MIDAS Lab clean tech projects highlighted by CEBC conference

At Clean Energy BC June 4 – 5, MIDAS Lab promoted the potential of Clean Tech through the various projects, innovations, and businesses that come through our doors.

This past week saw our enthusiastic MIDAS Lab team participate in the Clean Energy BC (CEBC) Conference in Trail, BC.

For a first conference outside of the lower mainland, the event provided an exceptional opportunity to highlight Trail and the Kootenays’ unique legacy of engineering excellence and how it impacts innovation in the region’s tech and innovation sectors.

The voice of BC’s clean energy industry for over 25 years, the CEBC supports BC’s transition to low-carbon energy through the development of effective climate policy and clean energy electrification. 

The purpose of CEBC is to promote and support the growth and advancement of British Columbia’s clean energy industry and assist in the growth of manufacturing, supply, and service industries in BC, serving clean energy production in the province and around the world.

MIDAS Fab Lab: Leading Edge of Local Innovation

Our participation at the BC Clean Energy Conference offered MIDAS Lab the chance to showcase technologies with enormous Clean Tech potential – 3D scanning 3D printing with carbon fibre. It was also a great way to highlight the possibilities available here at MIDAS Lab as we connected and networked with local organizations and individuals from around the province.

A particular highlight at the event was listening to MIDAS instructor Jason Taylor speak about “Building the Clean Economy: Job opportunities with CleanBC”.

A specialist in digital fabrication, rapid prototyping, and advanced manufacturing, as well as an Instructor and Researcher at Selkirk College, Jason encouraged attendees to consider education and training and how we think about fulfilling the ever-changing demands of the modern economy.

He stressed the need for “new educators” – the way we learn continues to change with the advancement of new technologies such as AI and VR and increasing automation.

To address the influence of expanding technology across sectors, Jason advocates guiding students through the various options and ways of learning, including co-op programs where students work in their chosen industry in order to not only enhance their learning but to provide valuable work experience as well.

Jason advocates strongly for providing Makerspaces – collaborative and hands-on workplaces – in schools. He is a big believer in embracing failure and “breaking things” to encourage in order to understand how things work and move forward.

To bring this point home for attendees and help promote the value and potential that a Makerspace offers, over the course of the event, we provided in-depth tours of the entire MIDAS Lab to nearly 60 curious individuals.

BC Clean Energy Event MIDAS

Building strong relationships with all levels of government, BC Hydro, First Nations, environmental organizations, and the public to improve the sector’s social license is fundamental to the mission of the CEBC. 

Clean Tech at the MIDAS Lab

The MIDAS Lab (and more generally KAST – Kootenay Association for Science and Technology) has been promoting Clean Tech through our support of innovative local companies. Fostering relationships and partnerships allow this Fabrication Lab to provide state-of-the-art equipment, resources, programs, and expertise to businesses big and small to help advance their Clean Energy and Technology objectives.

MIDAS Lab welcomes companies developing ideas and innovations that include Clean Energy and Clean Tech. It’s not unusual for businesses to leverage MIDAS Lab commercial memberships to engage in vital research and development, rapid prototyping, and advanced manufacturing.

Austin Engineering (Environmental Engineers with focus on Hydro Electricity) and Advanced Biocarbon – ABC3D (Bioplastics from wood) are two such companies.

We are looking to expand our partnerships with Eco Societies and businesses innovating projects to grow and enhance Clean Energy and Technology in this region!

At the MIDAS Lab, you can take action to address big problems like climate change. Take a course to learn how to use the most advanced tools to make your idea into a reality today. Work in the clean energy sector. Start your own business like ABC3D. Don’t just sit on the sidelines as the world falls apart Contact us!


#madeatMIDAS: Public Annual Member, Marc Desrosiers

Tracy Connery Photography - MadeatMIDAS public membership

A Public Annual Membership offers you all the benefits that MIDAS has to offer – access to the MIT-certified Fab Lab, over $430,000 of the best fabrication equipment and industry-leading expertise that opens emerging technology training to anyone.

It’s important, when you think of the MIDAS Fabrication Lab, that you remember that it’s not just all about engineers, advanced fabrication, and tech startups. While all are more than welcome, of course, MIDAS is also about our valued public members, like Marc Desrosiers, above.

