Meet a Maker: Sorin with Mile High Astronomy

Meet our friend Sorin! Sorin is the brains and eyes behind Mile High Astronomy. We’ve partnered on some REALLY awesome events together and hope you’ve been lucky enough to join us. BUT, if you haven’t – come see Mile High Astronomy at STEAMFest 2020 and check out the latest Smartphone enabled telescopes, and build your own constellation projectors.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I share the wonders and beauty of the universe with others!

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

When I was a kid, my parents bought me a small red telescope for my birthday one year. That was my first introduction to astronomy, being able to see the Moon up close. Many years later, a trip to Mauna Kea, Hawaii, home to some of the world’s largest professional observatories, reignited that passion. Since then, I have been involved with astronomy outreach and non profits for the last 9 years. In 2017, I turned my passion for sharing the universe with others into a business, Mile High Astronomy!

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

Probably that a good telescope costs a lot less than you think. I wish I’d started sooner!

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

I see developing our own line of astronomical products! Astronomy is one of those fields where people are constantly inventing and innovating. We are just now starting to see telescopes that integrate with smart phones to make discovering the night sky easier than ever. The future of astronomy is a hotbed for experimenting and innovating.

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

We don’t know manufacturing yet, but we plan to learn! STEAM and the maker movement have opened up so many doors to building new products, and made it much more affordable to try out new ideas. I’m looking forward to making our own contributions to the astronomy equipment space in the years to come.

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

The great thing about STEAM is the emphasis on learning by doing, being willing to experiment, and to take a special delight in failing! One of the biggest aspects of learning is understanding that it’s not just OK to fail, it’s awesome! We learn so much more when something doesn’t work how we expected it to, and we take those lessons and build on them. STEAM is about not being afraid to try something new!

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

The hands on experiences!

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

We will be showing off some of the latest Smartphone enabled telescopes, and have a station for attendees to build their own constellation projectors!

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

It’s the WOW moments when someone sees the Moon, the Rings of Saturn, or the bands on Jupiter through a telescope for the first time!

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

To borrow a slogan, Just do it! There are so many resources available, and so many people who will be happy to help and encourage you. Never be afraid to fail when you try something new. Every great artist, engineer, and scientist who we celebrate for their amazing successes achieved those successes by experimenting and learning from thousands of failures that eventually lead them to something new and amazing.

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

Meet a Maker: Micah with BOAT

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

What do you do with your awesome self?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

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

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Meet a Maker: Bre with RabbitHole

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

What do you do with your awesome self?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

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

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What do you do with your awesome self?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

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

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

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

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

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

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

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

 “Will you marry me?”

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

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

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

Meet a Maker: Wayne with Boulder U-Fix-It-Clinic

Meet our friend Wayne! Wayne and his pals with the Boulder-U-Fix-It-Clinic have been super involved in the maker movement for the last several years (they joined us at Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest in 2018 and 2019) – showing people how to fix things they would normally throw away. How amazing is that?! We’re stoked to have them joining us for Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest 2020.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I organize the Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic [http://boulderufixitclinic.org], an ongoing series of free events where we invite people to bring their broken stuff and work with volunteer “fix-it” coaches to attempt to repair them. We’re keeping these repaired items out of the landfill, helping develop educated consumers, and introducing people to using tools.
Here’s how we look at this in the broader perspective:
The world needs more makers, and if you’re not sure if you’re a maker, try being a fixer first.
And, if you want a simple start to fixing, learn to fix a lamp.

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

My friend Peter Mui who runs http://fixitclinic.org in the San Francisco Bay Area challenged me to start a clinic in Boulder. Little did I know what this would turn into and how much I would enjoy this work!

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

Public libraries are great venues for the public to learn repair skills.

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

We helped get the Denver U-Fix-It Clinic get started and hope to assist other makers around Colorado to start clinics in their towns.

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

Broken plastic parts on appliances are often expensive to replace. We’ve experimented with quickly designing and printing 3D replacement parts, but the process is time-consuming. Imagine a network of fix-it clinics/repair cafes around the world sharing their part designs? It’s starting to happen via http://thingiverse.com, http://ifixit.com and other global community resources.

What’s your favorite part about the STEAM movement?

It’s awesome to see the creativity, excitement, and passion for making when people are exposed to the STEAM tools, technology, and skills.

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

We are thrilled to introduce simple electronic test equipment, hand tools, and troubleshooting techniques to STEAMFest visitors. It’s especially rewarding when a young family sits down with us and learns together.

