Build With 10,000 Keva Planks at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire!

Keva.CastleKeva planks seem simple: they’re 1/4-inch by 3/4-inch by 4 1/2-inch wooden blocks. But like Lego, from these unassuming pieces, wondrous creations arise. For example, take a look at Keva founder Ken Schel building this structure for Dreamworks to resemble the Shrek Castle. Look even closer and you’ll see that every piece is a simple, rectangular plank. There’s not a lot of complex rules here, just, “No glue, no connectors,” says Schel.

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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 (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!)

Innovation in Education Summit

Calling all educators!  Are you interested in exploring the world of Making, Design Thinking, and Innovation?  Do you want to take part in FUN, Hands on, Amazing workshops and seminars designed to help you inspire and engage your students while teaching 21st century skills?

Maker Boulder is bringing together an amazing diversity of makers, educators, experts, thought leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs from the Boulder area and beyond to share experience, information, and enthusiasm. Collectively we will learn about innovation as a way of thinking and collaborate to discover how to bring making, hacking, design thinking and entrepreneurship into our classrooms, schools, and communities. Our experts will provide classes, seminars and presentations to demonstrate not only the techniques of making but also how the skills making requires and trains promote the goals of modern S.T.E.A.M education and curriculum. Bringing the opportunity for educators of all kinds together at the Faire is key to building a community that will last long past one joyous, frenzied weekend in January.

Join us at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire on January 31st and February 1st.  You will get to explore amazing hands on learning opportunities at the Faire itself and join other educators in seminars and workshops designed to engage, teach and inspire.  We want you to share your knowledge and experience with the group!

Sign up below to learn more!

Boulder Mini Maker Faire T-Shirt Design Contest!


Maker Boulder T-shirt? Check. Boulder Mini Maker Faire T-shirt? HELP!

It’s time to unleash your inner maker, let your creative juices flow, and put pen to paper for the Maker Boulder T-Shirt Design Contest! We’ve got a Maker Boulder T-shirt (as modeled by MB’s own Mary Anne here), but we are immaculately devoid of a T-shirt for the upcoming Boulder Mini Maker Faire. You can help us change that. Are you a professional designer looking to feather your cap and get your name out there in the Boulder community? Or a mini maker with a penchant for penning? Or a concerned citizen affronted by the lack of maker imagery in Pearl Street fashion? Send us your design (see below)! The winning entry will be printed, indelibly inking your awesomeness for all to see, and we will use the full reach of our social media to spam the Boulder area with news of the winning designer.

Here’s the 411:

1. Use one color to draw something super cool that somehow includes the following information: Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31-Feb 1, 2015 @ Boulder County Fairgrounds. Don’t forget to sign your design and/or include your website (in a small, tasteful way…)!

2. Bring your design into the digital age by snapping a pic, scanning or otherwise compter-izing it.

3. Tweet the picture and tag @MakerBoulder in your message.

4. Let us know you entered by using the cool little giveaway interface by local Boulder, CO startup, Rafflecopter, below! Just paste in the URL of your tweet to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Drink & Draw: Strategic Illustration Expert, Chris Chopyak, Offers Boulder Workshop!

The internet doesn’t lie: people would rather look at your information than read it. That’s why an infographic goes viral while a white paper with the same information lives in the backwaters of your company blog ne’er to be read again. And when the human brain plans things — be it a business strategy or a book idea — we don’t see it in sentences; we “see” it in pictures. International visual communications expert, Chris Chopyak, knows how you can see it better. Her book Picture Your Business Strategy details the brush strokes of the winning strategic illustration methods she’s used with organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to basement startups.

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Calculating the Effort to Spend on Thanksgiving

A couple years ago today, I was baking muffins with my son’s preschool class and set fire to the school. Okay, technically I didn’t set it on fire—it was only butter smoke from the tin that set off the alarm, necessitating the entire school of a couple hundred kids filing out to the basketball courts while the fire department arrived en mass.

After that, my wife took over the Wednesday cooking class and it was never NEARLY so exciting. Besides, Leif was line leader that day, and he was really, very proud to lead the class evacuation. (I remember standing there with my large metal bowl and wooden spoon, smelling of smoke and trying to look innocent.)

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Calling All Makers!


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


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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Calculate Best Bucket Size for Halloween Haul

Want a real Halloween nightmare? Imagine filling your child’s too-small bucket in the first three houses and going home with only a small slice of your kid’s potential rake. But if you allow your little monster (or in my case, blue whale with pink and purple barnacles), to carry a big bag, you should be prepared to spend the hours and hours (and hours) needed to fill it. Bad news: there are nightmares on both ends of the bag guesstimation spectrum.

So instead of playing the equivalent of Russian roulette with your child’s Halloween bag size, use the equation below to calculate—with the power of absolute mathematical certainty (wink, wink)—the bag size that’s best for you and yours.

•  T= Total time in hours you plan to spend trick-or-treating

•  A= Trick-or-treater’s age. If over 20 (or below zero…), shame on you. You’re stealing my kid’s goodies.

•  Hc= Hours spent on costume. If store-bought translate into hours at $20/hr.

•  Pd= Population density in trick-or-treat neighborhood. Enter 1 for “rural”, 2 for “open suburban”, 3 for “tight suburban”, or 4 for “Apt or dorm”

•  Ma= Estimated median age in neighborhood. For comparison, median age in the Gaza Strip is about 15 and in Japan about 41.

•  X= Your child’s ineffable, illogical, but very real lust for candy. Enter 1-10 with 10 being “has strategized since last Halloween”

Interpretation Key:

If Bckt is less than 1, your pockets are more than enough

If 1<7, use small-size, plastic jack-’o-lantern bucket

If 7<Bckt<15, use the standard trick-or-treating bucket

If 15<Bckt<25, use a grocery bag

If 25<Bckt, use a trash bag

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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: