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We Built This (Cardboard) City…

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Cardboard City Bridge is a success!

05/28/2015 – Eric Gundersen

Balance, patience, and plenty of coffee are indispensable when it comes to constructing a 16’ x 16’ city out of cardboard in about 16 hours.  That is the mission before us at the second annual Denver Mini Maker Faire (coming up on June 13 and 14).  Eight of us gathered on a cold and rainy day in May for our first preparation/prototyping session and learned much during those four swift hours.

Lesson #1: Safety, safety, safety

Two finger tips were lost in the first 30 minutes – fortunately they only belonged to a glove while the hand inside was left unscathed.  Cardboard is dense and even with sharp knives it requires a fair amount of strength to cut.  Always keep your blade sharp.  If cutting becomes a challenge dispose of the blade properly and replace it with a fresh one.  Retract your blade or store safely between cutting sessions.  I had a friend who required multiple stitches after stepping on an X-Acto blade stored in a coffee mug, blade up, on the ground.

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At work on the prototype Cardboard City

We used hot glue to affix cardboard to cardboard which takes time to set.  The glue can get up to 380⁰ F.  Instead of risking burns use binder clips to hold your pieces as they cool.  Also, remember to unplug your glue gun immediately after use.

Lesson #2: Cutting

A straight edge or L-square is beneficial for making long cuts.  Make two passes on the cut so you don’t have to use as much pressure.  To make a clean corner for a fold, score the interior of your piece by making a shallow, straight cut.

Lesson #3: Creature Comforts

Working on your hands and knees can get uncomfortable.  Consider using knee pads or gardening kneeling pads.  Coffee also hits the spot.

Lesson #4: Balance
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Our prototype in progress!

Our team is fairly diverse with a variety of skillsets.  Some of us are more technical and some more artistic and everyone has strengths & weaknesses.  We organically broke up into three smaller groups to tackle infrastructure (base plates), landmark pieces (a skyscraper and suspension bridge), and “greebling”/”gingerbread” details in parallel.

It… was… sloooow.  After four hours (nearly 25% of our allotted time) we had:

  • 8 houses
  • 1 swing set w/ slide
  • 5 trees
  • 1 classy above ground swimming pool
  • 2 base plate platforms
  • 1 skyscraper w/ water tower
  • 1 bridge that took 10 minutes to make
  • ½ a bridge that took 2 hours to make

We learned that a bargain must be struck between quality and speed.  Work too fast and it looks like junk, while painstakingly obsessing over getting all the details right takes way too long.

As we made ready to leave and looked across all the modest structures we realized that it’s the city that we’re making; not the house or tree or skyscraper.  The flaws are absorbed by the scope, variety and whimsy of the landscape.  These pieces make up the whole just as your companions’ participation make up the experience.

We’re going to create an assembly line process to accelerate building the building of 144 houses, our goal.  We’re going to separate into groups for mass production (speed) and unique landmark pieces (quality).  Perhaps you’ll visit us at the Denver Mini Maker Faire on June 13th & 14th, or better yet roll up your sleeves and give us a hand.

If one day you find yourself building a city out of cardboard remember to be creative, be patient, encourage your partners and have fun!

Editor’s Note: See the Cardboard City, and many other curiosities (you can even build your own cardboard creation), at the Denver Mini Maker Faire on Saturday June 13 and Sunday June 14 at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.  Join MakerBoulder and Level(3) in some maker magic!

Calling All Boulder Mini Maker Faire Volunteers!

Thank you for your interest in volunteering to support the first-ever Boulder Mini Maker Faire! This is going to be a fantastic event and your help is greatly appreciated (and needed!) to make it even better. It’s also a heck of a lot of fun to get involved — so we can’t wait to see you there!

In general we will need some help in the run up to the show with several aspects of the event. Then the biggest help will be needed during the show. And don’t forget: you get a super cool T-Shirt, food and drinks during your shift, and one General Admission ticket for each 4-hour shift. We can’t wait to get together and get our MAKE on!