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

We’ll be running our Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic lamp repair workshop. We’ll show people how to understand the simple electrical components of a lamp, and give them hands-on experience finding what’s wrong with a broken lamp, and the satisfying achievement of repairing to working condition. While we’re doing this, we tell participants about our fix-it clinics and invite them to come to our future clinics. And, we recruit the talented makers/fixers who wander by our booth to consider becoming Boulder U-Fix-It Clinic volunteer coaches, or perhaps consider starting a clinic in their community.

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

Sometimes, our fix-it clinic participants are amazed at our fix-it coach’s abilities to figure out why something broken and fix it. But, it’s not magical or mystical – all people have the innate ability to mentally decompose a complex thing into a collection of simple components, therefore, we all have the potential to be fixers and makers.

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

It’s fun to use tools to take things apart and put them back together. Come learn how to fix a lamp with us. You can do it!

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

Meet a Maker: Larry with Youth in Model Railroading

Guess who is coming back to Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest? Our fave, fantastic friend Larry and his crew with Youth in Model Railroading.

What do you do with your awesome self?

I am the founder of Youth in Model Railroading (YMR) I have been the leader for 23 years.

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

I started YMR in 1997 with my son to have a place for kids to do Model Railroading, we started it with no plans or ideas of what we were going to do.

What is one bit of information you wished you knew before you started?

I wish I knew more about Model Railroading and what kids wanted.

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

I’ve been doing YMR for 23 years, in the next 3, 5, 10 years I’m hoping we introduce more kids to the hobby across the country and keep their interest.

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

I wish I knew how to introduce Model Railroading to young people farther then the Denver/Front Range Area.

What part of STEAM Fest are you most excited for?

I’m excited that our members will be able to show there molding skills, run trains, teach kids how to build a simple tree and tell young people how much FUN Model Railroading can be.

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

Youth in Model Railroading will be setting up a large Multi Scale Train Layout, running HO, N and O gauge trains, with one section as a “hands on” layout, We will also have an area where the younger kids can build and “play” with trains and a “Make a Tree” make and take.

What’s the most amazing, unusual thing anyone has every told you about what you do?

I think the most amazing and craziest thing people tell me is, “You have been doing this for over 23 years? That’s amazing and Thank You!”

Whats your advice to young peeps interested in learning more about model railroading?

I would tell young people to follow their passion, get involved and have FUN, Having FUN is what it’s all about.

Visit Youth in Model Railroading at Rocky Mountain STEAMFest 2020 on March 7 + 8 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds >> BUY TICKETS

Volunteering with your kids: why you should sign-up today!

While it may be debated that humans are innately compassionate and generous, we choose to believe it to be true. At the same time, we are living in a time when it appears that empathy and kindness are the exception instead of the rule. To help counter the current culture along with the self-centered, egocentric developmental phases that are focused on “me, me, me,” volunteering can be a great tool in helping kids to focus on others. Volunteering will not only help them to build compassion, but it will help them build self-esteem as well as show them that they can make an important impact on the world around them even in small simple ways.

It’s also good for kids to volunteer in a multitude of ways because they learn different things from different opportunities.  Sometimes they learn the value of their time, sometimes it is empathy for those who are different from themselves, and sometimes it is about raising and providing funds that people and organizations need more than they need time. 

Simple ways kids can volunteer and make a difference:

  • Going to a local nursing home is a great way for kids to make a difference in a lonely person’s life. Kids who are shy or who don’t know how to make conversation can simply ask if someone wants to be read to or if they would like to play a game of cards.
  • Host a bake sale for a cause that is local and near to your child’s heart (be sure to check with your Chamber of Commerce to avoid any hassles with tax laws, etc…)
  • Write letters to soldiers who are away from home serving the U.S. Military through Operation Gratitude or Soldiers Angels.
  • If your child is into animals, then by all means find ways for them to get the shelters the many supplies they need. There are many cool ideas out there for making items that animals need out of unwanted used items.
  • Do a drive to collect things that many families might need this time of year including coats, gloves, warm boots, and drop them off at a local homeless shelter.
  • If you can find opportunities for kids to interact with the homeless or the poor, you will teach them to be compassionate and to understand that we are all connected and human–each of us needing love and generosity.
  • Convince your children to give away good quality toys that they no longer play with. 
  • Encourage your kids to volunteer every day at school without anyone knowing. Ask them to go play with someone at recess who always stands alone on the playground. Advise them to find a student who struggles in a subject they are good at and go help that person. Tell them to compliment a teacher. All of these things are simple, easy, and frankly, life-changing for both parties!

If you want to go even further, here are some organizations in Colorado that provide more formal and structured opportunities for kids to volunteer are:

Rocky Mountain STEAMFest – 11+. STEAM Fest is just around the corner (trust us, it’ll be here before you know it!). To pull off these daring feats of magic, creativity and imagination, we need over 150 awesome volunteers – and that could include you! You can help us hang posters, spread the word, recruit exhibitors – and so much more. Jobs include working from home with flexible hours – whatever you can do – from 4 hours to 40 – we’ve got the perfect fit for you.

