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

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

Meet: Watershed School

A recent headline in Wired magazine put it simply: “Schools are preparing students for a world that doesn’t exist.” After all, how many times have you found a job memorizing historical dates or filling out worksheets? That kind of education is no longer relevant.

At Watershed School, our mission is to build the character and the ability of students to take on the world’s greatest challenges. For us, that means teaching them to create original solutions to real-world problems – 3d printer studentsand develop the ability to adapt, collaborate, and create.

At Watershed, this looks very different than students sitting in rows. It means

  • Starting a small business in an economics class
  • Using Arduino circuits to solve a problem in engineering
  • Learning Spanish by navigating the streets of small town Guatemala
  • Using design thinking to reduce the amount of waste headed to landfill

As a result, kids love coming to school. Your children are natural born inventors, entrepreneurs, and creative problem solvers. Giving kids the tools to express it makes them happier and more successful.

We support STEAMFest because STEAMFest is about this different way of learning. In Boulder, we are lucky to be part of a community of technological problem-solvers, educational innovators, and open-minded parents looking for something different.

11922958_1016768991675554_256434779100010393_o(1)And after STEAMFest, check us out at www.realworldlearning.is, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter at @watershed_co. You could even call us on an old-fashioned phone. We’d love to show you a different kind of school.

Meet a Maker: Arieann with Kitables

Arieann has a long standing passion for taking ideas and running with them. Graduating with a Bachelor’s in Cell Science and a minor and Chemistry, she spent the next five years wandering the world of academic research, before starting a company of her own. She is now Founder/CEO of Kitables and Executive Director of Spark Boulder. A fan of perpetual learning and exploration, as well as an entrepreneur by nature, she loves building whether that’s an actual project, a company, or helping strengthen the amazing entrepreneurial community of Boulder.

What do you make?
I make companies and communities, and I used to get to do cool chemistry side projects but not for a while… (running 2 companies doesn’t leave a lot of r IMG_8056oom for tinkering.)

How did you get started making and why?
Ever since I can remember, I’ve always been a builder. Although I was never a ”let’s take the remote apart” kinda kid. I was more “ok I have 2 pieces of plywood, an ice cube, and a piece of broccoli” I’m just gonna build something kind of kid. I cleared a 3rd grade class because I refused to read the directions on my chemistry kit and just threw some stuff together that started smoking and the teacher freaked out.

The “why” actually has a lot to do with my upbringing. My father was a fixer and a contractor professionally and my mother was very into crafts so I grew up thinking that’s just how things were done. Also I was a massively independent person from a young age and you learn how to get “it” done when you are like that.

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?
Showing off Kitables new offerings, we’ve got a really cool kit coming out!

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

Our Kits:
Including the repeat appearance Rubiks cube solving robot kit the RubiSolver. Our new Bismuth Crystal kit and our newest offering the Mini Origami Quad Copter! It’s the cutest coolest thing you have ever seen!

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) Rubisolver-wood-1-e1437500319344thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?

Someone wanted me to make them a life size sword out of aerogel, they were being dead serious. I started specking out what it would take but it was crazy expensive to build the machine. But I would have built it, given the money.

What is your advice to creators looking to do what you do or make what you make?
Never stop moving or learning, complacency is the death of everything. Also Boulder’s entrepreneurial community is unique and we have a “Give First” mentality. This town is crazy welcoming as long as you contribute. Funny story – Mary Anne the co-founder of Maker Boulder was the first person to get me started on my networking journey. We had coffee one morning during my first Kickstarter campaign she told me about the give first thing and I was like how do I give back I know nothing right now, she simply replied “your time.” So my advice would be to go out there and help and it comes back 10 fold, even if you think you have nothing but your time to give!

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?
The people, I know that sounds really corny but it’s true. The fact that a community like this exists is amazing to me. Makers are everywhere from your backyard auto-enthusiast to leading technology entrepreneurs. Makers love to build, they are creatives, the movers and shakers of our generation seeing opportunity where others see none. It is for these reasons the world needs more of them, and I am proud to call myself one.