So straight to the details. We’ll need help with the following:

Event set-up all-day Friday and Saturday mornings:

FRIDAY
Materials delivery
Volunteer staff support (including food and drinks)
Maker way-finding during check-in/move-in

SATURDAY
Box office support including admissions, wristbands and waiver release signing
Event ambassadors to help attendees find their way
Security inside and outside the event (including overnight shifts)
Maker support throughout the event with facilities and operations
Announcers for speaker and demonstrations stages

SUNDAY
Strike-down and move out
Clean-up (which always seems to get the least volunteer sign up but is VERY important!)
And more cool opportunities to actually MAKE the experience by helping Makers in their booths!!

The shift schedule will be in 4-hour intervals (up to 8-hours max per day) and will range over a period from 7am-10pm depending on the day. We will have some lead-up events that you may want to participate in, including driving to pick up food donations and other supplies.

Please provide some basic information to help us start to place you around the event. Just email the following information to Jeff@MakerBoulder.com. If you need more info, the email’s a great way to go, or you can feel free to call Jeff Scott, our supreme deity of Operations and Volunteer Coordination, at 303.859.2177.

Full name:
City of Residence:
Age:
Able to lift 40lbs or more:
Best cell or text number:
Spoken Languages:
Other skills that might help:

Please call/email/text me with any other questions, and we look forward to working with you to make this first Mini Maker Faire in Boulder spectacular!

How a Maker Faire Collaboration Fixed a 20-Foot Tesla Coil

Have you ever wondered exactly what the heck a Maker Faire is all about? And why you would want to be involved as a VOLUNTEER, a MAKER or an ATTENDEE at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31-Feb 1? Let Jeff Scott answer all your burning questions. Jeff is the estimable guru of all things facilities and volunteers for Maker Boulder. Mssr. Scott did the same for last year’s Denver Mini Maker Faire and tells the following story of collaboration that could only have come from a room full of makers, hackers and tinkerers. You want to know what a Maker Faire is all about? Keep reading…

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Call For Boulder Mini Maker Faire Volunteers!

What’s the only thing better than attending the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31-Feb1, 2015 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds? I mean, other than making at the faire? Or, let’s be honest here, maybe, like, sitting in a giant vat of Phish Food ice cream and watching YouTube news bloopers while the (former) cast of Mythbusters massages your feet?

That’s right, it’s VOLUNTEERING at the faire! Besides, this kitten wants you to volunteer. Don’t crush this kitten’s hopes and dreams. Volunteer at the faire!

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Computer Science Education Week Kickoff, Dec 8!

Design an app, program a robot, learn computer thinking outside the box and more at Computer Science Education Week in Boulder, CO, Monday, December 8 – Saturday the 13th! Best yet, swing by Boulder co-working and tech connection juggernaut Galvanize on Monday for a kickoff with Maker Boulder, co-sponsored by local startup 911 Labs Inc (which does development and operations for early startups). We’ll be running a radical computer scavenger hunt, all ages welcome.

“Computers are a part of everything these days. Not only in obvious places like laptops and phones, but in thermostats, traffic lights, and washing machines,” says Daniel Zacek, CEO of 911 Labs says. “Our display will show examples of how computer science is involved in everything from farming to flying, and include a scavenger hunt for computer science in and around Galvanize.”

You’re reading this on a computer. You depend on the computers in your car to transport you to places where you can buy food sources like kale and Slurpees. Computers are shaping the very folds of your grey matter in ways we’re just now starting to understand. Don’t you think it’d be kinda good to know just a little bit about how these computers work? Here’s your chance to get edumacated without the terribly painful process of actually studying.

“We are working together to inspire the next generation of coders, makers, and innovators to think about how computing is part of their lives today, and their future through a groundbreaking and town-wide week of programs,” says Galvanize.

Come on down to Computer Science Education Week events next week and have a good time! Full list of events at www.csed.co. (And while you’re at it, if you want to stay up to date with Maker-ish events and news in Boulder, please consider following us on Facebook!)

Best. Animal Shadow Puppets. Ever.

