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Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014 Fun & Successful!

11 Apr
Click to see our Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014 Album!

Click to see our Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014 Album!

Gulf coast MakerCon, Tampa Bay’s  3rd Annual Celebration of the DIY Inventive Spirit brought everything from Blacksmith Artists, to Electric Race Cars fireand fighting robots to the Florida Fairgrounds Special Events Center West, at 4800 Highway 301 North in Tampa, on April 5 & 6.

Gulf Coast MakerCon was an Affiliate Event of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, as well as a recognized National Robotics Week event, and a recognized International Tabletop Day event, co-hosted by Suncoast Skirmishers, where tabletop gaming enthusiasts  tried out everything from Dungeons & Dragons to board games and card games.

Over 550 guests enjoyed browsing 50 technical, creative and professional exhibits blacksmithscovering everything from patent development and the inventive process, to 3D printing, programming, mechanical and electrical design, green tech and open source technologies, with a special Young Makers section for kids and families helped along by the great folks at the Community Innovation Center in downtown Tampa, and Sarasota Scientific Instruments.  The Tampa Tribune and Fox New 13 came gave us some nice coverage, too!

robot battlesIn the Robotics Showcase, guests enjoyed student built robotics by FIRST teams, and the University of South Florida Robotics Interest Group 15 lb. and under class fighting robot competitions. We also had a Makerspace Makers Corner, a Florida Inventors Showcase hosted by the Tampa Bay Inventors Council, Electrathon of Tampa Bay student built electric race cars, and some energetic chemistry demos by Mr. Home Scientist, Dan Flisek.  The Florida Artist Blacksmiths Association was a huge hit, working their magic to turn iron rods into roses and other art.

Many many thanks to our great sponsors Hillsborough County, Gabotronics and Learning is for Everyone, Inc. and to our in-kind partners, DEX Imaging , Mity-Mo Creative, Studio 7 Communications and F5 Live Refreshing Technology electrathon racerswho broadcast live from Gulf Coast MakerCon all afternoon on Saturday!

We’ve already got our amazing planning team in place and the Special Events Center at the Florida State Fairgrounds reserved again for next spring, so stay tuned for Gulf Coast MakerCon 2015!

gamingAnd in the meantime, stay connected on our Facebook page and through Twitter, send  us your events and announcements, and join the Gulf Coast Makers Consortium and keep the momentum going in building our Gulf Coast Makers Community!

 

Visit Plughitz F5 Live Refreshing Technology to see more great video and interviews from Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014!

Day One, Awesome Fun!

5 Apr

flickr We had a terrific first day at Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014! The weather was gorgeous, making for picture perfect runs of the Electrathon racers, breezes under the trees where the blacksmith artists worked, and generally a perfect Florida spring day to celebrate innovation,  creativity and invention!

The battles raged at B.A.M., with some awesome robot matches,  and we got some nice press from the Tampa Tribune, Fox 13 News and Plughitz F5 Live Makercon schedulecoverage throughout the day.

Check out our Day 1 photo album on Flickr, and some of today’s videos and stories.  The fun resumes tomorrow at 1oam.  The presentation schedule’s been changed up a bit – check out the latest line up here.

TBO video 2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

f5 live 2

Meet the Makerspace Makers and Attend our 3rd Annual Makerspace UnConference

1 Apr

It’s an exciting time in Tampa Bay!  When we held our first “Makerspace UnConference” at our first Maker festival in 2012, there were no full scale makerspaces in Tampa Bay.  The Faulhaber FabLab at the GWIZ Science Museum in Sarasota and Familab in Orlando were our two closest maker neighbors.  Learning is for Everyone was exploring the idea with potential collaborative partners, and a couple of other efforts were under consideration.

This year, we’re joined by four groups who have various programs underway and are excited to share their success and programs with Gulf Coast MakerCon attendees.  We’re happy to introduce them to you! They’ll be exhibiting at Gulf Coast MakerCon all weekend, and leading our 3rd Annual Makerspace UnConference on Sunday, April 6, at 4:30 pm, where you can learn more about these spaces, and how you can work to build more of them in your community.

Community Innovation Center at the John F. Germany Library 

new logoThe Community Innovation Center (CIC) at John F. Germany Library is a collaborative effort between 1939934_482287221897921_725617154_oLearning is for Everyone, Inc (LI4E.org)  and the John F. Germany Library,   the flagship library of the Tampa-Hillsborough County Public Library System.   At 10,000 square feet, the CIC is the largest such facility in Tampa Bay and in Florida, and will function as a public Makerspace, an Entrepreneurship Center, a proving ground for Invention and Exploration, and the ultimate Creative Space,  providing the tools and human capital for fostering active creation, as well as the necessary knowledge for that creation.  The CIC, scheduled to open at the end of April,  is arranged into eight distinct, but flexible sections:

  • TechMasters Center
  • Entrepreneurial Center
  • Robotics Centers
  • Hands-On Workshop
  • Machine Shop
  • Media Lab & Studio
  • Arts Center
  • Computer Lab

CIC staff will be sharing some fun activities for our Young Makers section, and showcasing a little of what will be available in the space when it opens.