Marc became aware of the MIDAS Fab Lab through a local advertisement. As he was in the middle of problem-solving how he might fix a significantly cracked live edge slab table, his curiosity was piqued that MIDAS might hold the answer.

Tracy Connery Photography - MadeatMIDAS

His first course, the Speedy 400-120 Watt Laser Cutter opened the doors to an abundance of learning and project opportunities, Marc didn’t have easily available before. Knowledge and experience on the laser cutter allowed the aspiring carpenter to cut a variety of joints and inlays, such as bow ties, dog bones, half-moons, and donuts.

The laser cutter simplified Marc’s finishing work significantly. He was able to experiment with different shapes and avoid the onerous task of chiseling as well as making a multitude of mistakes regarding the proper shape and fit.

Tracy Connery Photography - MadeatMIDAS Public Memberships

The process was, not surprisingly, remarkably efficient. It was faster, exact, cost-effective and zero-waste as Marc was able to cut multiple shapes from one piece of material.

 

MadeatMIDAS Public Annual MembershipExcited about his progress and ready to learn more, he signed up for the Shopbot CNC course. In his words, his experience in the training was, “Fantastic! Stellar!”

Marc was impressed with the support, knowledge, and expertise of the MIDAS team. In fact, as he says, with the help of the talented staff, he “hasn’t come across a problem that couldn’t be solved”.

Marc recommends MIDAS for anyone with an idea or project. “For anyone who doesn’t have the tools or space, come in and make use of all the great equipment, tools, space, and support.”

Just a few of the projects Marc has on the go with the help of the MIDAS Fab Lab are: a guitar-shaped table, a variety of cutting boards, a resin-filled end table, and an ambitious farmhouse dining table.

If you’re interested in learning more about the MIDAS Public Annual Membership, you can take advantage of our weekly tours every Thursday from 6:00 – 7:00 PM. Or feel free to Contact Us to find out more information about how MIDAS can help you realize your great idea or innovation.

Read more about the MIDAS Public Annual Membership.

Public Annual Membership Includes:

  • Fab Lab Access – We offer 18 hours per week for public members to utilize the space. Need more hours? MIDAS Commercial Membership might be right for you.
  • Space to Prototype – our facility is flexible to accommodate small and growing ideas. Access tools and space in our 6500 sqft facility.
  • Learning Centre – Learn 2d and 3d design software on our Windows 10 workstations. Our computers are fully loaded with modern design, engineering and CNC software packages.
  • High speed “Fibre Broadband” – wireless internet access throughout our facility ensures you are connected globally to your clients and audience.
  • Advice to grow – have a business idea? Tap into the Kootenay Association for Science and Technology’s business services and find complementing programs for your business. Get business guidance from professionals, including: business coaching/consulting, and assistance in obtaining funding to take your product to market.
  • Prototype Materials – get your project started and keep material costs under control. Buy what you need, when you need it, in the quantity that fits your budget with basic materials on site.
  • Cutting Edge Equipment – MIDAS has invested over $400,000 into the most critical rapid prototyping and digital manufacturing equipment.

A MIDAS Commercial Membership: Energize Your Business through Innovation and Rapid Prototyping

MIDAS Fab Lab Commercial Membership benefits

If you’re business is looking to innovate and create in order to boost the bottom line, look no further than a Commercial Membership here at MIDAS!

MIDAS membership services are open to regional companies, including start-ups, with a focus on supporting prototype and product commercialization. We provide all the modern technology your business needs to develop fast-iteration, short-run prototypes.

While the MIDAS Fab Lab is not intended for high volume production runs, we pride ourselves on offering the modern technology tools you cannot access anywhere else in the region – we’re here to help your business grow and innovate!

With over $430,000 of the best digital fabrication equipment, our industry-leading expertise gives you peace of mind.

Win – Win – Win

  • Embrace new technology – get ahead of your competition
  • Get customized training
  • Prototype development at any stage
  • Bring your product to market faster!

