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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Fun Friday! Easy & Fun Beginner Maker Ed Projects

banana apple makeymakey DIY beginner maker projects

Maker Ed, or Maker Education, is a new school of educational thought that focuses on delivering constructivist, project-based learning curriculum and instruction to students. As the Maker Movement begins to make inroads into conventional education, maker education spaces are geared to facilitating hands-on learning experiences that incorporate both low and high tech, and can be as large as full high school workshops with high-tech tools, or as small and low-tech as one corner of an elementary classroom.

Maker Ed is particularly effective when leveraging the balance between exploration and execution. Small projects lend themselves to indefinite tinkering and fiddling, while larger projects need complex, coordinated planning. Often, small projects can organically grow into larger and larger projects. This deliberate process strengthens and enriches a learner’s executive functioning skills.

Effective Maker Ed isn’t just about the tools and technology.  Communication and collaboration are two of Maker Ed’s fundamental values. Making allows learners to practice their social communication skills in a variety of ways:  Affinity-based, where students organize themselves in real world and/or Internet (or virtual) to learn something connected to a shared endeavor, interest, or passion; role-specific, where the learning is customized dependent upon the specific tasks and function of the project and the training is presented in the context of a specific role ands what it takes to perform that role; or, teacher-assigned, where the educator facilitates more directly assigning each student to a particular task in the project.  It’s important for all different groups to be present in student learning spaces so that all students can practice their social skills in multiple settings.

Additionally, making offers unique opportunities to generate flow learning, an optimal psychological state that students experience when engaged in an activity that is appropriately challenging to their individual skill levels while encouraging immersion and concentrated focus on a task. Flow learning allows for deeper learning experiences as well as higher levels of personal and work satisfaction where the teacher is better able to leverage high-interest projects and activities and turn them into learning objectives within a curriculum.

Ultimately, we are talking about collaboration and learning through doing.  Maker education provides the space for real-life collaboration, integration across multiple disciplines, and iteration—the opportunity to fail, rework a project and find success.

We at MIDAS are fully committed to supporting the efforts of educators and makers looking to promote a cooperative learning environment where collaboration and education work hand-in-hand encouraging innovation in the most fun and organic ways possible.

New to the Maker Culture and education?  Here are a few fun and easy suggestions to get things going with the young – or old – aspiring makers in your life:

Smaller Scale Maker Ed Projects

Do you want to get into Making and Maker Ed but don’t know where to start? No problem! Here are nine class-tested, teacher-approved ideas, which can be built using a few tools for K–8 students.

tower of power beginner maker projectTowers of Power

Materials:  Paper, Scotch tape.

Tools: Scissors.

A great starting point for a beginning Maker teacher, this “Towers of Power” activity allows students to build towers out of paper and Scotch tape.

Students can build the tallest tower with an unlimited amount of materials, constrain themselves to limited materials or introduce new materials, such as straws and paper clips.

Once it’s complete, have fun crushing the tower with textbooks! Find out which tower holds up the most weight.

This group activity can help students with teamwork, leadership and planning skills. Best of all, variations on this theme are endless — and the materials can be found in any home or office.

simple catapult beginner maker projectCatapults

Materials:  Mouse traps, wood stirring sticks, erasers, wood blocks, ping-pong balls. hot glue.

Tools: a hot glue gun.

 

Introducing elements of STEM, this catapult activity is a favourite project to introduce engineering principles, motion and fun. The catapult allows students to chase down the best launching angle and the ratio between power and arm length, as well as discuss projectile motion, gravity, physics laws and a whole host of other things.

Plus, every student likes trying to smash something apart with a teacher’s permission.

Little hands might pinch themselves handling the strong lever, so it’s good practice to disengage the spring for students while they make their catapults.

Design Challenge Projects

Terrific exercises in STEAM!  And a great way to get into making is to give you and your students a few hours to explore the Making design process. Design challenges are a great way to get this done.

Set a hard time limit, test the devices, take time to evaluate and reflect.

Bridge to Nowhere beginner maker projectBridge to Nowhere

Materials:  Wood craft sticks, hot glue, 5-gallon bucket with weights.

Tools:  Hot glue gun,  diagonal cutters.

Design a bridge to span a foot-long gap and hold as much weight as possible.

An extension could be to build a cantilever — a bridge with only one footing.

