Meet a Maker: Micah with BOAT

Micah! Micah! Micah! Let’s all do a cheer for Micah with the “BOAT” (Bus for Outdoor Access & Teaching). Micah believes that the outdoors is a vehicle for helping people figure out how to make a better world together… and we agree. Come meet Micah and take a walk through the BOAT at STEAMFest – show what you know about maps, build a lego campsite based on Leave No Trace principles, play with Mr. Bones, take a family survival challenge, practice pooping in the woods (no real poop, promise), and get any and all questions about the G-R-E-A-T outdoors answered.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I run BOAT! It’s not actually a BOAT, it’s the “Bus for Outdoor Access & Teaching.” We’ve converted a big, red, full-size school bus into a fully functional wilderness program. We drive across Colorado running expeditions for kids and adults, providing outdoor education where people actually live, and helping organizations get to hard-to-reach outdoor places.

How did you get started? Who or what influenced you?

I wish there was a “lightbulb moment,” but really it was just a lot of work. My team started asking educators what made it hard to get outside, we analyzed budgets, we did a lot of just-good-enough paper napkin math, and a fair amount of logistical analysis (i.e. looking where things went and where to pull of a trip). We learned a few things – transportation is a huge barrier, people want access to outdoor spaces where they actually live (cities!), and a bus has enough cubic feet of storage to carry enough camping equipment for everyone inside – with some modifications.

What was one bit of information you wished you know before you started?

The structural and electrical architecture of a bus, for starters! Welding, metalwork, the impacts of vibrations on nuts and bolts – that kind of stuff. We knew we could run an outdoor program, and we knew we could drive a bus, but putting them together has had some challenges!

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

The idea behind the bus is that it’s a more affordable, more accessible way for organizations to get outside. A lot of outdoor programs run on a traditional model where families or individuals have to get to their base of operations, have the gear, and so on. We’ve tactically removed a lot of barriers – both logistical and economic – and that means our programs are a fraction of the cost of a traditional outdoor program. So what does the future look like? Hopefully more busses, more people getting outside, and making it a lot easier along the way. Last year we got 400 people out on trips and reached over 7,000 through education programs – we’d like to see those numbers get a lot bigger.

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

My kingdom for another bus! I don’t think we’ll ever make the perfect one, but we learned a lot the first time around – I don’t know how to make every piece of it, but I’ve got a lot of ideas (as soon as I get this welding thing down).

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

I’m going to go a bit off message here, but I think it’s the element of creativity and critical thinking – I love the outdoors, but getting people outside at BOAT isn’t the real end goal. Like BOAT itself, the outdoors is a vehicle for helping people figure out how to make a better world together. You learn a lot about what it means to take care of each other on a camping trip – the creativity, critical thinking, problem solving, and care for others that comes from our programs is the real goal, and something much needed in society both today and always.

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

All the people! Sure, we’re showing off the bus and teaching but really the best part for us is getting to meet all the folks coming by, seeing their ideas, sharing tips, tricks, and hikes, and letting the younger ones sit in the driver’s seat. It’s such a great community in attendance!

What will you be demo’ing hacking, playing with at your STEAM Fest booth?

We’re revamping our event set up, so you’ll have to see – you can count on a chance to show what you know about maps, build a lego campsite based on Leave No Trace principles, play with Mr. Bone’s, take a family survival challenge, practice pooping in the woods (no real poop, promise), and get any and all questions about the outdoors answered (or at least we’ll try!). We’ll also be showing you the insides of some popular outdoor clothing, so you can learn how they work!

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

Honestly, people tend to think that what we do is pretty crazy. I’ve studied wolves and been chased by a bear and struck by lightning. But what I remind people is all those “crazy” things actually means we made a big mistake – the goal of getting outside is to do so safely enough you can come back and do it again later, so it’s the times we have fun but things don’t get toooo crazy that are the best.

What’s your advice to young peeps interested in learning more about STEAM?

When you’re young, the way consequences work out can be a pretty sweet deal. The consequences of taking time to learn, grow, try something new, or break a rule no one knew they needed to have are huge – I still regularly rely on skills, science, and knowledge I picked up before I graduated high school, every day. At the same time, the consequences of bad choices and mistakes are – relatively speaking – pretty small. You can take big risks, and the odds are in your favor. The older you get, the more that seems to invert, so take advantage! Plus remember that while older folks may have more experience than you, they aren’t necessarily smarter. It’s always worth listening to older folks in your life – but you can go your own way and it still might end up better.