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?
I hope to make Kitables a national household name, and really help empower the maker movement, both for those looking to do projects and the project creators. As far as Spark I hope to solidify our position as the one stop shop for young entrepreneurial talent and expand what young people think of when they hear the word entrepreneurship, it’s not just tech (although tech is awesome).

What do you wish you could make but don’t know how to (yet)?
The Forbes 30 under 30 list
But in all seriousness.. I actually don’t know how to code at all, I hope to learn at least front end web dev from our class at Spark this fall.

Earth to Pluto – Cathy Olkin, Planetary Scientist to Speak at STEAM Fest

Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest is honored to present Cathy Olkin, of the Southwest Research Institute, at 4pm on Sunday, September 6th.

Cathy is a planetary scientist at Southwest Research Institute in Boulder, CO.   Her main topic of research is the outer solar system, specifically planetary atmospheres and surfaces.

Cathy enjoys chasing the shadows of stars to learn about planetary atmospheres through ‘stellar occultation’ observations. These events have taken Cathy to many exotic locations from Hawaii, to the Marshall Islands, Australia, South Africa and Switzerland.

She also enjoys studying the ices in the outer solar system.  On Pluto, Triton and other bodies, molecules that are usually in gaseous state on Earth are solid at the cold temperatures of the outer solar system.  Using infrared spectroscopy, spreading infrared light into its separate wavelengths, we can learn about these ices including methane ice, nitrogen ice, carbon monoxide ice and ethane ice.03_Olkin_01

Cathy didn’t always know that she wanted to be a planetary scientist.  As a child, she was interested in many different subjects including how things worked.  She liked to take household items (like the phone) apart.

Cathy attended MIT where she earned a bachelor’s degree in Aerospace and Aeronautical engineering in 1988.  She then proceeded to Stanford to earn a Masters degree in the same field.  After that, Cathy took a job at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) where she worked in the Navigation section on the Cassini mission (well before it launched).

Motivated by the exciting science of the Cassini mission, Cathy decided to go back to MIT to study planetary science.  She obtained her PhD at MIT in 1996 based largely on airborne astronomical observations used to study the atmosphere of Neptune’s largest moon, Triton.

From there, she worked at Lowell Observatory in Flagstaff, Arizona investigating the rings of Saturn and using data from the Hubble Space Telescope to measure the mass ratio of Charon (Pluto’s largest moon) to Pluto.

NH_NationalAirAndSpaceMuseumCathy now works at Southwest Research Institute where she is currently the Deputy Project Scientist for NASA’s New Horizons mission to Pluto.  Working on New Horizons is the perfect job for her, combining her background in engineering and her scientific interests. The spacecraft traveled more than 9 years and 3 billion miles to reach the Pluto system. This summer, New Horizons spacecraft flew through the Pluto system taking the first ever high-resolution images of Pluto and its surface.  The data from the encounter with the Pluto system is continuing to be returned to the ground, and we can already see that this information has transformed our understanding of the Pluto system.

Meet A Maker: Pinshape

Pinshape is offering a 20% discount on 3D models to MakerBoulder fans! Just use the code “boulder”. Oh and hey, if you sign up for a new account or already have an account, Pinshape started a deals page for their Community that gives 5-25% off of 3D Printing Accessories – https://pinshape.com/deals

What does Pi3D-Community-Team-Pinshapenshape do?

Pinshape is the next generation 3D Printing Community & Marketplace for brands, designers and makers. Our community helps make 3D printing easier and more fun. We help brands and amazing 3D designers bring their 3D printable digital products to customers worldwide while respecting their Intellectual Property.

Who is your target customer?

Pinshape is a community for anyone who makes, designs, or prints 3D models. We work with global Brands and 3D designers to bring really innovative products to market. Most of our community members own 3D printers and use Pinshape to explore high quality models to print. We’re focused on Brands, companies, 3D Designers, 3D Engineers / Innovators, Makers, Hobbyists, & Teachers!