Commercial Membership benefits include:

  • Time to Prototype – coordinate your schedule with MIDAS and utilize the space on the days and times suited to your needs – at every stage of your business growth.
  • Prototype consulting – from customized training to side-by-side prototype development to contracted fabrication services.
  • Space to Expand – starting or expanding your business is expensive. Scale without scaling by using our 6500 sqft facility to expand without increasing your footprint.
  • Learning Centre – Need a space for design work, team meetings or events? Utilize our 1000 sqft Learning Centre setup with fibre broadband internet and Windows 10 workstations. Our computers are fully loaded with modern 2d and 3d design, engineering and CNC software packages for use by your company.
  • High speed “Fibre Broadband” – wireless internet access throughout our facility ensures you are connected globally to your clients and audience.

#madeatMIDAS: Regional examples of cutting edge innovations created here at MIDAS

Our equipment along with our expert team have helped several regional companies innovate and prototype to take their businesses to the next level. Read about these recent journeys in MIDAS innovation.

MIDAS Fab Lab Commercial Membership process and benefits

If you’re interested in more information regarding our Commercial Memberships, please click HERE for all the details, including payment, package, and investment info.

Are you an individual looking to explore the possibilities available at MIDAS? See our course calendar HERE. Check out what our Public Services might be able to do for you!

WEEKLY TOURS THURSDAYS FROM 6-7 PM

#madeatMIDAS: Pulse Labs Inc. ProFlex

Pulse Labs Pulse Proflex Kickstarter

Revelstoke’s Pulse Labs Inc. is serious about getting the right fit – and flex! – in a ski boot!

If you’ve recently been sizing ski boots, chances are you’ve encountered some unreliability when it comes to flex rating, even in boots of the same brand.

Enter Pulse Labs Inc.

With their extensive expertise and new and innovative boot fitting system they’ve come up with the answer to the flex issue with a convenient and effective aftermarket accessory: The Pulse ProFlex. Developed and prototyped with the help of the MIDAS Fab Lab!

The flex in a ski boot refers to how difficult it is to flex the boot forward. Boot flex ranges from very soft to a stiffness required for racing, indicated by a numeric “flex index” typically from 50 (soft) to 130 (very stiff). Frustratingly, for skiers of all skill levels, this number is rather arbitrary and a 100 flex rating, for example, can vary from boot to boot, even from the same manufacturer.

Check out the Pulse ProFlex Kickstarter>>

The Pulse ProFlex is a ski boot insert created specifically to stiffen almost any two-piece ski boot by 15 to 30 per cent. It’s been made to be easy to install without altering or compromising the fit of the boot.

Current bootmakers prioritize features and convenience – walk modes, tech fittings, thinner walls and lightweight plastics – over stiffness and performance. Innovator and partner in Pulse Boot Lab & Ski Co., Kai Palkeinen, was looking for more. Understanding that serious skiers have been left wanting, he saw the need for a reliable, aftermarket solution that had the power to amp up the flex and, ultimately, the performance of any ski boot.

So the ProFlex was born. With the help of our team at MIDAS!

Beginning over a year ago, the team at MIDAS, specifically Lab Director, Brad Pommen, assisted in scanning the prototype and producing 3D models to help identify the size, shape, and positioning of what would become the ProFlex. Through several iterations and many communications between Pulse Labs’ Matt Moor and Brad, fundamental challenges were identified.

MIDAS provided the opportunities and resources for learning!

The learning process not only helped refine the design and drawings that would be sent on to the engineers, but the experience also helped to answer the important question: which manufacturing process would provide the best product?

For instance, after delving deep into carbon fibre, vacuum moulding and even 3D printing at MIDAS it was established that none of these would provide the necessary rigidity or rebound for an effective insert. To achieve what the company needed, injection molds were found to be the way to go.

Through MIDAS, Kai explained, “We went from knowing nothing to gaining a far better understanding.”

Kai learned how “complicated, difficult, and expensive, not to mention arduous the manufacturing process is”. MIDAS and the Fab Lab team helped alleviate some of this stress and hard work, facilitating rapid prototyping, exploration, experimentation, and tweaking, in a fraction of the time and expense that it would have taken otherwise.

“Without MIDAS we may not have made it to the end result.”

Looking for additional stiffness and performance in your ski boots or those of a skier you love? Be sure to get the Pulse ProFlex – support the Kickstarter Campaign>>

Just in time for Christmas!

