space, astronauts, international space station

Story Time from Space – International Space Station Astronauts Reading Boulder Author’s Books

Space – The Perfect Place for a Bedtime Story!


Story Time from Space was contributed by Dr. Jeffrey Bennett.  Learn more about Dr. Bennet at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest.

Story time from Space

The International Space Station (ISS) enjoys a thrilling view of Earth.

What you cannot imagine, you cannot do.
— Astronaut Alvin Drew (STS-118, STS-133)

How many people are living in space right now? I’ve found that since the end of the Space Shuttle program, most Americans think the answer is zero. But it’s not. There are generally 6 people living aboard the International Space Station, including Americans, Russians, and usually at least one crew member from another nation. All the astronauts currently get rides to and from the station on Russian rockets, but it’s still an international outpost. There’s lots of great science going on there, involving not only professional scientists but tens of thousands of students who have participated in the Student Spaceflight Experiments Program. And now, there’s another way for kids, parents, and teachers to be a part of the human adventure of space exploration: Story Time From Space.

Story Time From Space is a program designed to combine literacy and STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) education. The basic program plan is to send children’s books and related science demonstrations up to the International Space Station, where astronauts video themselves reading the books and conducting the demos. The edited videos are then posted on the web, along with suggested activities (for kids, teachers, and families) and curriculum materials that can be used in the classroom. Thousands of teachers have already signed on to make use of the Story Time From Space program, and because it is freely available on the web, it has the potential to reach tens of millions of children around the world.

I have the good fortune of being involved with the Story Time From Space program, thanks to the fact that program founders Patricia Tribe (a long-time director of education at Space Center Houston) and astronaut Alvin Drew chose my first five children’s books as the first set to send to the International Space Station. The books launched in January, 2014 and continue to orbit over head every 90 minutes, at a speed of some 17,000 miles per hour – which means they’ve now logged almost 300 million miles of travel.

story, space, astronaut, children's book, reading, international space station

Story Time from Space books that feature educational stories read by astronauts

 

A second set of books was launched in December 2015. It includes my new book, I, Humanity, and books by Levar Burton (of Star Trek and Reading Rainbow fame), Andrea Beaty, “Lost my Name,” former astronaut Danny Olivas, and two books by astronaut Mark Kelly — which were read by his brother Scott during his “year in space” mission that just ended.

space station, story, reading, astronaut

Dr. Jeffrey Bennett’s book featured in the second set of children’s books launched to the ISS.

The first set of science demos was launched last June (2015), but unfortunately that was aboard the SpaceX rocket that was unsuccessful. The demos have since been rebuilt and are being prepared for a launch this summer (2016).

Here’s a brief bit of text and a video introducing the  overall program:

Imagine Astronauts on the International Space Station reading stories to the children of Earth as the world rotates below.

Imagine videos of the readings accessible via the web to everyone in the world, along with additional videos of educational science demonstrations conducted in weightlessness, all accompanied by lesson plans and classroom activities that teachers or families can use. .

Imagine a community of educators, scientists, and artists all working together to make this dream a reality…

Now, imagine no more…it’s Story Time from Space!

Wondering how you can get involved?

Here are a few ways:

I believe that for any form of education to be successful, we need to focus simultaneously on three things, which I like to call education, perspective, and inspiration. The education piece is the specific content that we want students to learn. The perspective piece should show them how what they are learning will help them gain perspective on their own lives and on our place in the universe. The inspiration piece should make them care about what they learn, ideally in a way that makes them dream of how much better the world could be if they get an education and become part of the solution for the future. Story Time From Space encapsulates this education-perspective-inspiration approach better than any other education program I’ve ever seen. I hope you’ll become a part of it.

 

Disclaimer: While I am now part of the team supporting Story Time From Space, I do not receive any compensation from this program. I support it because I’m honored to have had my books selected by the program, and because I so strongly believe in its goals.

Learn more about Dr. Jeffrey Bennett by visiting his website.

Brainy, improv, laughter

The Brainy Benefits of Improvising!