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> BUY TICKETS

Hunting for spring? When you can’t find it, try a scavenger hunt!

It’s about this time of year when spring fever starts to set in, at least it does for many of us who are looking forward to longer days and more hours outside. While there are a number of outdoor sports that can be enjoyed throughout the winter, let’s face it, many of them require a lot of work to get up the mountain, to get on the gear, and to get moving.

Here is a simple, fun outdoor scavenger hunt for you and your kids that just requires a coat and gloves, this list, a pen, (Optional) a phone with a camera would be fun for recording artifacts and that allows them to look up tree types, scat and other important information, a bag for trash, and a keen sense of observation.  Send your kiddos out bundled up like the Pillsbury Dough Boy and tell them not to come home until they have finished hunting and finding the items on the list, and of course, “last one done is a rotten egg.” 

Winter Scavenger Hunt

When the kiddos get home, encourage them to draw pictures of each of the items they found. Or, encourage them to do a plasticine/modeling clay model of one of the items they found or saw, e.g. a bird, a pinecone, a tree. You could give bonus points for unique items like an old toy or marble. To make things more competitive, then you could set a time limit. 

If it is a blustery day outside, an indoor art scavenger hunt may have to suffice. Have them collect the items in a Ziploc baggie or in some Tupperware.

Using the items that they found, encourage them to create a multimedia masterpiece.  The rule is they have to use each item in the scavenger hunt to create a unified piece of art which includes the principles of design.  Give bonus points or a prize for artists who are able to describe their design choices and the reasoning behind their choices!

Spring will be here soon enough (hopefully), but until then, enjoy each other and the togetherness that the less than ideal weather provides.

Meet a Maker: Bre with RabbitHole

Duudddeeesssss… we’re so lucky to have a pal like Bre at Rabbit Hole Recreation Services – Escape Room. Not only are they voted the #1 Thing to Do in Louisville (Colorado), they’re also the STEAMFest team’s favorite puzzle adventure. Oh, and did I mention that all of our STEAMFest volunteers get a $40 gift card to Rabbit Hole…  WHAT! Stop by their booth this year and play their interactive, Frost Base Z theme puzzle box.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I am the game master overlord, business wizard, and co-founder of Rabbit Hole Recreation Services escape rooms. I handle everything from ordering office snacks to managing our large scale corporate events. However, my favorite part of my job is being on the development team for new projects (whether full blown escape rooms or smaller portable games) – I love to get my hands dirty and actually build things!

In my free time I can be found at concerts, cooking or playing board games with friends, rock climbing, volunteering with My Nature Lab (a local non-profit education center), scuba diving, sewing, and taking my dog on outdoor adventures!

How did you get started? Who or what influenced you?

Kurt (founder and business owner) had played a couple dozen mediocre escape games in Arizona and California. After he moved to Colorado, he finally played a really great game called The Cabin. It was at that point he realized there was a huge opportunity for an escape room business that built immersive and story-driven games. He was able to partner with Cody Borst of Escape Realm, and has built three amazing adventures so far.

What was one bit of information you wished you know before you started?

Planning is hard work, but arguably the most important step in the development process. There are many cases where we could have saved huge chunks of time installing, uninstalling, updating, redesigning, and reinstalling parts if we had just had a better plan going in.

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

Our vision is to develop better, more engaging escape games and expand our business to new spaces. We also plan to broaden the style of games we offer – everything from take home challenges to portable games for events and even outdoor walking puzzle hunts!

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

I wish I knew how to program Arduinos! Most of our props run on them and I would love to be able to help with that end of game development.

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

It’s exciting to see kids thinking, making, and doing. We can’t wait to see what kind of amazing projects and inventions come from a generation of kids raised on STEAM!

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

My favorite part of STEAMFest is getting to take a break from our booth and touring around to see what all of the other exhibits have to offer. (Also… the espresso truck!)

What will you be demo’ing hacking, playing with at your STEAM Fest booth?

This year we will be bringing a mini game with us! Stop by our booth and play our interactive, space themed puzzle box. Race against the clock and see if you can be the hero! Last year we brought lockpicking practice kits and we plan to have those again as well.