Use a set amount of craft sticks or materials in order to encourage creativity in solutions.

Float the Boat

 beginner maker projectFloat the Boat

Materials:  Tinfoil, craft sticks, bamboo skewers, paper, hot glue, clay, wood scraps, pens and markers.

Tools:  Scissors, hot glue guns, craft sticks.

Design a boat that can hold the most cargo, move through the water the fastest, or has the most efficient weight to cargo ratio.

Find the best shape for sails, design the fastest hull and find the balance point.

Egg Drop beginner maker STEM projectEgg Drop

Materials:  Cardboard boxes, packing tape, junk and stuff (the weirder, the better). Think packing materials, fabric scraps, string, rope, plastic bags, etc.

Tools:  Scissors.

Some serious STEM fun!

Throwing eggs off something high always gets kids motivated.

It’s a great way to discuss momentum and illustrate why you should always wear your seat belt!

Beginner Maker projects DIY musical instrumentsInstruments


Materials:  Wood scraps, strings, dried rice, beans, sandpaper, cardboard, cardboard boxes, paper rolls, hot glue, tape, small sections of pipe, etc.

Tools:  Hot glue gun, scissors, hole punch, awl.

If a teacher offers a student the opportunity to make something joyfully noisy, they usually take it.

Homemade, DIY, maker instruments come in all different sizes and types — from wood drums to coffee can shakers, to wind chimes to xylophones, it just takes a bit of a Google search to find great ideas.

Electricity

Once you—parent, teacher, facilitator —get your “legs” for developing and encouraging Maker projects, why not expand your skills?

By now you’ve seen what you and what your kids can do. You’ve probably worked out how to efficiently manage the classroom and supplies, and document learning. Kick it up a level consider some more advanced projects incorporating electricity.

Electromagnetic beginner maker STEM projectElectromagnets



Materials:  Metal bolts, nails, copper wire, batteries.Tools:  Pliers, scissors or wire snips.

Electromagnets illustrate the connection between electricity and magnetism.

In real life, electromagnets are the cornerstone of many common electrical devices, such as door bells, burglar alarms, car doors and electric motors. Students can fiddle with them to create small toys that can pick up ferrous objects.

Squishy Circuits DIY beginner maker projectsSquishy Circuits

Materials:  Battery holder – 4XAA Batteries w/ Switch, (4) AA Batteries, LED – 5mm or 10mm Jumbo, Conductive Dough, Insulating Dough.

Tools:  Hot plate, or stove, and pots, wire snips or scissors.

Squishy circuits are a fun way to learn and explore the basics of electricity and electrical circuits and they solve one of the biggest conundrums with younger Makers: how to build with real electronic components when the young hands have yet to develop the fine motor skills to connect relatively small parts together via grown up tools?

Play dough! Take a piece of flour and a small collection of electronic parts (which you can find online at a low cost.)

You can get all the deets for this project HERE.

banana apple makeymakey DIY beginner maker projectsArduino, Raspberry Pi, MakeyMakey Controller Boards

Materials:

Anything you can get your hands on:   Tinfoil, wires

Tools:  Pliers, scissors, Arduino, Raspberry Pi, MakeyMakey

Once the students have made a few electronic circuits, they might ask for something a bit more complicated.

Give them a programmable microcontroller board, which they can use to play a banana piano, design a custom video game controller or create a dance floor that can play different songs with each tile.

Check out these great microcontroller projects HERE!

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Fun Friday: Raspberry Pi BeetBox

DIY Raspberry Pi BeetBox

Looking for a new and unique party activity… using a somewhat unpopular vegetable??  May we introduce the BeetBox!

This fun and interesting project combines the magic of the Raspberry Pi and beets to create a rather unique and simple instrument that allows users to play drum beats by touching actual beets.

Since its release in 2012, this little gem of a mini-computer has the DIY community in love!   And it’s the range and diversity of the Raspberry Pi that has made it such a hit among makers.  This project requires a Raspberry Pi, the Raspberry Pi 3 Complete Starter Kit, a touch sensor, a soldering station, and your favorite invention kit if you’re a newbie. You’ll also need some basic carpentry skills to build the enclosure. But, once your BeetBox is complete, you’ll be charming friends and family with the best and most interesting instrument on the block!

