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 >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]

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 >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]

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 >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]

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 >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]

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 >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]

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 >> [maxbutton id=”5″ ]

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

crossbeams, building, making, maker

Building Fun with Crossbeams

Crossbeams – Building Made Easy (and Fun!)

We caught up with Charles Sharman, creator of the most-excellent building toy, Crossbeams. His story is exactly what we’re all about at Maker Bolder – seeing an opportunity and making something to meet the need.  Here’s his story.

The Aim of Crossbeams

“Dad, can we make a maglev train?” This question, posed by my five-year-old son, sparked the beginning of Crossbeams.  Whether it’s a spaceship, a skyscraper, an animal, or a maglev train, all of us want to make and create.  It’s in our blood.  But when it comes to actually doing it, the task can be overwhelming.  You may have to know trigonometry, algebra, mechanics, thermodynamics, electronics, art, drafting, machining, and more.  I designed Crossbeams to simplify the building task.  You dream, and Crossbeams helps you create.

Many creative platforms exist for younger ages.  Yet many younger active creators become passive consumers as they age, immersed in video games, social media, smart phones, and television.  I designed Crossbeams to hold the interest of older and advanced creators.

Dreams to Reality

Making Crossbeams’ a reality wasn’t easy, particularly with a full-time job and family.  First, I had to enhance my knowledge. During late nights and early mornings, I taught myself mechanics, gear design, and machining.  I studied the limitations of current building systems and identified enhancements.  A plethora of piece-types limits some building systems.  According to Mark Changizi and others building system’s creativity is enhanced by minimizing piece-types an maximizing the ways pieces connect.  Delicacy limits some building systems.  I wanted a model car that could crash into the wall without disintegrating.  Finally, straight lines and boxiness limits some building systems.  I wanted to accurately replicate lines and surfaces.

Next, I needed a way to try out pieces in a complete model without blowing the bank on prototyping costs.  I wanted to ensure models
looked appealing and the piece-types were minimal.  I created the Crossbeams Modeller, a software tool to virtually connect Crossbeams pieces.
I started with three core models:

I believed a building toy that could closely replicate these models could closely replicate many more.  Initially, the models took more than 160 piece-types.  After much work, I narrowed it to the 47 piece-types used today.

crossbeams, engineering, maker, making, STEAM, boulder

Crossbeams can be assembled to support great weights and pressures.

Finally, I needed a sturdy joint that locks pieces much more strongly than the joints in children’s building toys.  Children’s building toys use friction-based joints; the force to connect is equal to the force to disconnect.  That causes an inherent trade-off.  If you make it stronger, you make it harder to assemble.  Instead, I based my joint on a cotter pin two-motion joint.  A two-motion joint unrelates the join force and separation force.  I started with a cotter pin, and it evolved into our patented, simple slide-and-twist joint.

The Future of Crossbeams

While Crossbeams has captured much of its original intent, we still have far to go.  Ages 10-12 and 20+ make our largest customer base. We haven’t captured the hearts of young adults, for whom the system was intended.

We designed Crossbeams from the ground up to handle electronics but later tabled electronics to maintain our debt-free principle.  Most of the electronics package is designed and ready.  Once sales grow, we can make my son’s maglev.

Success won’t be judged by money in the bank but by a sampling of society.  Whether it’s Crossbeams, musical compositions, stories, or painting, once young adults are known for their creating instead of their consuming, our work is done.

Meet a maker: Robots-4-U

Meet:
Liza Hubbell, Robots-4-U
I am a veteran educator who knows kids flourish when they engage in creative problem solving, design thinking and project-based inquiry.  I love coaching them through so they can find success in their own time and on their own terms.
What do you do?Hovercraft-ES1 (2)
I ‘teach’ kids how to build robots, but the truth is they figure it out for themselves; I just provide the materials and the support, and a dash of scientific principles thrown in.  Robots 4 U has multiple curricula, so we can capture the imagination of many…drones, art, robots and battle robots.
How did you get started in your field/with your project and why?
I am a trained Montessori elementary teacher, so no stranger t o learning and teaching all kinds of curriculum in a hands on way.  I joined Robots 4 U because the hands on, self paced approach is important to me–I know it works for kids, and gives them a sense of ownership that other approaches don’t deliver as fully.  Plus, robots are just super cool.
What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing anyone has ever done with or told you about your project?
I had a parent this fall tell me that our program was, “like Legos on steroids.”  So true!
What is yourBattleBot-ES1 (2) favorite part about the STEM education movement?
I think it’s wonderful for kids to weave the connections between subjects and get them excited about acquiring solid skills and engaging in the investigation process.  Imagination and problem solving are at the heart of STEM/STEAM ed and it’s particularly great when girls realize that they are very capable and STEM is not ‘just for boys.’
Where do you see your making/projects going in the next 3 to 5 years?
I am excited about drones and nano tech as areas that we’ll investigate more fully on a mass culture scale, and more immediately, Robots 4 U will launch Drone School this summer!
What do you wish you knew how to do but don’t know how to (yet)?
about a zillion things, but in our open source world, I feel like I can find out!  It’s great to be connected to the Maker movement because it’s so diverse, and I learn something new all the time!
Bonus question: Who would you like to see answer these questions?
Everyone in the known universe who might be interested in these answers….Fox Mulder if he were real, as I’ve had a crush on him for 20 years…I don’t know.
Meet Liza in person, and play with some robots, April 30 and May 1 at Rocky Mountain STEAMFest!MotherBoard-ES1 (2)

Meet a maker: Boulder Modern Quilt Guild

Boulder Modern Quilt Guild is a group of 25 or so people who love to make things out of fabric, specifically quilts using the modern aesthetic (not your Grandmother’s quilts).  We have lots of activities including meetings with lectures, all day sewing sessions, show and tell, retreats, social events and projects for charity.  We welcome visitors and new members regardless of experience and style (even your Grandmother).  We teach others and share lots of information.  We particularly want to get young people involved in quilt making to carry on tradition in a modern way.  We are a chapter of the international Modern Quilt Guild.  Our current President is Cynthia Morgan.  See our webpage at http://www.bouldermodernquiltguild.com

What do you do?

The Art and Craft of Quilting!

How did you get started in your field/with your project and why?

We love spreading the word about the fun of modern quilt making and sharing our knowledge.

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

Our charity quilts are appreciated for the comfort and good cheer they provide to the recipients

What is your favorite part about the STEM education movement?

Involving kids, especially girls, and getting them inspired to dream big

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

We always have a yearlong charity quilt project….this year we are working with TRU Care Hospice and Children’s Hospital.

Meet the fun friends with the Boulder Modern Quilt Guild during Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest April 30 + May 1 at the Boulder County Fairgrounds.