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.

Meet a Maker: Alicia Gibb with Lunchbox Electronics

meet a maker element

I’m Alicia Gibb, CEO,Alicia.Gibb_ Lunchbox Electronics: lunchboxelectronics.com. I’m a woman-owned company, I taught myself electronics at NYCResistor, a hackerspace in Brooklyn, and now live in Boulder, creating the thing I’ve always wanted: Light-up bricks to build with, because yes, I still play with Legos. I just launched my first Kickstarter for said light up bricks.

What do you make?

Currently I’m making Build Upons for my Kickstarter. Build Upons are awesomely tiny light up bricks that are compatible with LEGO® bricks! Think Lego, but now with more geek.

Light up your robot, house, spaceship, or monster! The Build Upons system has three types of bricks: an LED brick, agibba power brick, and a bridge brick. Light the LED bricks by connecting them to a Power Brick – you can design pathways with as many Bridge Bricks as you need for ultimate flexibility. Build Upons LED bricks are based on 1×1 bricks to create elegant designs. You don’t need to know electronics to use these bricks, you simply build, just like you’ve always done!

This is the latest in STEAM products that will be ready in time for the holidays! Build Upons are a great gift idea for the kids in your life, including that kid that never grew up.

How did you get started making and why?

Like most people, I started before I can remember, and have always continued through my life.

agibb2What’s the most amazing, unusual (craziest) thing you’ve ever made?

I used to make a lot of what I call Cake Hacks, lighting up cakes, putting music in cakes, or making them wiggle around with motors.

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

My advice is that you should always look at things from all angles and especially underneath. The best part about hardware hacking is learning how to break things and put them back together. Don’t be afraid to be a hacker and use things for their unintended purpose!

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

Definitely into the future! Continuing to make science fiction science fact.

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

I don’t yet know how to make dissolvable support material for my Lulzbot, but I’m thinking soap or Plasticine might be an interesting start.

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

Solid State Depot

Summer camps at Friends’ School

Awesome Inventions!

Invent a new toy, solve a problem, build a machine!  Join us for a fun week of inventing, building and laughter.

Join us for a fun week filled with stories, inventing, problem solving and prototyping as we help each child invent something new!  The kids will be inspired to imagine the amazing and encouraged to build their invention from a wealth of prototyping materials.  Who are you building it for? What does it do? Can people buy it?  We will invent toys, games, machines, rockets, robots and more!  Let your imagination explode!

7/20/2015 – 7/23/2015 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Intro to Making!

Come and explore the world of Making!  Play with Robots, Electronics, and more.

Join our adventure and learn new.  We will use tools to take electronics apart, explore new technologies, and build new things.

Come be inspired to fuel your inner Maker.  Learn about local people making cool things from art to robots, electronics and 3D Printers.  Build things, break things, fix things and make new things!

6/29/2015 –  7/2/2015 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

7/6/2015 – 7/9/2015 9:00 AM-12:00 PM

Friends’ School
5465 Pennsylvania Avenue
Boulder, CO 80303

Computer Science Education Week Kickoff, Dec 8!

Design an app, program a robot, learn computer thinking outside the box and more at Computer Science Education Week in Boulder, CO, Monday, December 8 – Saturday the 13th! Best yet, swing by Boulder co-working and tech connection juggernaut Galvanize on Monday for a kickoff with Maker Boulder, co-sponsored by local startup 911 Labs Inc (which does development and operations for early startups). We’ll be running a radical computer scavenger hunt, all ages welcome.

“Computers are a part of everything these days. Not only in obvious places like laptops and phones, but in thermostats, traffic lights, and washing machines,” says Daniel Zacek, CEO of 911 Labs says. “Our display will show examples of how computer science is involved in everything from farming to flying, and include a scavenger hunt for computer science in and around Galvanize.”

You’re reading this on a computer. You depend on the computers in your car to transport you to places where you can buy food sources like kale and Slurpees. Computers are shaping the very folds of your grey matter in ways we’re just now starting to understand. Don’t you think it’d be kinda good to know just a little bit about how these computers work? Here’s your chance to get edumacated without the terribly painful process of actually studying.

“We are working together to inspire the next generation of coders, makers, and innovators to think about how computing is part of their lives today, and their future through a groundbreaking and town-wide week of programs,” says Galvanize.

Come on down to Computer Science Education Week events next week and have a good time! Full list of events at www.csed.co. (And while you’re at it, if you want to stay up to date with Maker-ish events and news in Boulder, please consider following us on Facebook!)

Kitables Kickstarts Automatic Rubik’s Cube Solver


The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that without the addition of work, the entropy of a system will increase. In other words, left alone a system becomes more disordered: molecules disperse, heat homogenizes, and if you drop a Rubik’s Cube, it ain’t real likely to solve itself. Instead, random processes applied to this best selling toy of all time tend to increase its disorder. Of the 350 million Rubik’s Cubes sold to date, how many do you think are sitting at the bottom of the toy box or even on the kitchen counter, unsolved? According to this lovely 2nd Law, the correct answer is lots.

The Boulder startup Kitables is out to change that. Currently being Kickstarted is its snap-together kit that in conjunction with a little Arduino board allows you and yours to put a Rubik’s Cube in a slot and watch the automatic arm solve the puzzle for you. They call it “every nerd’s dream machine.” And I don’t know about you, but the idea will definitely keep us here at Maker Boulder up at night.

The company is the brainchild of Arieann DeFazio, research scientist at CU Boulder using x-ray crystallography to study Alzheimer’s disease.

“I always had it in my head to create the perfect job, somewhere I could have a business and do science too,” says Arieann, escapee from a biomedical sciences PhD program in Florida. “After five or six years of searching and not finding it, I finally decided to make it myself.”

Arieann was surfing Instructables.com when she realized, “Here are all these great ideas, but nobody’s got the parts!” When she looked deeper, Arieann says she found that most existing DIY kits were just electronics or just mechanics or just science kits, “Most of what you get from Radioshack, is you do like five steps and you have a robot,” she says.

Arieann’s goal was to combine mediums to create a fully integrated home science experience. Working at CU and with another Boulder startup, Arieann started formatting her kits on the side. Eventually she hopes to have Kitables kits across STEM fields.

For now, there’s the Rubik’s solver. God’s Algorithm already existed for the Cube — the optimal path of action from any given state to the solution state. Arieann brought a friend with mechanical engineering experience into the business to work the machine side. And they’re hoping that Kickstarter will help take care of the business side.

“We have two Kickstarter goals,” she says. “The first is to make sure people actually want this thing. And the second is to provide a little seed funding, or I guess it would be micro-seed funding.”

Here’s a little editorial: as awesome as the solver most certainly is, you gotta visit the Kickstarter for the video’s comedic genius, which taps into the place within us all that knows what it’s like to obsess over Rubik’s. Be warned: the soundtrack for the solver video will make you want to get your Kojak on.

Consider this: by pledging for Kitables you can do you part to fight entropy and bring just a little more order into the world. Let this forever be known as the day that entropy was beaten back from the gate!