The website has been accessed by people from over 50 countries worldwide. She also did a TED talk in 2010 entitled, “The World Needs All Kinds of Minds.”
  • International Activities – It is clear from the wide variety of information accessed via the website, presentations made in international settings and interest in livestock handling systems developed by Dr. Grandin that her work has reached an international audience. She typically travels to make presentations internationally 3-5 times annually.

View Temple’s TED Talk

 

Meet a Maker: Hypatia Studio

Hypatia-smiles-1-of-1-216x300Hypatia Studio is a husband-and-wife team of Matt Roesle and Mahi Palanisami. We are both mechanical engineers by training. Mahi has worked in construction and HVAC design, and is interested in documentary radio and film as well as dance. Matt has researched heat transfer and fluid flow, and is interested in all most things nerdy. We’ve known each other for about eight years, have been married for two, and started our 3D printed jewelry business a little over a year ago.

What do you make?

We use 3D printing to make mathematical jewelry and sculpture. Our designs are based on geometrical concepts such as Platonic solids or braids, or are direct embodiments of equations like strange attractors or fractals, or are derived from simulations of physical things like water flow or sound waves. I usually write our own software to make the 3D models of our designs, have them 3D printed using an online printing service, and then do finishing work and assembly.

How did you get started making and why?3D printed_Hypatia Studio_fancy clean platonic solid earrings

I’ve always been interested in building things. I started learning computer programming, in BASIC, at about age 8; and for as long as I can remember I’ve loved to take things apart to see how they work. (Successfully putting them back together came later!)

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make? 

Recently we had the opportunity to show some of our jewelry in a fashion show at RAW Denver. The hair artist also took some strange attractor sculptures I had made, and wove them into the models’ hair as fantastic hair pieces. I never would have thought to do that!

What is your adv3D printed_Hypatia studio_Julias scaffoldice to creators looking to do what you do or make what you make?

The most important thing to have is hands-on experience, and the best way to get it is to just start trying to make things. At first the things you make might not work more often than they do work, but if you can figure out what went wrong and learn something from it, you haven’t failed. (Even though it might not feel like it at the time.) Theoretical knowledge, like you get through a college education, is helpful too, but you will get more from college if you have practical and life experience first.

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

I really like how the maker movement encourages people to just go out and try things. You don’t need formal education, fancy tools, or a big workshop to make really cool things. I also like how the proliferation of hacker spaces and events like the Rocky Mountain STEAMfest emphasize local co3D printed_Hypatia Studio_Silver swoop ringmmunity-building. The local can get lost in this age of national TV networks and the global Internet. Most of us will never be on national TV or in a magazine like MAKE or get 15 seconds of fame by going viral, but we can play an important and lasting role in our own community by helping, teaching and mentoring, and celebrating each other.

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

Right now we are trying to grow our jewelry business enough to support us as a full-time business. In three to five years, I hope that we will have succeeded in that, and we will be starting to think about and plan our next endeavor – what that will be, I have no idea yet.

What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?

I made the 3D p3D printed_Hypatia Studio_choker bronze steelrinter we have at home, and we use it to make prototypes of some of our designs and some larger sculpture pieces. But it can’t really handle small or intricate designs, and I wish I knew how to make the kind of printer that can print small, detailed parts in wax or a more durable plastic like nylon!

The Lessons of Lock Picking

maxresdefaultAt the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, we hosted a lock picking table.  Adults and children alike sat for hours experimenting with locks and practicing their lock picking skills.  One of the parents at the event questioned our judgement stating that lockpicking is promoting illegal behavior.

That really got us to thinking.  Is she right?  Why would we encourage illegal behavior?

We sat down and examined the sport of lock picking (called locksport – see http://locksport.com/), and the value and virtue of lock picking as an activity.  Here are the reasons that we love lockpicking and why we’ll have it again at The Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest in September.

Criminals don’t take time to pick locks.  Statistics show that crooks don’t pick locks (technically “non-destructive entry”), they break windows, kick doors, or cut padlock hasps (“destructive entry”). The criminals don’t have the patience to learn a skill which will slow them down in the act of stealing things.

Locksmithing is a legitimate profession.  Locksmithing — the art of fixing locks, which often means picking them — is a legitimate, sometimes profitable, legal profession.  One of the goals of our STEAM Fest is to connect young people that are exploring their career options – or adults that are looking for a new career, to possible professions.

A lock is a complex mechanical device. Really, a lock is a puzzle. Our lockpicking exhibit has “open sided” locks that allow participants to see the insides of a lock. Participants have an opportunity to see how the tumblers and locking mechanisms actually work — this familiarizes them with the functionality, and gives them insight into why these devices protect their belongings and property.  It might also help them to identify locks that are not as secure, as well as those that are.

Because locks are complex mechanical devices (puzzles), they require problem solving skills to both open, and close.  A younger child will enjoy closing and opening a lock with a key (which was also provided at the table), while his or her older sibling, (or any one of the dozens of adults that were interested in the locks), will enjoy multiple approaches to solving the puzzle at their fingertips.  Problem solving is a critical skill (in life), and a skill that has been identified by dozens of career success reports as lacking in American adults.

It’s important to learn persistence.  Part of being a proficient problem solver (and of being a productive member of society), is the skill of failing, and learning to persist and to try again. If you visit a lock picking exhibit, you will observe all of the participants are failing many times, until they find a solution that works — and then they’ll do that two or three times (often with an expression of delight on their faces).  This determination and persistence is important to learning outcomes, and lock picking is a terrific way to give kids (and adults), a taste of it, without being so frustrating that they are angry.