To get started, the source code and instructions for the BeetBox are viewable on GitHub. This project is also do-able with an Arduino as well as MaKey MaKey.  There will be reference to other necessary components here and you can visit over to Scott Made This for more info and a simple Google search can also lead you to where you can find them (ie. Amazon).

Raspberry Pi & beets DIY BeetBox

The enclosure is made with .5″x8″ poplar boards, which are cut to size and finished using various hand and power tools. A router can be used for both the edge details and for grooves in which to conceal the wires, and a drill press to create the speaker grill and to bore holes for the beets with a hole saw. It can then be stained and assembled with wood glue and a nail gun, sealing the enclosure with polyurethane.

Touch sensing is handled by an MPR121 Capacitive Touch Sensor from SparkFun, for which existing Arduino code can be ported to Python. This board communicates with a Python script on a Raspberry Pi via I2C. The script watches for new touches and triggers drum samples using pygame. Audio from the Pi’s line out is run through a small amplifier using an LM386, which is based on a circuit straight from the data sheet. The amp is connected to a salvaged speaker mounted under the holes in the lid.

To find out more information, including a complete list of recommended tools and parts, as well as more DIY inspiration, head over to Scott Made This.

Exciting #BCTECH Summit Launch: SMRT1 Technologies Brain STEM Toolbox

This is definitely MIDAS Fab Lab Director Brad Pommen’s week!  First, the announcement of his featured speaking gig and now the exciting unveiling of a project dear to his heart and one that has been much anticipated by Brad, his company, SMRT1 Technologies Ltd., and anyone who has had the privelege to witness the idea’s evolution over these many months.

Eight years ago, having initiated his first tech club, the Nelson Tech Club, Brad found himself in search of an effective way to provide the growing local maker community a way to not only find the tech products and equipment they needed but also how to use it.  In one efficient step.

While a huge ask, he looked to the traditional vending kiosk system for his answer.  The idea simmered, and the concepts were pondered and explored for the next six years.  It wasn’t until shortly into his tenure as Director of MIDAS that the idea started take physical form.  He purchased his first vending machine directly from the factory and began the long and iterative journey of prototyping.

At the same time, his new business, SMRT1, also began taking shape.  His entrepreneurial journey was assisted when he registered with the BC Venture Accelerator Program under the expert guidance of entrepreneur-in-residence and current Executive Director of KAST, Don Freschi.

From basic vending machine to state-of-the-art touchscreen technology, SMRT1 Technologies is taking a pretty brilliant stab at revolutionizing what is a very conventional industry.  Vending machines have been slow to change and the Brain STEM Toolbox technology gives brand new life to the traditional vending machine with incredible touchscreen capabilities that go well beyond simply choosing your desired item off a rack behind glass.

MadeAtMIDAS SMRT1 BrainSTEM vending machine.

A very early iteration of what is now the clean and efficient touchscreen technology in the final version of the SMRT1 Brain STEM vending machine.

Education is a huge driver behind the Brain STEM Toolbox.  It isn’t simply about the purchase.  Rather, SMRT1 Technologies  has created a learning system designed to be easy and fun.  The touchscreen allows for full specs, details and the ability to rotate and zoom on the image of the product to allow for a far more educated purchase.

SMRT1 has been enthusiastically received by local education institutions.  There are currently six Brain STEM Toolboxes set to roll out to BC schools in September.  Teachers who are already using the learning modules and projects are excited to have in-school access.

The Brain STEM Toolbox takes the vending machine as we have always known it to a whole new level: this is an interactive and educational shopping experience.  It’s perfect for schools, technology retail, or any other pop-up retail location. Payments are easy and secure with cash, bank card or digital wallets.

“Snack vending machines are retro-fitted with our custom hardware which uses machine learning to interact with the student to help them choose the right project.  It also allows cash, credit or a digital wallet to pay for the project which is then dispensed.  It was the best way I could think of to get the projects that pair with the online learning modules close to the students and the teachers,” said Brad Pommen CEO of SMRT1 Technologies.

“The Brain STEM Toolbox can shape-shift to have application to a wide variety of micro-niche retail sectors.”

SMRT1 BrainSTEM Toolbox #BCTECH Summit launch

SMRT1 Technologies bridges the physical shopping experience with that of e-commerce. Not only does this technology revolutionize what is possible through a vending machine, it’s a completely custom experience available for less than $10,000!