In the world of brainy research, play is getting a pretty good rap right now. Scientists are actively studying the benefits of play on brain development. Let’s not forget about one of the best benefits of Improv – laughing!  Laughter not only exercises our muscles and makes us breathe, it also decreases stress hormones and improves our immune systems!  Here are some of the other amazing benefits of “brainy play!”

Putting the Brakes on Perfectionism

For those of us who suffer from perfectionism and it’s unpleasant manifestations (over-thinking, mental paralysis, undershooting, self-criticism) there is hope!

Charles Limb is a surgeon who studies creativity at John Hopkins University. Using fMRI technology, Limb looked at the brains of musicians while playing a memorized piece of music and compared it to their brain while improvising off the same music. Limb discovered that improvising activated the self-expression portion of the brain while simultaneously deactivating the self-censoring part of the brain.

Limb’s work stresses that as we allow the self-monitoring part of the brain to rest and the self-expressive part of the brain to come to the forefront, we open the door to the creative mind. So not only to we get a rest from the judge in our head, we invite the muse to play.

For Charles Limb’s TedTalk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MkRJG510CKo

Brainy Play Creativity and Creative Problem Solving

In addition to Limb’s work, researchers have been studying the benefits of imaginative play, which really is another form of improvisation, on a child’s ability to creatively solve problems. The following studies all focus on children.

Wyver and Spence (1999) examined two types of problems: I’ll call them simple and complex (really convergent and divergent problem solving)  and the effects that play had on the ability to solve these types of problems.  Among other things, this study revealed a significant relationship between pretend play and complex (divergent) problem solving.

Most problems in life require complex thinking so enhancing the ability to use creative problem-solving is as intuitive as it gets.

Family fun with Improv!

Family fun with Improv!

Improves Language Skills

Studies have demonstrated a connection between imaginative or pretend play and language skill acquisition.

One psychologist, Edward Fisher (1992) reviewed 46 studies on the cognitive benefits of brainy play. This mega-analysis (aka meta-analysis) revealed that children who participate in dramatic play improve their performance both from a cognitive-linguistic as well as a social affective perspective.

Sounds pretty technical but I think you get it. While language acquisition is clearly important to children, it’s usefulness is with us our whole lives. Being able to express and communicate effectively with others is at the center of most of our interactions and relationships.

Improves Self Regulation and Reasoning

As we continue to see the importance that emotional intelligence (EQ) has on future career and relationship success, it only makes sense that understanding how to activate and develop this in individuals is super critical.

Scientists studying the effects of imaginative play on self-regulation and the ability to reason discovered that the frequency of pretend play in children was correlated with their ability to self regulate. Self-regulation includes managing emotions, impulses and focusing attention – all important aspects to the development of emotional intelligence. I am convinced we would all be happier if we were better self-regulators.

More about the research at: http://www.parentingscience.com/benefits-of play.html#sthash.iFJsLPzZ.dpuf or http://ecrp.uiuc.edu/v4n1/bergen.html

More Improv Please!

Hopefully you are convinced that practicing and doing improvisation/imaginative play can have some pretty great side effects. If this article has peaked your interest, I will venture to make some suggestions. Keep in mind, I am not a scientist (ok- maybe at heart).

First off, life is an improvisation, so in some ways you are activating all these part of your brain everyday. But if you are wanting to increase your creativity, problem-solving, self-regulation, etc. while putting the brakes on your inner critic it makes sense to me that finding a way to improvise could be the ticket.

So if you’re a musician, you can spend more time improvising as opposed to playing memorized pieces.

Otherwise, taking an improv comedy class is a great way to access the imaginative side of your brain. You will play brainy games that get you out of your head and access your creative side. The more you do it, the more you will experience that sense of creative self-expression flowing from you. Plus, you will probably laugh more than you have in months – seriously – and we all know the benefits of laughter on the body, but that’s a whole other blog.