Everyone likes the joy of accomplishment. Because lock picking exhibits typically include some relatively easy locks to pick, most people got to enjoy success with the task — giving them a sense of pride, joy, and accomplishment — as great event-planners, we want folks to get as many of these opportunities as possible.

There is a large contingent of people around the world that participate in the sport of lock picking — check out http://locksport.com/ – they have competitions around the globe — these are all sporting and professional men and women who love the challenge of a good puzzle — they are not criminals, nor are they advocating or participating in destroying security, privacy, or personal property.

Activities like lock picking can stimulate great conversations. Any child (or adult), that is concerned about the illegal uses of lock picking, can facilitate a great conversation about “good” activities and “bad” ones — some lock picking is illegal and NOT OK — but that same activity, in a legal and constructive environment, can be a fantastic learning tool. We’re also excited to provide activities like this that get people talking about important and complex issues.

Join us at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest and try your hand at a lock or two yourself!

Meet a Maker: Martha with Maker Boulder

I am a serial entrepreneur with three small start-ups under my belt (well, one of them is not a startup anymore as we’ve been in business for over five years). My first venture is my ongoing education consulting firm. The second is an electronic word game – similar to Scrabble, that you play on your computer or phone, only it has some unique rules, and the third is MakerBoulder, we produce events and activities that connect people to hands-on learning.

What do you make?

In addition to making businesses, I am a “try-anything-once” crafter – I’ve done a lot of scrapbooking, needlework, sewing, and photography, and I dabble in duct tape, gardening and a few other random crafts. I also love to cook.

How did you get started making and why?

I don’t have a choice, really. I can’t sit idle. Even in front of the TV. My mind needs to be creating something, so I keep trying new things. Some stick for a while, and some are abandoned (even before they are finished sometimes).

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?

I wear this silly duct tape apron to a lot of events. It’s been photographed over two dozen times, and once a mother and daughter made me stand there while they talked about their own – before I could leave, they had each designed their own projects, and made a plan to get together to make their own. It actually made me feel really great – to see them creating in action, and to see how excited they were to try to make one on their own. That’s what this is all about – get your hands dirty, try things out, iterate, etc.

What is your advice to people looking to do what you do or make what you make?

Just do it. The first one won’t be perfect. The next one will be better. No matter what, you’ll feel great about making something.

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

The look in someone’s eyes when they discover something new, or when they accomplish something for the first time. “I did it!”

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

I hope it is just like it is today. That I get to try lots of new things, dabble in a few favorites, and with any luck, work with others to help them try things, too.

What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?

Well, I’ve always wished I could make great music – but I can’t sing, and I can’t seem to learn to read music, so that’s a struggle. Aside from music, I’d love to learn to work with metals – silversmith, or even heavy metals – welding. So cool.

Bonus question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Meryl Streep. Sandra Bullock. The CEO of Tech Stars. My Mom.

Meet a Maker: Alicia Gibb with Lunchbox Electronics

meet a maker element

I’m Alicia Gibb, CEO,Alicia.Gibb_ Lunchbox Electronics: lunchboxelectronics.com. I’m a woman-owned company, I taught myself electronics at NYCResistor, a hackerspace in Brooklyn, and now live in Boulder, creating the thing I’ve always wanted: Light-up bricks to build with, because yes, I still play with Legos. I just launched my first Kickstarter for said light up bricks.

What do you make?

Currently I’m making Build Upons for my Kickstarter. Build Upons are awesomely tiny light up bricks that are compatible with LEGO® bricks! Think Lego, but now with more geek.

Light up your robot, house, spaceship, or monster! The Build Upons system has three types of bricks: an LED brick, agibba power brick, and a bridge brick. Light the LED bricks by connecting them to a Power Brick – you can design pathways with as many Bridge Bricks as you need for ultimate flexibility. Build Upons LED bricks are based on 1×1 bricks to create elegant designs. You don’t need to know electronics to use these bricks, you simply build, just like you’ve always done!

This is the latest in STEAM products that will be ready in time for the holidays! Build Upons are a great gift idea for the kids in your life, including that kid that never grew up.

How did you get started making and why?

Like most people, I started before I can remember, and have always continued through my life.

agibb2What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing you’ve ever made?

I used to make a lot of what I call Cake Hacks, lighting up cakes, putting music in cakes, or making them wiggle around with motors.

What is your advice for people looking to do what you do or make what you make?

My advice is that you should always look at things from all angles and especially underneath. The best part about hardware hacking is learning how to break things and put them back together. Don’t be afraid to be a hacker and use things for their unintended purpose!

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?

Definitely into the future! Continuing to make science fiction science fact.

What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?

I don’t yet know how to make dissolvable support material for my Lulzbot, but I’m thinking soap or Plasticine might be an interesting start.

Bonus question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?

Solid State Depot

Summer camps at Friends’ School

Awesome Inventions!

Invent a new toy, solve a problem, build a machine!  Join us for a fun week of inventing, building and laughter.

Join us for a fun week filled with stories, inventing, problem solving and prototyping as we help each child invent something new!  The kids will be inspired to imagine the amazing and encouraged to build their invention from a wealth of prototyping materials.  Who are you building it for? What does it do? Can people buy it?  We will invent toys, games, machines, rockets, robots and more!  Let your imagination explode!

7/20/2015 – 7/23/2015 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Intro to Making!

Come and explore the world of Making!  Play with Robots, Electronics, and more.

Join our adventure and learn new.  We will use tools to take electronics apart, explore new technologies, and build new things.

Come be inspired to fuel your inner Maker.  Learn about local people making cool things from art to robots, electronics and 3D Printers.  Build things, break things, fix things and make new things!

6/29/2015 –  7/2/2015 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

7/6/2015 – 7/9/2015 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Friends’ School
5465 Pennsylvania Avenue
Boulder, CO 80303