This high-tech touchscreen tech vending machine will be on display at the MIDAS Fab Lab booth at the upcoming #BCTECH Summit in Vancouver next week, May 14-16,

If you want more information on the Brain STEM and SMRT1, do visit: www.smrt1.ca.

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

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Fun Friday: DIY Raspberry Pi Photo Booth

A DIY photo booth for your next party

Looking for a cool way to amp up your next party?  This DIY Raspberry Pi Photo Booth should do the trick!

If your in need of a cool addition to your next party, check out this cool little DIY project.  Forget renting a photo booth to document your friends and loved ones, with a little techie elbow grease, a DSLR and the magic of a Raspberry Pi, you can set up your own rig for simply pennies.

There’s two parts to this project. You may find that connecting all the components is the least challenging part of this project with the slightly harder part the wrangling of the software.  While there’s a lot of similar projects out there on the ol’ interwebs, this one from developer Phillip Trenz, with a useful local Wi-Fi feature for downloading photos, seemed to be pretty good.

To install it, follow Trenz’s instructions from the Github page for the project. Essentially, what you’re doing here is installing the various pieces of software the program needs to run — including gphoto2, which is a super comprehensive piece of open-source image capture software that works with almost every camera ever made.

Next step:  install the app, and you’re good to go.

What you need:

  • A Raspberry Pi 3, or an older Raspberry Pi with a Wi-Fi adapter.
  • A monitor with HDMI-in, to be the screen of the photo booth.
  • A DLSR or other camera that can connect to the Pi over USB, along with whatever weird cable your camera needs to do it.
  • A mouse and keyboard, which you’ll need to get things set up on the Pi.
  • A tripod, ideally one that’s taller than your screen so that you don’t block the camera.
  • Patience for messing around with network settings.
  • Props!

Tips to putting it together:

A few hints: once you connect the camera, you need to eject it from the local filesystem, since it can’t be mounted as a folder and used as a camera at the same time. Similarly, I’d recommend setting the camera to shoot in JPEG — not RAW — if you’re using a DSLR. This is because the Pi has trouble handling the larger images.

There’s also a config.json file where you can edit some settings, like whether or not the app will run in fullscreen or if you want the camera to save pictures or simply store them directly on the Pi.

Trenz’s app also includes a local webapp for viewing and displaying pictures. The trick here, though, is to get the Raspberry Pi to broadcast a local Wi-Fi network, which is kind of complicated. This guide from developer Phil Martin over at Frillip is a good place to start.  When you get everything setup correctly, you’ll have a local network. You’ll just need an IP address to share with guests for access to the photos. If you’re really clever, you can use DNS mapping to make an actual simple address for your local network, like photo.booth, to make it easier to get to.

Now, all you need are the fake moustaches, feather boas and some crazy hats!

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Fun Friday: Stop Motion Camera With Raspberry Pi

There is a ton of fun to be had with the Raspberry Pi!  This low cost, credit-card sized computer enables people of all ages to explore computing, and to learn how to program in languages like Scratch and Python. It’s capable of doing everything you’d expect a desktop computer to do, from browsing the internet and playing high-definition video, to making spreadsheets, word-processing, and playing games.

But…. there’s so much more!  This nifty little gadget is a dream for makers as the Pi can be used in a multitude of digital maker projects, from music machines and parent detectors to weather stations and tweeting birdhouses with infra-red cameras.

With all the myriad ways to make use of the Raspberry Pi, this week it was this one that caught our eye.

For all you aspiring film-makers, dig out your old Lego minifies – or an orange – and start creating fun, interesting, totally home-baked movies in no time!

OK, so maybe not a beginner project, but definitely inspiration!

With this resource, you will make a stop motion animation using a Raspberry Pi and a camera module to take pictures, controlled by a push button connected to the Pi’s GPIO pins. The photos will be automatically generated into a video by using the command line tool avconv.

By creating a push button stop motion machine with your Raspberry Pi you will learn:

  • How to set up and use the Raspberry Pi camera module
  • How to use the Python picamera library to capture photographs
  • How to connect a button to the GPIO pins on a Raspberry Pi
  • How to control the camera with a button using GPIO Zero
  • How to generate a video from the command line using avconv

This resource covers elements from the following strands of the Raspberry Pi Digital Making Curriculum:

What you’ll need for this project:

Hardware

  • Raspberry Pi camera module
  • 1 x Full size breadboard
  • 2 x Male-to-female jumper leads
  • 1 x Tactile button

Software

You’ll need to make sure you have the following packages installed to proceed with the workshop.

