We Built This (Cardboard) City…

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Cardboard City Bridge is a success!

05/28/2015 – Eric Gundersen

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

Lesson #1: Safety, safety, safety

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

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At work on the prototype Cardboard City

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

Lesson #2: Cutting

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

Lesson #3: Creature Comforts

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

Lesson #4: Balance
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Our prototype in progress!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet a Maker: Martha with Maker Boulder

I am a serial entrepreneur with three small start-ups under my belt (well, one of them is not a startup anymore as we’ve been in business for over five years). My first venture is my ongoing education consulting firm. The second is an electronic word game – similar to Scrabble, that you play on your computer or phone, only it has some unique rules, and the third is MakerBoulder, we produce events and activities that connect people to hands-on learning.

What do you make?

In addition to making businesses, I am a “try-anything-once” crafter – I’ve done a lot of scrapbooking, needlework, sewing, and photography, and I dabble in duct tape, gardening and a few other random crafts. I also love to cook.

How did you get started making and why?

I don’t have a choice, really. I can’t sit idle. Even in front of the TV. My mind needs to be creating something, so I keep trying new things. Some stick for a while, and some are abandoned (even before they are finished sometimes).

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

I wear this silly duct tape apron to a lot of events. It’s been photographed over two dozen times, and once a mother and daughter made me stand there while they talked about their own – before I could leave, they had each designed their own projects, and made a plan to get together to make their own. It actually made me feel really great – to see them creating in action, and to see how excited they were to try to make one on their own. That’s what this is all about – get your hands dirty, try things out, iterate, etc.

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

Just do it. The first one won’t be perfect. The next one will be better. No matter what, you’ll feel great about making something.

What is your favorite part about the maker movement?

The look in someone’s eyes when they discover something new, or when they accomplish something for the first time. “I did it!”

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

I hope it is just like it is today. That I get to try lots of new things, dabble in a few favorites, and with any luck, work with others to help them try things, too.

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

Well, I’ve always wished I could make great music – but I can’t sing, and I can’t seem to learn to read music, so that’s a struggle. Aside from music, I’d love to learn to work with metals – silversmith, or even heavy metals – welding. So cool.

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

Meryl Streep. Sandra Bullock. The CEO of Tech Stars. My Mom.

Catapult in to Fun, At-Home Activity!

7bec1ae57a5e19277834222ff4122b40We are honored to attend events all around the Front Range where we get to interact with adults and children alike and talk about our mission.

Most recently, we were at the Frank Shorter Kids Fun Run for Health where we met several amazing inventors that created unique designs for desktop catapults.  This fun activity is best when you simply put the materials out, and let kids go wild.  They will invent, iterate and problem solve.  You can set up your own targets using cups and bowls, or the sink – or your mom (as long as the ammo is a marshmallow or a nice, soft pom pom!)

Materials:
  • Popsicle stickscandy-corn-catapult-1
  • Rubber bands
  • Plastic spoons or plastic water bottle lids

Yep, that’s it.  If you want to get fancy, you could add:

  • Alligator Clips
  • Clothes pins

You can also visit our Pinterest page to see more complicated designs.

 

(Thanks to FrugalFun4Boys.com for the example here.)

 

Take a Kitables survey!

Have you ever seen an awesome project you wanted to do and then looked at the parts list and just thought “NOPE!”

Our friends at one of our favorite local start-ups, Kitables are trying to solve that problem by providing kits for projects you love right to your door. No more wasting time and money sourcing parts, thank goodness, that stuff takes for-ev-er and can be cray expensive.

But they need our help…

They are trying to make their products better for makers and would greatly appreciate it if you took a minute of your time to fill out this quick 9 question survey!

If you do you will be entered to win a Kitables Kit! (we’ve taken the survey 43 times already… just kidding, they won’t let us.)

Also if you would like to reach out to them directly with questions, suggestions, or just want to say hi email them at info@kitables.co

Daily Camera Video of Boulder Mini Maker Faire!

How could we possibly express our gratitude to everyone who helped make this weekend’s Boulder Mini Maker Faire possible? The volunteers were astounding! And so were the makers, adult adventurers of the mind, parents and kids. Want to see what it was all about (or recap a FUN weekend?)? Check out this video from the Boulder Daily Camera!

Innovation in Education Summit Schedule & Program

Are you at the Faire yet? Probably not, but if you’re a teacher, 10:00am today starts your chance to earn maybe the funnest CE credits this side of anywhere! Click to download the program and final schedule for the Innovation in Education Summit, below. Or scroll and put on your bifocals to see what’s up today and tomorrow!

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This Weekend, Meet Alicia Gibb, ED of Open Source Hardware Association

Alicia Gibb is amazed by something.

Alicia Gibb is amazed by something.

What do you know about open source software? Heck, even if you’re not a hacker or developer active in the open-source community, you probably know it has something to do with publicly sharing code — you put your software online and contribute tweaks and twists in a crowdsourced way to things that other people have put online. That’s open source: nobody owns it and you’re free to do with it what you please.

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FREE Online Class from Craftsy! (Just For Being Awesome)

Sewing, weaving, painting, woodworking, cake decorating, gardening, cooking, jewelery, photography and much, much more — pick an online class from Craftsy and it’s yours free, just for being savvy enough to find this post! Craftsy is also one of the essential sponsors of the Boulder Mini Maker Faire, this Saturday and Sunday at the Boulder County Fairgrounds! (Tickets cheaper in advance at the link below.)

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Coalesce Teaches Creativity as Well as Tools

“I get twenty-one-year-old seniors who can code, write anything for CNC, but don’t know whether to use a screwdriver or a hammer in the shop,” says Jenny Blacklock, teaching associate professor of mechanical engineering at the Colorado School of Mines. Along with Greg VanderBeek (ME) and BJ Titchenal (Ne’er-Do-Well), Blacklock runs Coalesce, a design, fabrication and maker education space in Boulder, CO.

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SketchUp Turns Doodles Into Plans

Have you ever built a deck or a chicken coop or a bookshelf? How about the great and varied tchotchkes of 3D printing? Or bigger stuff like a shed, a boat or a house? Generally you have to draw something before you make something — be it on a napkin or CAD. But so many of us don’t draw; we don’t give ourselves permission to be creative in that way, saying we’re bad at it or we don’t know what we’re doing (sound like math to anyone? But that’s another story…). And if you do draw, then dollars to donuts that unless you’re a trained professional you’re terrified to take your doodles or plans or graphic ideas to the land of 0’s and 1’s that is your computer.

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