Curious about all that’s available – and possible! – at MIDAS? Join us for a tour: Thursdays at 6pm!

 

 

A Great Combination: Trail Smoke Eaters and MIDAS!

Tracy Connery Photography - MadeatMIDAS Trail Smoke Eaters

We support our local Smoke Eaters! Hockey and makers go together like glue on wood, a solder iron on metal, skates on ice!

As a proud supporter of the Trail Smoke Eaters Hockey team, KAST has donated 10 MIDAS Fab Lab gift certificates. Lucky winners receive a choice of Laser Cutter or 3D Printer Course, where they can learn, be inspired, and enjoy the opportunity to work with the best in the biz – the MIDAS Fab Lab team!

So, check out the game schedule and make sure you come on out and enjoy a fun-filled, action-packed hockey night andhave a chance to win some wonderful prizes!

If you’d like to know more about the possibilities – so many! – available here at MIDAS, please click HERE.

Still curious? Join us for our MIDAS Public Tours, every Thursday evening at 6:00 pm.

Check out the range of courses and training on offer at MIDAS (2019 schedule currently in the works – lots to come!)

Go Smoke Eaters!

#madeatMIDAS: Advanced BioCarbon 3D (ABC3D)

Advanced BioCarbon 3D #madeatMIDAS

Advanced BioCarbon 3D, #madeatMIDAS Corporate Member and co-locator here at MIDAS marries environmental sustainability and innovation with their carbon negative bioplastics.

We are very proud of the accomplishments achieved by the growing list of Corporate Members. It’s inspiring to see each of them fulfilling their innovation and business aspirations with the help of the range of resources available in our MIT-certified Fab Lab.

A fruitful partnership we’ve excitedly been witness to between ABC3D and Selkirk College Applied Research Innovation Centre and recipients of a research grant through the SMARTS Program. SMARTS engages in research resulting in the development of innovative products or services, with the goal of expanding the offerings that local businesses can bring to market.

Earlier this year, Rossland’s Darrel Fry, CEO of Advanced BioCarbon 3D, and Jason Taylor of Selkirk College were awarded $300,000 through the Innovate BC Ignite Program to develop a new type of 3D-printing filament. The research project is focused on creating a new 3D printing filament to address the pressing issue of excessive plastics in 3D printing and manufacturing.

The $300,000 awarded to the project has allowed ABC3D to buy equipment and bring on employees integral to the continuing research and development.

The filament is made from 100% biodegradable, engineering grade plastics and carbon fibre derived from lignin, the natural glue-like fibres found inside of wood.

#MadeatMIDAS_Advance BioCarbon 3D

Well beyond plastic: carbon fibre. Engineering grade AND biodegradable.

ABC3D is an advanced materials company specializing in bi0degradable plastics and carbon fibres and has taken up residence in the MIDAS Fab Lab to expand its research, development, and production.

Looking to come up with a solution for the over-abundance of plastics used, and inevitably, polluting the earth on such an incredible scale, Advanced BioCarbon 3D creates a product that is, remarkably, engineering grade and 100% biodegradable.

Safe for people, animals, and nature, the ABC3D plastics and carbon fibre are created using a closed loop system with no waste. The innovative startup’s beachhead into the industry is biodegradable filaments, in production at MIDAS, extracting resins from wood and mixing them with other polymers to make plastic.

#MadeatMIDAS_Advance BioCarbon 3D

The goal of the business is all at once ambitious and noble. According to Mr. Fry, “We’ve been coming it at it through demand management, trying to promote less use, re-use, recycling and the like. As we all know of course trying to plug the pipe at the end never truly works. Moving to a supply management where rather than using less plastic we aim to use better plastic would seem to be a better route.”

While ABC3D is producing products in the 3D printing filament market, with their engineered grade quality bioplastics, previously unavailable, the company is seeing the huge potential to impact other markets. Specifically, Fry has his eye fixed on carbon fibre filaments to be used in industries such as automotive, airline, solar energy, housebuilding, batteries, and more.

“I don’t see how we can continue down the path of conventional plastics,” said Fry. “The planet can no longer sustain the amount of plastic being put into the oceans and across our landscape, nor can it sustain the carbon emissions from petroleum products. Everyone knows we need to take action.