  • libav-tools

Check out the entire project HERE and, if you take it on, be sure to let us know!

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Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames 2018 – Cheer On Your Favourite Robot!

RoboGames GLOWS Selkirk College 2018

 Imagination meets technology at the Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames!

Prepare to enjoy a robot competition like no other!  Everyone is welcome to attend this Saturday, April 28th at the Castlegar Campus Gymnasium, the 2018 RoboGames, where Kootenay – Boundary youth aged 6 to 18 bring their robotics a-game to compete in this fun and exciting competition in local innovation.

Get there early as the games begin at 10am!

Selkirk College GLOWS RoboGames

RoboGames is a unique opportunity where, experimentation and mentoring, youth from throughout the region learn how to design, build and program robots that they will enter into RoboGames, a fun and free-spirited event full of prizes.

Look forward to teams competing their robot in up to two specialty events.  Each event is approximately 45 minutes and the schedule of events is as follows:

  • Line following – This event utilizes the obstacle course, except the robots must follow the line from end to end. There may be crossed or intersected lines, as well as obstacles to create havoc. Speed and accuracy will be highly praised. The line will be about the thickness of electrical tape.
  • Obstacle course – Robots maneuver the obstacle course as quickly and carefully as possible. Navigate walls and obstacles to reach the end of maze.
  • Robot battles – Robot gladiators in the ultimate destruction event!
  • Robot soccer: One on one, head-to-head, mano-a-mano! Robots grab the most robot soccer balls to their side in two minutes.
  • Special tricks – The crazier the better! Dance, tell a joke, fetch an object… it could be anything! A creative and fun event challenging the kids’ innovation.
  • Balloon popping – Which robot will pop the balloon first?! Robots enter the ring prepared to burst the balloon before their competitor.

Judges will be looking for design and assembly; programming and logic; the robot’s ability to problem solve as well as its ability to adapt to challenging situations.

Awards will take place between 3-3:30pm.

Find out more HERE!

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The Maker Movement: DIY, Hands-on, Innovation In Action!

maker movement fostered at MIDAS

There is a movement afoot and, with the help of education, tools and equipment (such as welcomes you at MIDAS!) to more easily and cost-efficiently bring ideas to life, it’s gaining tremendous steam!

The Maker Movement – or in more familiar terms, Do-It-Yourself – is growing in participation in schools, communities and industry throughout the province, and, of course, beyond.  What makes this a movement, rather than simply the act of puttering in one’s garage, is the resources, equipment and materials available to support it in ways we’ve never seen before.

This movement is grassroots innovation and it’s being enthusiastically embraced and fostered in more and more communities, nurturing an ever growing number of people, creative and curious.

The digital age has really blown the lid off what was formerly tinkering, or on a larger scale, inventing and innovating with significant effort and resources to bring an idea to prototype, using specific manufacturers located by and large overseas.  Inventing and innovating, as it has previously been known, has required very specialized software and fabrication equipment, not easily accessible either in terms of cost or location and has made it prohibitive for potential innovators to see a project through to completion let alone market.

With technology expanding as it is, so fast and with such scope, the creative process of invention and innovation is being transformed.  The access we have to imaging, scanning, drafting and other specialized software as well as the fabrication equipment to translate plans into tangible, surprisingly high quality, prototypes allows and encourages Maker creativity and invention unlike any time before.

MIDAS, and our MIT certified facilities, is a great example.  As part of this movement gathering momentum, every day we see makers contributing to what is becoming their own market ecosystem, developing incredible new products and services. The combination of ingenious makers and innovative technologies such as the Raspberry Pi mini-computer and Arduino micro-controller along with 3D printing are driving innovation in manufacturing, engineering, industrial design, hardware technology and education.

Makerspaces are cropping up in communities big and small. Offering everything from Repair Cafes – where makers offer up their talents to fix and repurpose everything from computers to mobile phones to toaster ovens – to workshops on soldering and Arduino to imaging software education to actual fabrication and prototyping equipment, as we do here.