About Pam Farone

Pam Farone is a career satisfaction coach and improv instructor focused on creating joyful careers and cheerful work environments.

www.pamfarone.com

Resources

Buchsbaum D, Bridgers S, Skolnick Weisberg D, Gopnik A. 2012. The power of possibility: causal learning, counterfactual reasoning, and pretend play. Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 367(1599):2202-12. – See more at: http://www.parentingscience.com/benefits-of-play.html#sthash.iFJsLPzZ.dpuf

Fisher, Edward P. (1992). The impact of play on development: A meta-analysis. Play and Culture, 5(2), 159-181.

Limb CJ, Braun AR. Neural substrates of spontaneous musical performance: an FMRI study of jazz improvisation. PLoS One. 2008; 3(2):e1679. PMID: 18301756; PMCID: PMC2244806.

Walker CM and Gopnik A. 2013. Pretense and possibility–a theoretical proposal about the effects of pretend play on development: comment on Lillard et al. (2013). Psychol Bull. 139(1):40-4.

Wyver, Shirley R., & Spence, Susan H. (1999). Play and divergent problem solving: Evidence supporting a reciprocal relationship. Early Education and Development, 10(4), 419-444. EJ 593 718.

Dr. Tony Wagner, Author, Innovator, Educator

Dr. Tony Wagner – STEAM Fest Keynote Speaker on April 30th at Boulder Fairgrounds

Dr. Tony Wagner, Author, Innovator, Educator

Dr. Tony Wagner, author and innovator, will be the keynote speaker at STEAM Fest 2016

Dr. Tony Wagner has been shaking up education (and parenting), for years.  His six books, including bestselling Creating Innovators and The Global Achievement Gap, now in its Second Edition, are printed in over 14 languages and have sold millions of copies around the world.

He was recently the Strategic Education Advisor for a major new education documentary, “Most Likely to Succeed,” and co-authored the book by the same name with Ted Dintersmith.  Dr. Wagner joins us at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest to expose us all to ideas about how we can prepare our children (and ourselves), to be more creative and capable in the Innovation Era.

Dr. Wagner’s Seven Survival Skills for Careers, College and Citizenship

In his work as Expert in Residence at Harvard University’s new Innovation Lab, Dr. Wagner asserts that there are seven survival skills that we all need to not just succeed, but actually thrive in the Innovation Era.  These include(1):

  • Critical Thinking and Problem-Solving
  • Collaboration Across Networks and Leading by Influence
  • Agility and Adaptability
  • Initiative and Entrepreneurialism
  • Effective Oran and Written Communication
  • Accessing and Analyzing Information
  • Curiosity and Imagination

America is caught between a “rock and a hard place” according to Dr. Wagner, because we need new skills to be successful in our careers. But more and more, students are not graduating from our schools with these skills.  What’s more, they are motivated to learn differently as a result of growing up in the “Net Generation.”  Our schools have not changed as quickly as our students have.

What Motivates the Net Generation?

Many things are different for a student that has been raised with instant access to information. The Net Generation has also shopped with stores like Amazon.com – where they are treated personally and are “served” relevant products based on their shopping behaviors.

Young people have come to expect a personalized experience in all interactions.  They are also accustomed to being able to explore areas that they are interested in through independent exploration. They surf YouTube, find special-interest sites, and connect to other people that share their interests.

This web of connections is ever growing and changing.  Young people are exposed to new tools every day and they are not intimidated by the rapid change in their world.  They want to learn from their peers, but don’t necessarily respect authority.  Their best learning often happens outside a traditional classroom.

What’s Next for Education? How can it Keep Up?

author, achievement gap

Three of Dr. Wagner’s six internationally bestselling books.

Dr. Wagner’s specific prescriptions for adapting education systems include a fresh look at critical topics to zero in on developing the seven survival skills mentioned above.  He advocates for activity-based (also known as project-based or problem-based) learning which increases classroom discussion and engagement, and often deepens learning.

The courses suggested, “aim not to draw students into a discipline, but to bring the disciplines into students’ lives… in ways that link the arts and sciences with the 21st century world that students will face and the lives they will lead after college.” (2)

Join us for Dr. Tony Wagner’s Presentation

Saturday, April 30th at 2pm

Your ticket to STEAM Fest includes admission to Dr. Wagner’s presentation.

