Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire : a big success!

 Bringing a group of antsy middle school boys to the Cape Cod Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, really brought home the principles of Do It Yourself in a big way.

We set up a table for folks to solder a little Maker badge: 2 LEDs, a cell battery holder and a tie tack to hold it on. At the last minute, I threw in a MaKey MaKey kit and the 3 Doodler.

Turns out, our table was busier than we could handle and we ran out of material around 1 p.m.!
I wish I had brought three times as many badge kits and 3Doodler plastic as I did.

Granted, it was another rainy Saturday in a never-ending cold and clammy Spring that hasn't really happened and I think folks are tired of the same old winter routines. The Maker Faire was free, open to everyone and in a great space on the campus of Cape Cod Community College.

There was a wide range of exhibitors: 3-D printers, Martha's Vineyard High School's dump-diving go carts, Barnstable High School's great mapping application, Truro Library had a gardening table, there was a fantastic Steampunk invention group who demonstrated crazy gears, wheels, and assorted gizmos... It was a great mix of high and low tech.

Bottom line, we all got pretty revved up by what we saw and how much fun people had making their badges and name signs with us. Laura Sullivan and Amy Rusinak, parents and big supporters of the Makerspace initiative at the DFL, were invaluable in helping getting us down there and launched.

This week is our last PHILS meeting, so it is a bittersweet time for all of us.
Going on hiatus until summer while we bring the reference department's Digital Media Lab into existence!


Saturday, April 19, 2014

Arduino training presents a steep learning curve for us humanities majors!

With the DFL Children's Room recent purchase of ten
Sparkfun Inventor's Kits, a number of us boldly went where no DFL librarian had gone before: into the fascinating but brain-cramping world of Arduino:

Arduino is a tool for making computers that can sense and control more of the physical world than your desktop computer. It's an open-source physical computing platform based on a simple microcontroller board, and a development environment for writing software for the board.

Arduino can be used to develop interactive objects, taking inputs from a variety of switches or sensors, and controlling a variety of lights, motors, and other physical outputs. Arduino projects can be stand-alone, or they can communicate with software running on your computer .

Luckily, we had as our guide, Kevin Osborn, engineer and Arduino enthusiast. He led our merry band of librarians, trustees, patrons, and teachers, through the jungle of code, into the swamp of breadboards, out onto the arid plains of switches, buttons and blinking lights.  It was kind of perplexing, but as librarians, we are trained to conquer our fears, laugh in the face of logical complexity, and tame the errant and irrational.

I can't say that we arrived at the Promised Land of understanding and competence, but we are now able to tackle some of the projects and challenges in the Sparkfun guide book on our own.

We are hoping to build our competency and help library patrons construct some interesting interactive modules in the future.  More to come on this exciting new front!

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Rube Goldberg creativity

Our young teens have discovered Rube Goldberg!
Not only are his illustrations funny and timeless, but it is more challenging than it looks and I am convinced that learning how things work together mechanically is a big plus in the Maker World.
This kind of making doesn't have to cost much. You can pull found object from an amazing array of places. The 2 metal pulleys cost a total of $5 at our local hardware store in the clothesline section. We always need to put it all away so another program can use our room. That's where a screen really comes in handy.

Casey and Peter send a marble down to hit a whiffle ball which
drops the cup, sending the counter weight up the pulley.....
Here are some shots of our teens experimenting with pulleys, levers, chain reactions...

Check out the Rube Goldberg app you can purchase from your app store:

Robert and Stephen experiment with
a fan, a feather, and an inflatable globe....


Monday, April 7, 2014

Visit to the MakerBot Store

Sometimes it is hard to wrap your brain around a new technology until you see it in action. This weekend I had the opportunity to visit the new MakerBot store on Newbury Street in Boston, MA. If you have not had contact with a 3D printer yet, the MakerBot store offers you a convenient glimpse of multiple 3D printers/scanners in action with examples of a wide range of things to print. The store offers you opportunities to print your own designs or choose an already made design on Thingiverse for a fee. If you don't want to wait for something to print, it also has already made printed objects such as small 3D models of Fenway Park for purchase. For $5, one could obtain a Doctor Who Tardis out of a toy vending machine.  On display in the window were various printed Easter Eggs and rabbits with their attributed designers. Churches, garden gnomes, and even a large samurai bust were on display near each printer. I was amazed at how far the technology has come this year. The quality of the models and the detailing is getting better and better. There is even a giant scanner photobooth so you can print out a bust of yourself in 3 sizes.(I was tempted!).
The store is hard to miss with its HUGE windows.

Although I'm not sure if the store conveyed the multitude of useful functions 3D printers of the future will bring to everyone such as replacement machine parts, food, or even organs, it is nice to generate interest and spread the word about 3D printing in such a busy location. The store will be offer workshops this month for a fee on maintaining your 3D printer for adults or designing Mother's Day cards for kids. They also offer information on educational discounts for schools to acquire their own 3D printer. Next time you are in the Boston area be sure to check it out.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Creating the atmosphere of tinkering

Jessica helps Andrew trouble shoot his Larson Scanner
Tinkering is the goal of any Makerspace.

It's not enough to have people sign up for pre-planned projects. What we are striving to do is train patrons in skills, give them some experiences to draw from and then let them explore and discover how their own imaginations, skills they have developed and an appreciation for what is possible to build, construct, develop their own projects.

Groups are not herded into the same project. Choice is an important component.

On Tuesday, we came just a bit closer to the ideal of open tinkering....

Eli, Jackson, Peter, Martin and Stephen build their siege catapults

Robert explores the possibilities of our new 3Doodler to "draw" in 3 dimensions.

Andrew and Ben work on their Larson Scanners