Inquiry-based and more hands-on education trends are beginning to trend as well.  Schools, for pre-schoolers through secondary students, are offering more and more resources and opportunities to explore and nurture their curiosity.  Through electronics and technology, young people are challenging their own creativity, innovating unlike ever before through coding, robotics and other fun and hands-on ways of expanding their knowledge and experience in the various facets of Science, Technology, Engineering, Art (Design), Mathematics, or STEAM.

While many makers consider themselves simply hobbyists or enthusiasts they are a vibrant and fundamental source of innovation, embracing creativity, developing new products and generating value in the Maker community.  In fact, it’s not unusual for some of these Makers to take the leap as entrepreneurs and start companies.  We see it all the time!

While there are several industry professionals who take advantage of the incredible Maker opportunities at MIDAS, it’s not necessary to be an engineer or techie to enjoy all a space like MIDAS offers.  Check out our #madeatMIDAS features to see the examples of ordinary people making extraordinary things.

That’s what’s so great about the Maker Movement: accessibility!  You don’t even need to bring an idea… just your imagination and curiosity.  The ideas will flow soon enough!

What can MIDAS can help you make!  Check out our calendar of courses HERE!

#madeatMIDAS #makersgonnamake

Introduction to MIDAS from MIDAS Fab Lab on Vimeo.

Fun Friday! Raspberry Pi DIY Laptop With A Little Trotec Laser Cutter!

 

Raspberry Pi Trotec Laser Cutter DIY laptopWhat do you get when you combine the magic of a little Raspberry Pi with a wood casing courtesy a Trotec 120Watt Laser Cutter?  One heckuva DIY laptop!

Between the Raspberry Pi, loaded with powerful capabilities in such a tiny little package and the Trotec (upcoming Trotec 120Watt Laser Cutter course April 20th!) making short work of model making, industrial design, prototyping and just about any kind of DIY application, this creative idea is a great example of an integration of both.

Trotec Laser Cutter and Raspberry Pi DIY laptopThis project also relies upon a 3D printed component (Ultimaker 3D Printer course, April 13th!in the design for the screen hinge, but the rest of the PlyTop is cut out of a three 2′ x 4′ sheets of 1/8″ Baltic birch plywood.

The Plytop base and top are held together with a fair amounts of translucent wood glue.

This design uses a Peripad II B Touchpad, apparently the only self contained touch pad close to the size of a normal laptop trackpad at a decent price. It sits neatly in the Plytop shell and works just fine out of the box with the Raspberry Pi 3. Plug ’em in and they behave like your typical trackpad.

The Waveshare 10.1 is the best LCD screen on the market that includes a form fitting HDMI interface driver, powered through USB. These screens come attached to a laser cut acrylic base and some cheap HDMI and USB cables.

The monitor is affixed with some very brittle plastic screws and nuts and will require an HDMI cable with a very low connector profile (Monoprice cable) to best fit into the Waveshare’s port once it’s installed in the top shell.

If you’d like to see this project coming together click HERE.

If you’d like to see all the plans and ingredients to make this neat little device click HERE!

 

 

Plytop DIY laptop - Raspberry Pi Trotec laser cutter

 

 

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Fun Friday: Remote Controlled Car With Raspberry Pi & Bluetooth

Remote Controlled Car Using-Raspberry-Pi-and-Bluetooth

Credit card sized and jam packed with capabilities, the Raspberry Pi can function as a proper desktop computer, to build smart devices or to just have fun bringing new life to otherwise everyday items or old toys.

The Pi was originally intended to be a microcomputer to teach children coding. Its scope has since expanded as hobbyists and engineers realized how much could be achieved with the small device, making it one of the most popular technology items in the world.

This easy remote controlled car project, takes advantage of the little computer’s seamless wireless capabilities, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth, allowing a smart phone remote control of the driving.

The car selected is an RF toy car with moving left-right steering feature. The original RF circuit has been replaced with that of the Raspberry Pi. You can use any toy car that has two DC Motors to rotate the front and rear wheels.

The Pi is used to receive command wirelessly from an android phone with an Android app (BlueTerm) installed along with a Bluetooth serial adaptor for communicating with the Raspberry Pi to control the car.

Read more about how to make your own HERE!

Wondering where the name Raspberry Pi came from?  The name, Raspberry, is an homage to early computer companies being named after fruit, like Apple, Tangerine Computer Systems, Apricot Computers, and Acorn (which inspired the microcomputer’s design). Pi is derived from the original idea to make a small computer to run only the Python programming language.

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