Purchase tickets to STEAM Fest HERE.  Seating at Dr. Wagner’s presentation is limited and is first-come, first-served.  Arrive early to ensure your seat.

 

(1) Dr. Tony Wagner, Copyright 2010. http://www.slideshare.net/thinkglobalschool/tony-wagner-nais-presentation-11351911
(2) Harvard General Education Homepage: http://www.generaleducation.fas.harvard.edu/icb/icb.do

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

Four Reasons Women Aren’t Succeeding in STEM

In the past few years there has been a significant push to encourage women and girls to pursue careers in STEM.  From White House initiatives to non-profits, it seems like closing the gender gap is finally becoming a national priority.

And rightly so, according to the Economics & Statistics Administration women make up nearly half of all jobs in the U.S. economy but only about 25 percent of STEM jobs.  This remains consistent, even as more college-educated women enter the workforce.  In fact, the number of women in computer science has actually decreased since 1991.

Women in STEM earn about 33 percent more than women in non-STEM jobs.  The gender wage gap in STEM is significantly smaller than in other fields.  So why aren’t more women succeeding in STEM?

The Harvard Business Review highlighted four biases that are keeping women out.  Through in-depth interviews with 60 female scientists and a survey of 557 female scientists, researchers think they are closing in on the problem.

Pressure to Prove Yourself 

Of those surveyed, two-thirds reported a significant pressure to prove themselves in the workplace over and over again.  This phenomena has been the subject of social psychology, but this is the first instance of real women confirming this as their experience.

Masculine vs Feminine

Women in the workplace are forced to inhabit a duality — behave in masculine ways to appear competent while acting feminine to be likable.  Of those surveyed, more than a third said they feel pressure to act “feminine” to be likable.  Around half of the women said they have received backlash for exhibiting traditionally masculine behaviors, like being direct, decisive and outspoken.

Starting a Family

Nearly two-thirds of the women surveyed said their professional lives changes drastically after having children.  Not because of the added responsibly of starting a family, but rather because of how their colleagues began to view them.  Women with kids found their commitment and competency coming into question.  Co-workers and managers began assuming they would lose their passion and drive after having children.

The “Woman’s Spot”

Discrimination in the workplace is also turning some women against each other.  Studies show that woman who have dealt with adversity and discrimination often avoid professional relationships with other women.  Many woman report feeling they are competing for “the woman’s spot” in organizations that are mostly male.

Initiatives to close the gender gap often focus on building the STEM pipeline or point fingers at personal choices, but if this study is any indicator, the real problem is actually gender bias.

So the real questions is: how do we make sure women are being accepted in the STEM community and workplace?

Sources:

http://www.esa.doc.gov/reports/women-stem-gender-gap-innovation

https://hbr.org/2015/03/the-5-biases-pushing-women-out-of-stem

Alexa Chrisbacher is the Director of Public Relations at Stem Match, a social media platform for the STEM community.  She is also pursuing an MFA at Naropa University in Boulder, Colorado.  Connect with Alexa at stemmatch.net.

Magic Afoot: Create your own Miniature Fairy Garden!

There exists a world where everything is possible; where fairies and woodland creatures rejoice together in peace and harmony. There is a place full of wonders and magic surrounded by enchanting forests, sparkle and bewilderment. Such a place does not abide only in our imagination and dreams, but it is present in our own gardens and backyards. The only thing needed for this world to come alive is just a pinch of your inspiration and wit. Here we provide you a step-by-step tutorial on how to create your own marvelous fairy garden.

Fairy GardensContainers and Pots

 The first step to creating a wondrous fairy garden is choosing the right containers and pots. This will serve as the foundation for all other details needed to complete this magical setting. First you need to decide on the amount of containers you wish to set up. Make sure to pick out bigger sized pots so you would be able to add more details. Make use of old and broken pots and turn them into fairytale houses.

Potting Mix

The second thing you need to consider is your own choice of potting mix. This should include various choices of tiny rocks and stones, adequate type of soil and other elements such as activated carbon that will help clean and filter the water that does not get absorbed. You can also add different details like beads or pearls just to add a bit of charisma to it. Add a bit of dazzle and allure and make your trendy garden setting.