“Nature has been making (natural plastic) for three billion years, and disposing of it for three billion years. Nature already has in place the bacteria and decomposition team it needs to break down plastic that is made from wood.”

Employee Ian, developing skills and getting the valuable training he needs to further his own professional development with the help of Advanced BioCarbon 3D.ABC3D has taken advantage of other funding opportunities to help develop his innovative products. Through the NRC Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) Youth Employment Program (YEP) and Youth-Green Program, on behalf of the Government of Canada’s Youth Employment Strategy (YES), the company has hired Ian, who is learning the R and D ropes; developing skills and getting the valuable training he needs to further his own professional development with the help of Advanced BioCarbon 3D.

Fry’s route to sustainability has begun with a blended 3D filament containing 40% of their proprietary wood product and 60% conventional plastic. The goal: subsequent iterations that lead to a truly environmentally sustainable 100% wood bioplastic.

#madeatMIDAS #metaltechalley

Listen to the rest of this amazing story HERE.

Ultimate DIY Halloween Costume: Rolloween Project

DIYers create one-of-a-kind Halloween costume for 10-year-old in a wheelchair

Rolloween: Inspiring Montreal makers step up to create the ultimate Halloween costume making one boy happier than ever to trick or treat!

The Maker Movement embraces just about any challenge and looks for the best DIY way to shake things up and overcome it. In this case, a group of eager makers stepped in to produce Chad, an exciting, remarkably real not to mention practical Halloween costume solution for young Émile.

Unlike years past when Émile, born with a disability that requires him to use a wheelchair, has found Halloween to be a particularly challenging celebration, thanks to a group of Montréal makers this year he will have THE ultimate in Halloween costumes for himself as well as his wheelchair.

Having pulled together imagination, creativity, serious maker skills, as well as generosity and commitment, this group of makers created a dragon in his castle, or, simply, Chad.

Beyond Magic: A Dragon Comes to Life

Halloween costumes are not designed for children to wear sitting down and for those people requiring an assisted mobility device, getting around towns and cities is not easy even at the best of times, let alone at night, dressed in costume.


Inspired to create a fun, festive, and practical costume for Émile, the maker group collected all the necessary materials to create Chad: polystyrene for the castle to surround the wheelchair, thermoplastic to form the dragon head, silk and green polylactic acid (PLA) filament to 3D print the dragon scales, an umbrella to build the wings, foam to build parts of the costume and a set of Hallowing — programmable eyes for the dragon.

Coming together every two weeks in the months ahead of October 31st, the group spent their weekends hard at work in the garage of a member of Duct Tapers Anonymous. Other meetings took place at Milieux Make — the Milieux Institute for Arts Culture and Technology makerspace.

As the costume came together, Émile visited the garage for fittings.

This Halloween, thanks to the ingenuity and skills of this dedicaged groupe of people, Émile will BE Chad the Dragon. He will also show off the amazing creation during the Montréal Maker Faire, produced by Concordia University on Nov. 16-17.

Rolloween Project

Magic Wheelchair is a non-profit organization “that builds epic costumes for kiddos in wheelchairs — at no cost to families.” The organization started with Ryan Weimer whose son was born with spinal muscular dystrophy. When his son wanted to be a pirate for Halloween, Ryan decided to turn his wheelchair into a pirate ship.

Following the inspiration of Magic Wheelchair, Concordia University’s Education Makers and Montréal’s Duct Tapers Anonymous decided to get together to build a wheelchair Halloween costume. Education Makers had experimented with 3D printing dragon scales on fabric and with thermoplastic. Duct Tapers Anonymous offered up a wealth of know-how ranging from handymen, engineers, sculptors and seamstresses.

This project is exactly what Maker Culture is all about – seeing a challenge and turning it on its head! Disrupting how things might conventionally be done. The Rolloween project is a perfect example.

A boy who simply wanted to be a dragon for Halloween helped spur much-needed change in Halloween costume design, encouraging inclusiveness and respect for differences in the tradition of Halloween.

SMARTS Program: Selkirk SME Applied Research and Technology Solutions

SME Applied Research & Technology Solutions (SMARTS) Program

The SMARTS Program: Connecting small- and medium-sized businesses with research expertise in the fields of geospatial technology and digital fabrication. 