Children’s Hospital – for ages 13-18 – This is a pretty intense volunteer program that is intended for kids who might be interested in the medical field.  They are required to turn in an application, be interviewed, and pass a health screening.

Volunteers of America – for ages 11-17 – According to the site, “Youth volunteers can work with children in Head Start schools, help the homeless, assist homebound seniors, and much more. Youth volunteers can work with children in Head Start schools, help the homeless, assist homebound seniors, and much more.”

Spark the Change Colorado – for all ages but steered towards elementary age children – The organization’s vision is to help kids develop an understanding of the importance of volunteerism and community engagement. At their sponsored events, there is a theme like Veterans, and then together, families, children, and the organization, develop and plan for “hands-on service learning projects that benefit local non-profit organizations.” Not only do kids help the community, but they get to problem-solve and ideate as well as develop leadership skills.

Also check out, Parent Magazine’s resource of nationwide organizations focused on helping families find opportunities to volunteer.  It is hard to find the time to volunteer and get your kids out to help others, but what you teach them will be priceless—JOY in serving others! 

Longmont Startup Week

A Great Place to Learn (and Maybe Find a Co-founder) for your startup

by Linz Craig

 

I made a widget and it’s pretty awesome. Next I have to make 100 more widgets and tell everyone how awesome they are.

 

I look back at that sentence and it almost sounds like I’m going around telling people that they themselves are awesome. In a way I am. At my startup, QuestBotics we believe that the more people who understand the technology in their life the better off the world will be decades and centuries from now. So we believe in people and the good of people. Who knows what that three year old will grow up to be? But with a little help we do know that she can take her first steps towards understanding programming and advanced mathematics today. We think it’s important that everyone tells her how awesome she is on that day.

 

On some days at QuestBotics we are buried up to our armpits in PCBs and electronics. On other days we get to tell that kid and the rest of the boys and girls at the workshop or event that they are officially robot programmers after using our bots. Kids don’t control a lot, but giving them the knowledge that they can control a robot opens up a door to a whole new reality and lifelong perspective. It’s pretty empowering. Their little eyeballs tend to pop out of their heads a little bit, in a good way.

Questbotics and boy

One of these people is a technology education startup founder

 

I wrote that first sentence about our widget in the comment section when I signed up for twenty minutes with an industry mentor at Longmont Startup Week just now. I’m at that weird point where our QuestBots are 99.99% done and now we’re wondering how many late nights we have to spend hunched over a soldering iron. I’m talking to people about proving traction and using fancy terms that I hope make me sound like I know what I’m doing, all while well aware of just how much work it will take to put together those first one hundred units.

 

The only thing that breaks with the stereotypical image I’m conjuring is that neither of us drink coffee. For the last year and a half I’ve work out of my house writing firmware while giving the occasional workshop to make ends meet and working a part time job keeping a testing and prototyping lab tidy. Sometimes they let me break stuff in a scientific manner and wave a soldering iron around like I know what I’m doing. They’re great people and they’ve been giving me advice about QuestBotics which has proved to be really useful. I started my part time job about six months after starting QuestBotics. And nine months previously I attended the first Longmont Startup Week, which was also my first big networking event as a solo entrepreneur. If you poke around there’s bound to be some sort of entrepreneurial near you as well. They are a wealth of information for people who want to start their own businesses.

 

Wide eyed and hopeful (but definitely not having a clue in the world what I was going to do) I tried to soak up as much information as I could. After returning from teaching in Africa for four months I had returned to Longmont and built three different prototypes, one of which I hoped to take to market. The people at the Startup Week were incredibly helpful. I signed up for mentor sessions then just as I do now. I explained to everyone where I was trying to go, listened to others explain their own visions and tried to remember as much of the advice as I could.

 

I met a multitude of people and thankfully continue to stay in touch with many of them. I distinctly remember an older gentleman ask me what in the world had happened to my cell phone on the roof of a Longmont brewhouse. (I had broken it in Uganda.) I still run into him occasionally at things like the local Smart City Initiative meetup. Some of the people I met at the first Longmont Startup Week have done more than stay in touch. There was one Peruvian gentleman I met that week who became my partner at QuestBotics. The other guy who doesn’t drink coffee on these late nights and early mornings.

questbotics at STEAM fest

Two years after meeting at Longmont Startup Week these guys are beta testing their first product

 

The QuestBots aren’t one of the three products that I talked about at that first Longmont Startup Week, but the point is that I learned a lot during that week. I’ve tried my hardest to put it all to use but I am well aware that I need a lot more guidance as I charge headlong into marketing and sales for my widget. I hope to see you at some of this year’s entrepreneurial education offerings if you live in Colorado. (If you live some where else here are some events for you to check out.) I’m looking forward to asking different questions, meeting new people, catching up with those I know and telling everyone how awesome they are.