Faulhaber Fab Lab

Fab Lab logo

The Faulhaber Fab Lab is the oldest space in the area, currently moving to a new location in Sarasota, it bring high level manufacturing capabilities to the Gulf Coast area.  “A fab lab, ” explains representative, Eric McGrath, ” is a non-profit entity that has collaborated with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology to assemble a diverse collection of state-of-the-art equipment and computers into one workspace as a community center for innovation, entrepreneurship, and STEM education.”

fablab WorkshopsDr. Fritz Faulhaber and his wife Ping and through the Faulhaber Family Foundation are collaborating with the community of Sarasota to open the fab lab and be a central resource for invention and fabrication by individuals, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, retirees and business. The staff and volunteers in the community workshop instill the confidence for members to learn, design and safely operate computer-controlled machinery.

“The aim of a fab lab,” says Eric, ” is to teach advanced skills in design, innovation and how to make “almost anything”. These skill sets learned through nurturing the inventor in all of us can be applied in many careers. Business collaboration, workforce development and community innovation is an integral part of the Faulhaber Fab Lab.”

Visit www.sarasotascience.org for updates and information

Tampa Hackerspace

tampa hackerspaceTampa Hackerspace is a local community workshop organized to enable learning of technology skills by providing tools, space, equipment and classes.

“We are a non-profit, membership based institution, ” explains Tampa Hackerspace president, Bill Shaw. ” A broad selection of classes and workshops are open to both members and non-members.

“Every week we open our doors to the public and get together to build some cool projects and meet some very cool people. Join us to work on your stuff, bounce ideas off of members, check out the 3D printers and other equipment and socialize. Occasionally, we’ll throw in a small workshop or class. This is our best attended event and is a great opportunity to see what we do and meet our community.”

Tampa Hackerspace also hosts a Kid’s Open Make on Sunday Afternoons for crafts, electronics and technology projects, Minecraft, programming activities and more! Every month, they have a new theme and a host of new activities geared towards elementary and middle school students. Space is limited so they ask that you RSVP on Meetup.com to reserve a spot.

You can connect with Tampa Hackerspace:
Web: http://tampahackerspace.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/HackTampa
Classes & Events: http://www.meetup.com/Tampa-Hackerspace

Land O’ Lakes Library,  Pasco County Library System

The Lanedgar allan ohmsd O’Lakes Library in Pasco County has been exploring the idea of opening a makerspace in its library system for the past year, and made a name for itself this year, Pasco County Library Cooperativewhen it became the first library in the country to field a FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC) team – the Edgar Allan Ohms! – who competed at the Orlando FRC Regional in March.  The Library is a trend setter, home to
one of the largest battle of the bands in the state (Rockus Maximus) and a popular anime convention (Lamecon) . A makerspace isn’t far behind!

The Land O’Lakes Library will be demoing their FRC robot, and showcasing free services and opportunities for job seekers and entrepreneurs. And you can apply for a library card, too!

Makerspace UnConference

Our 3rd Annual Makerspace UnConference will be held on Sunday, April 6th, at 4:30 pm at the Gulf Coast MakerCon stage.   As an “un” conference, it’s a casual opportunity to join in open discussion with these four very different spaces, that share a common interest in providing public creative spaces to build, learn and develop skills for hobby, personal satisfaction, and academic and career enrichment.   Join us to get ideas, share insights and find ways to collaborate in bringing more of these great spaces to Tampa Bay and the Gulf Coast!

 

Meet the Maker: Ellie Willingham, of Frontier Furs

20 Mar

Ellie This year we have a Heritage Craft  area, highlighting Makers of a different kind: People with traditional skills and expertise in fields that at one time were the cutting edge of technology, expanding trade and exploration, and improving life in myriad ways.  One of these Heritage Crafters is Ellie Willingham,  of Frontier Furs, unusual both for her skills, and for her gender in her field,  which has traditionally been male dominated.    Ms. Willingham’s exhibit was among our most popular last year, and this year she’s expanded her booth to offer a broader educational experience at Gulf Coast Maker Con 2014.

We asked her to tell more about what she does and why she does it.  We hope you enjoy her insights as much as we did!

GCMC: What do you do?

FF: I am a furrier – I make all kinds of things out of fur! Everything from hats and other winter accessories, to costuming and re-enactment attire. I Fontier Furstrap and process many of the furs myself, and others I obtain by trading with other trappers or fur crafters. I sell my furs at many local events and also online. Clients will also send me their own pelts to have made into a customized product of choice.

GCMC: How long have you been doing it?

FF: I skinned my first animal – a road killed squirrel – in my early teens and decided then I wanted to become a professional taxidermist. I did taxidermy for years until it later proved too costly to continue. So I switched to fur crafting and have enjoyed it ever since!

GCMC: What do you like about your work?