It’s those companies that invite innovation and embrace technology that are leading today’s competitive economy.

Selkirk College, a hidden academic gem here in the West Kootenay steps in to help, offering specific and much-needed applied research support to help businesses develop new or improved products and services.

The SMARTS program builds on the Adopting Digital Technologies program, a success story featured by the National Research Council, which provided small- and medium-sized businesses with direct support, technical training, and advisory services aimed at increasing productivity through the use of digital technologies.

Support for Development of Products and Services

The SMARTS program aims to engage in research that results in the development of innovative products or services, expanding the offerings, that local businesses can bring to market.

Businesses may be eligible for the SMARTS program if they:

  • Have less than 500 employees
  • Are growth-oriented
  • Are located in Canada

Selkirk College knows that research and development partnerships that involve marketable products or services require strict confidentiality. Businesses can rest assured that the College maintains confidentiality protocols to protect the interests of both the business and the College. Selkirk College also understands the need to complete work in ‘business time’ and will work with business to move the idea to action efficiently and effectively.

Do you have a project idea that you want to explore with the SMARTS team? Want to discuss your expertise and funding needs? Find out more!

A Sample of R&D Services

Geospatial Technologies

WEB MAPPING
– Developing custom mapping platforms for data sharing and communications

3D VISUALIZATIONS
– Generating static and dynamic visualisations of 3D geospatial data – Developing augmented reality and virtual reality applications

REMOTE SENSING
– Collecting data via UAV
– Testing sensors
– Analysing remotely sensed data from UAV or satellite – Developing workflows and algorithms

SPATIAL MODELING
– Modeling landscape impacts of environmental change

APP DEVELOPMENT AND CUSTOMIZATION
– Building customized mobile tools for geospatial data collection and sharing – Researching and testing technology options

Digital Fabrication

RAPID PROTOTYPING
– Producing prototypes
– Researching and testing prototype designs and materials

3D MODELING
– Scanning 3D objects for reproduction
– Generating 3D models for analysis and production

ADVANCED MANUFACTURING PROCESS OPTIMIZATION
– Building custom digital fabrication equipment
– Improving productivity with new workflows and equipment configurations

Funding Available for a Limited Time

The SMARTS program runs until March 2019 and is supported by the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP). As a result of this support, funding is available to cover the majority of the research costs associated with approved projects. The company also contributes a portion of project expenses.

Do you have a project idea that you want to explore with the SMARTS team? Want to discuss your expertise and funding needs? Find out more!

3D Design & Printing with TinkerCad | September 7, 2018

3D Design & Printing with TinkerCad

From mind to design in minutes

Tinkercad is a free online collection of software tools that help people all over the world think, create and make. It’s the ideal introduction to Autodesk, the leader in 3D design, engineering and entertainment software.

You don’t need to know CAD to make and print awesome 3D models

Tinkercad is the largest community of 3D design and 3D printing enthusiasts of its kind!

Free, easy-to-use app for 3D design, electronics, and coding. It’s used by teachers, kids, hobbyists, and designers to imagine, design, and make anything!

Tinkercad is an easy, browser-based 3D design and modelling tool allowing users to imagine anything and then design it in minutes.

This course will give starting tools and tips in 3D Design with TinkerCad from Autodesk, a powerful but intuitive to learn design program.

You’ll also learn how to 3D Print these designs in this dual class! You’ll be printing your design on the Ultimaker 2 3D printer. It’s easy and reliable, designed for the best experience in 3D printing.   Engineered to perform, this 3D digital printing workhorse is efficient and super user-friendly; particularly useful for artists, engineers, makers and innovators looking for fast, high-quality prints in just about any size or material.

REGISTER NOW!

Maker Movement Inspiring Young Innovators With EdTech Toys

Maker movement inspiring young innovators with EdTech Toys

Constructible rides by Infento offer a new twist on toys.

In this era of intense technology consumption, particularly among young people, there’s all manner of conversation going on – at home, in schools, at the workplace – about how to manage it in the name of establishing healthy balance.

