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Longmont Startup Week

A Great Place to Learn (and Maybe Find a Co-founder) for your startup

by Linz Craig

 

I made a widget and it’s pretty awesome. Next I have to make 100 more widgets and tell everyone how awesome they are.

 

I look back at that sentence and it almost sounds like I’m going around telling people that they themselves are awesome. In a way I am. At my startup, QuestBotics we believe that the more people who understand the technology in their life the better off the world will be decades and centuries from now. So we believe in people and the good of people. Who knows what that three year old will grow up to be? But with a little help we do know that she can take her first steps towards understanding programming and advanced mathematics today. We think it’s important that everyone tells her how awesome she is on that day.

 

On some days at QuestBotics we are buried up to our armpits in PCBs and electronics. On other days we get to tell that kid and the rest of the boys and girls at the workshop or event that they are officially robot programmers after using our bots. Kids don’t control a lot, but giving them the knowledge that they can control a robot opens up a door to a whole new reality and lifelong perspective. It’s pretty empowering. Their little eyeballs tend to pop out of their heads a little bit, in a good way.

Questbotics and boy

One of these people is a technology education startup founder

 

I wrote that first sentence about our widget in the comment section when I signed up for twenty minutes with an industry mentor at Longmont Startup Week just now. I’m at that weird point where our QuestBots are 99.99% done and now we’re wondering how many late nights we have to spend hunched over a soldering iron. I’m talking to people about proving traction and using fancy terms that I hope make me sound like I know what I’m doing, all while well aware of just how much work it will take to put together those first one hundred units.

 

The only thing that breaks with the stereotypical image I’m conjuring is that neither of us drink coffee. For the last year and a half I’ve work out of my house writing firmware while giving the occasional workshop to make ends meet and working a part time job keeping a testing and prototyping lab tidy. Sometimes they let me break stuff in a scientific manner and wave a soldering iron around like I know what I’m doing. They’re great people and they’ve been giving me advice about QuestBotics which has proved to be really useful. I started my part time job about six months after starting QuestBotics. And nine months previously I attended the first Longmont Startup Week, which was also my first big networking event as a solo entrepreneur. If you poke around there’s bound to be some sort of entrepreneurial near you as well. They are a wealth of information for people who want to start their own businesses.

 

Wide eyed and hopeful (but definitely not having a clue in the world what I was going to do) I tried to soak up as much information as I could. After returning from teaching in Africa for four months I had returned to Longmont and built three different prototypes, one of which I hoped to take to market. The people at the Startup Week were incredibly helpful. I signed up for mentor sessions then just as I do now. I explained to everyone where I was trying to go, listened to others explain their own visions and tried to remember as much of the advice as I could.

 

I met a multitude of people and thankfully continue to stay in touch with many of them. I distinctly remember an older gentleman ask me what in the world had happened to my cell phone on the roof of a Longmont brewhouse. (I had broken it in Uganda.) I still run into him occasionally at things like the local Smart City Initiative meetup. Some of the people I met at the first Longmont Startup Week have done more than stay in touch. There was one Peruvian gentleman I met that week who became my partner at QuestBotics. The other guy who doesn’t drink coffee on these late nights and early mornings.

questbotics at STEAM fest

Two years after meeting at Longmont Startup Week these guys are beta testing their first product

 

The QuestBots aren’t one of the three products that I talked about at that first Longmont Startup Week, but the point is that I learned a lot during that week. I’ve tried my hardest to put it all to use but I am well aware that I need a lot more guidance as I charge headlong into marketing and sales for my widget. I hope to see you at some of this year’s entrepreneurial education offerings if you live in Colorado. (If you live some where else here are some events for you to check out.) I’m looking forward to asking different questions, meeting new people, catching up with those I know and telling everyone how awesome they are.

 

Longmont Startup week is happening July 24-28 2017 in Longmont CO. Check out the schedule here.

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Youth Science Education That Comes to You

Have you heard?