Oh we think we’re so slick, sitting here in the present and looking back at the follies of the past. But the pace of innovation in which newness steamrolls oldness means that sometimes we lose things we really should have kept. Like astronaut ice cream. We really don’t eat nearly as much astronaut ice cream as we should. And what ever happened to the band INXS? Another great historical cultural achievement that seems lost or at least marginalized in the modern era is the art of hand shadow puppets. Today is the day we change this. Join Maker Boulder in bringing back the art of the shadow puppet. These should get you started:

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Calling All Makers!

THE FAIRE IS THIS WEEKEND!

If you are interested in being an exhibitor at the Faire, we may be able to accommodate your activity/exhibit.  To learn more, email Anne Fellini at Anne@MakerBoulder.com.

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About a year ago, we got in touch with the folks at Make Magazine to discuss hosting a little Maker event, maybe in an elementary school gym. We imagined a cardboard building contest, an egg drop, maybe a couple presentations by local technology toy companies. If we lived in Boise or Burlington or Bozeman that’s what it would have been. But that day on the phone, Make Magazine heard the word “Boulder” and lit up like an Arduino board when you click the upload button. They said something like, “Dude, you totally have to host a Faire!” (Except maybe with a little less Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.)

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Cardboard to the Left, Monsters to the Right…

C’mon, we know you want to sing it: Here I am, stuck in the middle with you-oo! And we’re right there along with you during these excruciating weekdays between excellent Maker events. We had a hootenanny at last weekend’s Cardboard Challenge. And we’re planning a hootenanny-squared for this Saturday’s Monster to Love building event. Consider registering early: we finally had to cap registration for the cardboard challenge and we expect Monsters to be equally popular.

You may have heard of Monster to Love, the Fort Collins company run by Ray Tollison and his sons, Sam and Ben, donates a hand-sewn monster to charity for every monster purchased. At Friday’s homegrown sew-fest here in Boulder, CO you and yours will have the opportunity to make two monsters: one to keep and one to give away. For $30 it’s not only a darn good deal for an opportunity to learn about the design-and-sew process from a family that lives it, but an opportunity to give a little monstrous joy to a child who could use it; Monsters to Love has given away more than 1,500 monsters to charities like Realities for Children in Larimer County and directly to hospitals around Colorado and abroad (because we all know that anywhere outside Colorado is “abroad”).

When you think about it, the idea flow is pretty logical for Sam and Ben, fraternal twins: you make two monsters, neither exactly the same, and then when you’re holding one monster you know that somewhere out there in the world is its twin.

“It makes you feel less alone,” says Ray, who by day is website manager for the aid organization World Relief.

Ben is the lead designer. Sam and Ray do the sewing. But they’re limited in their ability to reach people by the constraints of time and their 10 digits (well, 30 digits if you add them all together). Ray and the boys stopped by the Maker Boulder booth at the NoCo Mini Maker Faire and Ray said that he’s looking into the possibility of expanding past their basic Singer sewing machines. But until that happens, they need your help. And ours too: we’ll be there sewing and we hope you will be too!

Here’s the 411: Saturday, October 18, 3:00-5:00pm at Mackintosh Academy in Boulder. It’s $30 and preregistration is recommended. Parents should consider staying to help their kids under age 12 and the event isn’t necessarily recommended for mini-Makers under age 5 (you know: scissors, needles and all that).
Eventbrite - Monster to Love -- Create a Monster!

For inspiration, please see the Monster to Love Pinterest page, or the too-cute, ugly images below:

 

Why the D-School’s Alice Shi Kembel Lets Her Children Play With Trash (Part 1)

Anyone visiting our home will stumble upon numerous unique creations designed by our three boys: bats with five-foot wingspans made of paper and masking tape, daggers whittled from sticks, bug zoos designed with wine corks and popsicle sticks, night vision goggles consisting of toilet paper tubes and duct tape, snake traps constructed from cardboard and string, and a two-pronged lice comb that my oldest son made for his kindergarten teacher out of wooden skewers and Scotch tape.

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Join us This Weekend at the NoCo Mini Maker Faire!

Did you know that the expression “chomping at the bit” is more correctly “champing at the bit”? If either describes your anticipation of the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, which seems impossibly far away at Jan 30-Feb 1, then please consider whetting your appetite (not “wetting” your appetite) this weekend at the NoCo Mini Maker Faire in Loveland!

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