 

Longmont Startup week is happening July 24-28 2017 in Longmont CO. Check out the schedule here.

SaveSave

SaveSave

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

Meet a Maker – Innovative Experiences and Andrew Donaldson

Robotics and Science and Fun… Oh My!

Meet amazing maker, Andy Donaldson and his exciting new STEAM Workshop and Camp company, Innovative Experiences.  Innovative Experiences provides STEAM Workshops that include robotics, science, engineering, arts, making and more!

Innovative Experience’s workshops for tween, teens, and adults with a variety of activities and costs to meet a variety of needs.  They offer everything from a couple hours to play with different materials and make something, up to a 4-day Robotics camp or the weekly Innovators Club. What makes IE different from other Maker spaces or STEAM workshops is that they provide unique, thought-provoking activities that allow you to explore all the possible solutions while also expanding your understanding of how things can work together.

What workshops are offered?

Atlanta, GA, USA - March 28, 2015: Kids attempt to drop bottle caps into a cup using a prosthetic arm and hooks, at a Georgia Tech prosthetics exhibit at the Atlanta Science Fair in Centennial Park in Atlanta.

Starting in September, these are the workshops that will be offered:

  • Roborobo Workshop: Wednesdays Sept 21 – October 26. 6 – 8 pm. We will use the Roborobo kits to build and program many different robots throughout the week.  Participants end with an activity that will requires them to use creativity to design, build and program a robot that isn’t part of the guided activities.
  • Innovators Club: Each week, participants decide to start or continue the previous project. Each project will focus on inventing or improving an existing technology.  Work happens individually and/or in groups to design and build something that hasn’t existed before.  Participants will be an integral part of the decisions made around the activities offered at Innovative Experiences.
  • Hourly workshops: Guided activities using a variety of resources and materials. Participants can take home most of what they make or just play with the materials. New activities will constantly be offered and are focused on Engineering, Arts and Science such as bridge building and other architectural projects, robotics, Little Bits, 3D printing and projection mapping, making ice cream with dry- ice and liquid nitrogen, pumpkin carving, winter activities, design a board game or invent something that solves a problem!

Innovative Experiences RoboRobo workshop.

What happens at the RoboRobo Workshop?

In the Roborobo workshop, participants start by building basic robots and learning basic construction and programming on the first day! The second day is for exploring other robots and practice programming them.  On the third day, challenges are added to make an existing robot do something new.  The last day consists of working in teams to design, build and program a unique robot that can accomplish a specific task such as go over obstacles, or destroy the opposing team’s castle with a projectile.  The best part is, you get to keep the robotics kit as part of the workshop and can practice building and playing at home between workshops. Parents are welcome and encouraged to join us to practice using the robots and share a new activity with your child. If you really enjoyed the workshop, don’t worry! The fun doesn’t stop there. With six levels of Roborobo kits to choose from, you can keep coming back for more fun activities and expand your robotics collection.

 

What makes Innovative Experiences different from a Maker space?

The goal of Innovative Experiences, says Donaldson, “is to provide experiences that inspire creativity, have real-world application and make learning fun.”

While many Maker spaces are great for exploring and learning, many teens are not aware of them or interested because there is no goal. IE will offer fun and inspirational activities to show teens how their knowledge can be applied in the real world. Finally, the costs of belonging to a Maker space and providing materials or attending similar camps/ workshops can be expensive. Innovative Experiences offers workshops in a safe atmosphere, at an affordable cost.

About Andy

Andy Donaldson has spent the better part of a decade working as an educator. His passions include working with students, finding creative ways to learn, and working with his hands. Recently, Andy noticed that the growth of the STEAM movement has targeted younger age groups and provided an opportunity that hasn’t really been fulfilled in secondary education.  That is the inspiration for Innovative Experiences.  To offer fun, affordable activities to inspire creativity and relate to real world knowledge. Andy is also involved with the XQ Bolder Super High School project.

Please visit the website for more information and like us on Facebook.

Upcoming events:

September 21 – October 26, 2016 – Beginner Robotics Workshop – Wednesdays from 6 – 8 pm.  At the Boulder Center for Conscious Community (BC3) 1637 28th Street, Boulder, CO 80301

www.myschoolportals.com

www.facebook.com/innovativeexperiences

gofund.me/innovex

title-5