What is your most inspiring customer feedback?

“We’re working crazy hard to create the best experience possible for our community members to explore high quality models. We’re growing 150% month over month for the past 6 months! That’s the best customer feedback we can ever ask for. We have a lot of community on Pinshape and people really appreciate how much everyone engages with each other to help make 3D Design & Printing, easier and fun.” – Lucas Matheson CEO at Pinshape

Some of the most inspiring customer feedback has come on 3DPI where customers backed our platform in an article comparing us to Thingiverse. Read & Comment Here.

Here is what our community is saying about Pinshape.com:

“This site has been very valuable to me and I am sure others will think so too. There are some great creative ideas available as well.”
“It’s an amazing way to spread out your work and find extremely useful parts”
“Because the community is awesome”
“A more user friendly site, with more usable search functions”
“Pinshape seems to have a tighter relationship with customers and designers”
“Reputable, quality models, good platform to launch from”
“for more serious 3D printing individuals, the value of observing settings and results enables the tuning and diagnostics of equipment in a way that isn’t really being engaged thoughtfully or rigorously by others“
“3D Designers use Pinshape because of the transparency within the community and know that their designs are safe with them. Other websites have frustrated 3D Designers because of Intellectual Property disputes where Designers have lost the rights to their Designs.”

Where do you see your company in five years?

One of the most exciting things about 3D printing is the ability for people to customize and personalize digital products. The way consumers purchase products is about to change significantly. The next generation of consumers will explore models online, easily customize them, click a few buttons and have a unique product(s) 3D printed and shipped the same day.

Pinshape is building a new way for brands and customers to create products and innovate. Our strategy is to focus on bringing the best quality products to market and leveraging technology to make the experience as seamless as possible.

Why is Pinshape important and what will your customers get out of being members?

-The Best 3D Designers in the world use Pinshape
-Friendly Community with Expert Knowledge and Wisdom
-Thousands of 3D Designs to Browse, Print, and Share
-A ton of information and free resources to help with 3D Designing, 3D Printing, and everything in between.
-Free membership gets access to deals on 3D Printers, Filament, and Accessories; savings up to 25%
-Streaming Technology to keep your Designs and Intellectual Property Safe
-Contests are run frequently that encourage the community of designers, and engineers to create, and share their work with aim of winning awesome prizes like 3D Printers, Software, Filament, and gift cards.

What else do you want our readers to know?

We’re at the very beginning of a really exciting time! 3D printing is here and it’s growing everyday. If you’re passionate about design, or just love printing, you’re invited to join Pinshape; learn from the most experienced makers, hackers and designers and contribute to our ever-growing community.

We have a community-first approach so we value every insight that is provided and plan to keep making our 3D Printing Community and Marketplace a destination that appreciates Design, Creativity, and Innovation.

We feature a Designer on a monthly basis based on their work and involvement within the community. At Pinshape, we want to help Designers get their designs noticed as well as printed for free or sold to buyers who want to pay for specific designs. We are actively helping Designers become Entrepreneurs by provided them with the opportunity to put their product designs in front of a qualified audience as well as to educate them on best practices through educational resources and newsletters to make 3D printing as streamlined as possible

How did your company get started and why?

Everyone at Pinshape has a passion for 3D printing and the future of the industry. We love seeing new products being designed and printed every day. For us, quality is King, and we want to build a community and platform that brings the best quality 3d content to market. We want to work with the most innovative companies, 3d designers, hackers, makers, hobbyists and teachers to create truly unique and inspiring digital products.

We got started because we saw a need to bring really amazing 3D content to the market. Without great content, 3D printing isn’t exciting! We went through the 500 Startups accelerator program in Silicon Valley, raised our initial seed round, hired an amazing team, and built what Pinshape is today.