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

We bring fantasies to life! Most people have at some point or another wanted to Indiana Jones style explore a tomb or save the world from a virus outbreak and we give them the opportunity to do just that!

What’s your advice to young peeps interested in learning more about STEAM?

Find a project that is fun! Staying motivated and having the drive to learn more is a lot easier when you enjoy the project.

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> BUY TICKETS

Meet a Maker: Karen with [i am a maker]

Meet our best pal Karen, the founder of [i am a maker]! Karen is the best person ever and we’re so glad that she hangs out with us at Rocky Mountain STEAMFest every year. [i am a maker] was formed to engage, educate and inspire the current and future generations of makers through novel events and hands-on activities that promote play, experimentation, creative expression, team work and skills-based learning. They’re hosting HEBO Con at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020.

What do you do with your awesome self?

At my core, I am a manager of things, machinery, materials, ideas, projects and people.  My “day job” is designing and managing installation of high-speed food and beverage packaging lines as an engineering project manager, soup to nuts. 

Every other minute of my day when I’m not doing that is spent finding ways to inspire youth and adults into creative and technical endeavors as a new hobby, career or a lifetime passion.  This includes putting tools in the hands of youth and empowering them to take ownership of their own creative process. I formed the nonprofit [I am a maker] and, with a team of equally passionate folks, continue to host activities and facilitate informal learning for both youth and adults through a series of specialty events.

How did you get started? Who or what influenced you?

I believe it started for me with a Barbie doll. Some youth, as I have learned, set their dolls on fire, or cut/dye/style their hair, for example.  I took a more traditional route and, with my Mother’s instruction, sewed clothes for my dolls. When I realized I could make any style, color, size, or shape of clothing that I wanted, this opened a portal to the maker mindset at 8 years old. 

Fast forward a few decades and happily a mechanical engineer and hobbyist sewist, I acknowledged the lack of voices for women in engineering as a modern maker movement was emerging.  Makers in traditional arts, trades and artisan crafts were also under represented in media. I simply did not feel a part of this growing maker movement, so I just declared it: “I am a maker, too.”

[I am a maker] was born to reach youth and adults who don’t yet know they are makers, empower them and share with them the tools and resources for creation.

What was one bit of information you wished you know before you started?

Some information that would have been helpful to know is being more prepared for the volume of regulations, paperwork, filings, approvals, time and dollars that are needed to form a 501c3 and become a legal entity to serve the community.  To be frank, the IRS doesn’t care about your nonprofit, even when they admit they made an error. 

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

We are hosting Hebocon Denver at STEAM Fest and this event is part of our larger vision to reach makers and young makers “where they are at”.  It is one of several programs of our nonprofit meant to encourage people to get creative regardless of life stage or their technical or creative ability. Everyone is a maker and we want to give adults and youth the tools to succeed in their creative endeavors across the variety of circumstances that they may find themselves in.  

We plan to expand the program and offer Hebocon Denver to the community multiple times a year combined with several additional related events that will continue to be both educational and entertaining.    

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

I wish there was a way to make time. I am looking for the time machine makers as I have several lifetimes of projects and missions to execute, and I’m not the only one. Hit us up!

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

My favorite part of the movement is our ability to create without requiring anyone’s permission.  As tools and materials become more readily accessible, so does this increase our ability to invent and create.  Why we create is different for each person and it is rare another maker will question what you are doing. Regardless of your actual reason for making something, another maker will know it in their heart, too. It’s because we can.        

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

I am excited for the entire weekend from loading in the first crate to Sunday night sweeping up the pom-poms. We are event producers ourselves, and we really love partnering with the STEAM Fest production team. We love working with a great team and making amazing events together with fun people!

[i am a maker] HEBO Con at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2019

What will you be demo’ing hacking, playing with at your STEAM Fest booth?

We will be playing with broken toys, bits and bobbles that are actually robot parts in disguise. We are building robots out of junk, followed by sumo matches in the ring. And you can win prizes! 

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

 “Will you marry me?”

What’s your advice to young peeps interested in learning more about STEAM?

The materials needed to start creating are right in front of you in everyday items such as old toothpaste tubes, paper plates, cups, boxes, tins, plastic bags, rubber bands, bottles, cardboard, foil, paper and pencil. Ask yourself what can you make with items within a 5/10/20ft radius of where you are sitting. GO!

Looking forward to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020! Get your tickets >> BUY TICKETS