There is an exciting new service in the Denver area dedicated to providing hands-on and fun science education for children from preschool to fifth grade.  Science Made Fun brings age appropriate, fun science experiments directly to your school, camp or party – no bus, no fuss!

Try an experiment now

This is the kind of experiment we would do in the field that you can do right in your kitchen, using things that you already have.  Show your kids on a micro level how dish soap works to clean up those dinner dishes.

Exploding Colors Experiment

  • milk experiment, youth science education

    Exploding Colors experiment is FUN science education.

    Items needed: One half cup of milk, a shallow bowl, a cotton swab, dish soap and multiple colors of liquid food coloring (do not use gel, it sinks).

  • Directions: Place the bowl on a stable surface, pour the milk in the bowl and put a drop or two of each color in different areas of the milk.  The food color should remain on the surface of the milk, but if it doesn’t it is either too heavy or the milk’s fat content is too low.  Put a drop of dish soap on the cotton swab and touch the soaped end to any of the colors to see the effect.  Do this with each color to see the lovely “exploding colors”.
  • How to explain it: Milk has fat in it, invisibly bonded together, allowing the food coloring to float on top of the fat.  Think of it like the little bits of fat all holding hands with each other, supporting the color drops. Dish soaps are great on greasy or oily dishes because it breaks the bonds in fats allowing them to separate. When you add the dish soap to the milk, the fat separates and moves, allowing  your colors to expand.

 

Through exciting hands-on experiments Science Made Fun programs are thoughtfully designed to stimulate young minds, activate students’ innate curiosity and nurture each child’s budding imagination.  Alongside our team of professionals, students are guided through the learning process, becoming REAL scientists performing REAL experiments!

Find more experiments to try at home or view our science education programs at ScienceMadeFunKIDS.

water, kids activities

Teach Your Children to Conserve Water with Fun Science Activities

Connect kids with Water Conservation

When you get hot and thirsty playing outside, a cold glass water can really cool you down. But your child may not know that kids in other parts of the world don’t always have clean drinking water. This summer, teach your child the importance of conserving precious resources. You can start by learning more about fresh water scarcity. With 97 percent of the world’s supply being salt water, conservation is a great way to make a global impact.

One route to freshwater sustainability is desalination, or removing the salt from salt water. There are more than 16,000 desalination plants(1) across the globe, and that number is growing. To begin learning how desalination occurs, try Connections Academy’s educational activity with your child– and create freshwater from salt water using a few household items!

water, conservation, child, activities, science

Water is essential to life – and is increasingly scarce.

Why is Fresh Water Important?

Fresh water is an essential part of life. Water helps nutrients and oxygen in the bloodstream move around the body. Humans are generally made up of about 50 to 65 percent water.

Fresh water is a key to good health. When your body doesn’t have enough water, it is dehydrated. Dehydration can keep you from doing your best at sports, school, and whatever else the day may throw your way.

Fresh water keeps crops growing. About 70 percent of the available freshwater on earth is used to feed crops, which, in turn, feed us.

How to Conserve Water

Have your child help you check for leaks around the house.

Let the lawn grow a little longer than you normally would. This will promote retention of freshwater (from rain or sprinklers) in the soil.

Help your child plant native plants. Plant species that are native to your area which should thrive with the amount of rainfall your garden will receive and need little additional watering.

plant, garden, water, conservation, kids

Use plants that thrive naturally in your environment and don’t require a lot of additional water.

Encourage your child to cut his or her shower time by two minutes each day. Two minutes every day is 730 minutes per year. That’s a little change that can make a big difference!

Visit the Connections Academy blog to find more fun learning activities.

Colorado Connections Academy is a network of tuition-free online public schools for students in grades K-12.

 

1 David Talbot, “Desalination out of Desperation,” MIT Technology Review (December 2014), accessed March 25, 2015, http://www.technologyreview.com/featuredstory/533446/desalination-out- of-desperation/.

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