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

My best advice is to ask for advice from really smart, really experienced, and really passionate entrepreneurs. Unlike a lot of industries, the startup community is full of ultra generous founders who will take time and help. If you want to get someone, find someone who’s been there before and ask them specific questions that will allow you to take actionable steps to building your company.

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: HyPars

denny and elliotMeet Denny, Isaac and Mitzi Newland, The startup team for HyPars LLC. We are two dads, a mom, a husband and wife team, a semi-retired nuclear engineer, a very retired customer service manager, a tech support specialist and soon, professional toymakers!isaac and mitzi

What do you make?

HyPars, the cool name for hyperbolic paraboloids. They are geometry based building toys that we hope the world will soon come to love.

How did you get started making and why?

Denny invented the toys and needed a lot of help getting them to market. Mitzi got involved with the technical writing and Isaac pitched in. We’ve just been taking on more roles as they come up. Turns out there are a lot of hats to wear.

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

When Denny started, he thought he had put together every type of creation possible with HyPars. As soon as we showed them to new people, the ideas began flooding in! It’s great to see that everyone has amazing ideas and we’re happy to share in them. Mitzi’s favorite so far is the Helical Coil that a future geneticist made. Love it!

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

Perseverance is required

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

Seeing the ideas that people have come to life firsthand!

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

Hopefully, we will be creating our toys in our brand new building in Longmont, Colorado. We’ve secured land just east of Sandstone Ranch and should be breaking ground on the building within the next year!

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

Hyperbolic paraboloids do not always lend themselves to creating the exact shapes you want. We still haven’t found a good way to make a cube shaped box, but we’re working on it.

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

The owners of Zometools! We’re huge fans.

Meet a Maker: Boxwood Pinball

Boxwood Pinball is made by Bill and Travis, two artists that love pinball and use their talents to create the most amazing handcrafted wooden pinball machines.

William Manke owner of Boxwood Pinball is a kinetic sculptor. I enjoy the learning process and craftsmanship of woodworking. I spend my days inventing pinball machines and honing my craft.

Screen Shot 2015-07-20 at 10.29.52 AMWhat do you make?
I make wooden pinball machines that use board game style rules.

How did you get started making and why?
Boxwood Pinball started as an artist collaboration between William Manke and Travis Hetman. We both love playing pinball and use our skills to create our own machines.

What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about what you make?
Pinball designer Barry Oursler, who has games all over the world, described it as “The Flintstones” come to life.

What is your advice to creators looking to do what you do or make what you make?
The most important part of being a creator is being CREATIVE, show me something no one else has seen.10151892_282983288528537_3560899948052722914_n

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?
The maker movement is all about the melding of art and science, science lets your imagination come alive.

Where do you see your making going in the next 3 to 5 years?
Young makers are all about limitless possibilities, using technology is second nature to them, and they will take us places we never dreamed of.

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

Bonus question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Albert Einstein11164789_433992793427585_988850267037516284_n

Boxwood Pinball will be joining us at this year’s Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest. If you’re interested in sponsoring the creation of a LIFE SIZE (6′ tall) multi-player pinball game, email Anne@MakerBoulder.com!

Inventions we Love! Matrix Flare

We had so much fun at Denver Mini Maker Faire!  We saw tons of great new things, and met interesting people that are working on creative and wonder-inducing new inventions.

One of our favorites is Matrix Flare (and they’ve signed up to exhibit at the upcoming STEAM Fest – so be sure to join us and check them out!)

We interviewed Tasha Bingman and learned more about Matrix Flare.  We hope you’ll support her Kickstarter campaign.  We think you’ll be inspired by her story.

An idea is born
matrix.cubes

Matrix Flare cubes show off their creative animations and artwork created in the Pixel Maker App.

Tasha initially created this project for her 7 year old so he could learn about circuits, programming, graphical user interfaces (GUI), and still be able to create art quickly.  He enjoys it so much she thought it would be a fantastic Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) project.  After they’d created a couple of them, they realized that they were playing with the animations so much they figured others would enjoy them as well. Read more

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!