Plants

The best solution when it comes to choosing suitable plants for your magical fairy garden is making your choice diverse. The more the merrier they say. This way you will be able to create an enchanting surrounding for all the magical beings residing there. Go crazy with color and size of plants. The only thing you should keep in mind is to pick out plants that have the same growing requirements and that will grow well in your climate and area. Do not be afraid to experiment with different plant life so you would be able to design your own fairy oasis.Fairy Garden Collage

Decoration

 The last but certainly the most exciting part of the project is adding details and decoration according to your personal affinities and liking. Fairy figures, bird houses, stone paths and mushroom homes are only the beginning. Make sure to enter your own world of imagination and create a setting where everything is possible. Think of the most impressionable design ideas and use them in your miniature fairytale gardens. Miniature sculptures and figures accompanied by small details like windmills, benches, different lights and similar are also a great idea. There are no rules when it comes to decoration. It should reflect your own world of fantasy and imagery.

It does not matter if you are an adult and have your regular every day routines. We all are still part children who believe in magic and fairy tales.  So every time you need to escape from your difficulties you can find shelter and comfort by visiting your magical friends. It is the perfect opportunity to relive your favorite childhood moments and become carefree and lighthearted even just for a brief period of time.

Author’s Bio: Lana Hawkins is a student of architecture and a crafty girl from Sydney, Australia. She enjoys writing about landscaping and garden décor and she is especially interested in green building. Amazing gardens created by landscape design company from Sydney inspired her to write this article.  Lana loves spending her free time cooking for her friends.

 

Meet: Mark’s Art Car

Meet a Maker: Mark Moffett and the Fantastical Art Car

The Art Car parked at Alloy Gallery in Lafayette

The Art Car parked at Alloy Gallery in Lafayette

After a months-long struggle, we finally secured a car on August 8, 2015! A 1996 Volkswagen Golf. Thanks to Martha Lanaghen and Jeff Scott from MakerBolder!

My build partner for this pro ject is Jackson Ellis. Construction began on August 17 at Alloy Gallery in Lafayette. Jackson and I worked through the week, reconfiguring, removing and welding the skin. Our sheet metal and metal objects were donated by Uncle Benny’s Building Supplies, in Loveland.

Our first glueing event took place at Art Night Out in Lafayette, Friday, August 21. It was a great night and the town really embraced the project. Several members of the community participated. We painted some areas of the the car with chalkboard paint for those who wanted11924774_10153163792670698_1240388022519427465_n clean hands and clothes. We received donated objects from Sister Carmen, RAFT Colorado; and Art Parts Creative Reuse Center in Boulder. I purchased other materials at Goodwill Outlet World in Denver. Thanks to our host J Lucas Loeffler and Alloy Gallery!

The following night, we trekked to Denver for the Colorado Night Market. An audience participation, pop-up art show, held in the back of U-Haul Trucks! It was a very original, fun-filled evening. However, the most excitement came during our trip back to Lafayette, when we we’re pulled over by Westminister Police. Our tail-lights were on the fritz! Fortunately, they were more curious than anything. We were allowed to continue, as long as our support van had it’s flashers on! Thanks officers!

 Then, we trekked to the Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest where we visited with hundreds of people and worked with the materials we had collected.  More work is yet to come, and we’re always looking for donations for this car – or if you have an ol11887525_10153159427525698_5869335902549702919_od car you’d love to donate, we’re ready to start new projects as well.  Just email info@www.makerbolder1.dev to learn more.

Great objects include:

  • Happy Meal Toys
  • Action figures
  • Dolls and doll heads
  • Skeletons and skulls (plastic please!)
  • Multiples: shells, marbles, small rocks, corks, pennies
  • Mardi Gras beads and glass beads
  • Old jewelry and gems
  • Any interesting plastic items
  • Old damaged musical instruments

All items should be weather-proof and able to spend time in the Colorado sun.

Thanks for your interest and keep watching for updates!
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.