Forward-thinking companies are seeing ways to address the issues surrounding young people and technology and seeing another avenue that doesn’t so much limit technology as leverage it, in the form of EdTech toys, that serve to bring the maker spirit and innovation to how young people engage with tech.  End game: inspiring a new generation of makers and innovators, where toys teach the skill sets needed to create rather than simply consume modern technology.

EdTech Toys Engage Children, Inspire Maker Spirit: Innovation, Imagination, Creativity

Makers are teachers, entrepreneurs, professionals, students, DIY hobbyists or simply tinkerers in their own garage.  What unites all of these individuals is the maker spirit – a fascination with creating, often utilizing various means of technology.

The Maker Movement maintains that we are all makers.  Particularly given that today, almost half of all Canadians identify as being part of the maker community, regardless age or gender.

When you consider the focus that STEM/STEAM education has recently taken this number should come as no surprise.  Schools are looking to the maker community, which successfully incorporates inquiry-based and active learning (learning-by-doing) as part of the maker philosophy, to inform their classrooms and teaching techniques, particularly when it comes to attracting students who have become disengaged by formal educational settings.

More and more schools and community centres are beginning to convert spaces into active maker spaces to encourage exploration and experimentation with technology. Makerspaces and Maker Faires are cropping up in communities from coast-to-coast and across the globe, promoting a DIY mentality and innovative, maker spirit.

At the heart of the maker movement is an ideology that innovation should be collaborative, fun and based on exploration. In this vein, new opportunities are being explored by forward-thinking companies, launching EdTech oriented activities and toys geared specifically to teach these skill sets to inspire a new generation of innovators.

For example, one company called Infento has developed the world’s first kit for families that lets them build real constructible rides together using simple modular parts. The building process is designed like a game, with the first task being the construction of a simple toolbox made out of cardboard that teaches children all of the different pieces. From there, a family would decide which ride they want to create and use online instructions to start building.

The name Infento is a combination of two Latin words: “infinitus” (infinite) and “planto” (to make). When pronounced, the name sounds like “invent,” which is exactly what Infento hopes families will be inspired to do with this collaborative experience.

Infento’s newest Kickstarter campaign enables families to use only one kit and one hex key to create a huge range of rides, from walkers and scooters for toddlers all the way up to go-karts, skibocks and sledges for teens.

Similarly, Nintendo released a modular kit called the Nintendo Labo that enables young people to create interactive gaming elements for the Switch out of cardboard. Options include a miniature piano, a fishing pole, a robot and even a motorbike. However, the best part of these accessories is that they help children to understand how these elements function.

Makey MakeyA third toy that is finding itself more and more often listed alongside Raspberry Pi and Arduino is the Makey Makey.  This handy gadget can turn everyday objects into computer input touchpads, so, for instance, a banana becomes the space bar.the

It’s a simple invention kit for beginners and experts doing art, engineering, and everything in between.  This is a kit that teaches young people how to use alligator clips to add connectivity and conductivity to everyday objects like bananas and donuts to create music, touchpads, interactive maps and more.

Makey Makey inspires children to come up with their own designs, all while teaching them basic principles of electrical engineering and coding.

The advancement of toys such as these are indicative of an important shift in thinking for the younger generations. Rather than being passive consumers of technology, young people turn into active creators, developing creativity and skills in true maker fashion.

Organizations like the XPRIZE Foundation recognize the value of this out-of-the-box thinking and have even begun incentivizing young people to put their innovation skills to the test. Most recently, the Shell Ocean Discovery XPRIZE announced a challenge for students between the ages of 12 and 18 to “Design a Deep-Sea Treasure” that could be placed on the ocean floor to help map the final frontier on the earth. Winners can earn up to $2,000 cash and another $5,000 for their supporting school or organization.

Innovative Maker Companies Returning Childhood to Its Hands-on Roots

While there are still many valid reasons to be concerned, as parents, about our kids’ experience with technology, it’s reassuring to see companies leveraging it to encourage active rather than passive engagement.

Looking to employ the maker spirit in their toys and games, innovative companies are incorporating technology while actually drawing on old school roots encouraging exploration, discovery, creativity, and collaborative play.

Reigniting a joy of learning, building skills, inspiring ideas and collaboration; empowering kids to dive in and get their hands dirty, have fun, developing the skills they need to make technology work for them, not the other way around.

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

 

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