FF: I love fur crafting for countless reasons. There are so many beautiful and practical items that can be made from fur and leather, the possibilities are endless. I’m a very outdoorsy person, and during the winter I enjoy spending almost every morning out on my trapline (an area of woods set with a number of traps for furbearing species)  I have a deep respect for these animals and all they provide. I use their fur, eat their meat, and take to heart everything I can learn from tracking and observing them in their habitats. For me, it is a very natural way of being.

GCMC: Why do you think what you do is important?

FF: Much of what I do tends to get a bad rap from the media and the animal rights communities, mainly because people simply don’t understand it or have no real experience with it. And people often fear or dislike what they don’t understand. So by openly sharing my craft and teaching others about what I do, it will help the general public gain a better knowledge of this trade and to understand that it’s not all about “killing”. More so, it’s about responsibly utilizing and managing our natural resources, and preserving a traditional way of life.

Natural fur is a very renewable resource. Animals reproduce constantly, and they produce an excess in order to keep their populations stable. However if the excess is not kept in check, either through natural depredation or human harvests, many species will begin to overpopulate, which inevitably leads to spread of disease or inbreeding. In some areas where there are little or no natural predators, hunting and trapping is the most effective means of managing prolific species such as raccoons, coyotes, foxes, beavers, opossums and others.

Also, real fur is a completely natural and biodegradable product, even when processed and tanned. If discarded in a landfill, a piece of real fur or leather will eventually break down and disintegrate from the weather. Faux fur on the other hand, as well as synthetic leathers, are comprised of man-made materials, typically containing petroleum and plastics, which will never decompose in our lifetimes.

GCMC: The “Maker”community is often equated with high tech topics, but we believe the makers of heritage traditions are equally important. Why do you think what you do and make has value to the DIY community?

FF: In this high-tech world, I think it’s very important for people to see the simpler side of things, to know that many traditional methods and crafts still exist and are still being used today because of their timeless reliability. The only way we can pass on these heritage traditions, and to keep them going, is to expose and teach them to our future generations.

GCMC: What kind of demonstrations will you be doing at GCMC?

I will be demonstrating how to process fur from start to finish, and will also give a few tips on how to properly prepare wild game meat. Using a freshly harvested raccoon and opossum, I will show how to skin these animals and dress the meat, then get the pelts prepared for tanning. You will also get to try a taste of my special raccoon jerky!

GCMC: Will you have any interactive components?

I will have a “touch table” with all kinds of fur pelts and examples of products that I’ve made out of fur, along with the above-mentioned samples of raccoon jerky for anyone to try. It’s surprisingly tasty!

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You can meet Ms. Willingham and learn more about her timeless craft at Gulf Coast MakerCon April 5th & 6th.  Advanced discount tickets are available now – eventbrite button

 

Meet the Maker: Daniel Flisek, Mr. Home Scientist

10 Mar

Daniel FlisekHome ScientistDaniel Flisek is a civilian Physicist working for the US Navy with a self-professed ” strong interest in chemistry on the side.”

We  asked him to tell us a bit about himself and what he’s bringing to Gulf Coast MakerCon.

DF: “I have a Bachelor’s degree in physics from Virginia Tech, and I really got interested in chemistry only after I graduated. I originally got into amateur chemistry when I read Theodore Gray’s amazing website on his periodic table collection, and I decided I wanted to start my own.

“At first chemistry was a way to isolate elements for my collection by freeing them from their compounds, but my interest quickly grew to encompass all of the amazing things that can be done with the science. I’m particularly interested in inorganic chemistry and metallurgy.”

Daniel hosts a YouTube channel and blog, where he posts videos and write-ups of the experiments he does in his home laboratory.  (What? You don’t have a home laboratory?)

” The goal of all this,” says Daniel, ” is that I want to spread excitement and interest in science. Too often, kids get turned off to science (particularly chemistry) in school because the teachers either don’t have the background and aren’t aware of any exciting demos, aren’t able to do them because of lack of funds, or are too worried about liability. I’m trying to rekindle the spark of the scientist in people young and old by sharing what I do, and showing off some of the amazing things that can be done if you just put your mind to it.”

Look for some real sparks, at Gulf Coast MakerCon, too.  In addition to a static exhibit (which may have static) that will feature an Element display, Daniel will also be creating some showy chemical reactions for us.

“I think community maker events are a great opportunity for people to share the cool things they do with others,” says Daniel. “It’s also a terrific thing to demonstrate the incredible things people can do at home, and that you don’t need fancy equipment, a huge bank account, or a PhD to accomplish some pretty amazing things.”

If you want to see Daniel, and some fine chemistry, in action, get your tickets today

eventbrite button

Gulf Coast MakerCon for Educators

9 Mar
GCMC educator cover

Click on the image to download a copy of the Gulf Coast MakerCon Educators Guide.

The “maker” movement is simply the DIY creative spirit reignited for the 21st century. It’s a return to self-sufficiency, self-reliance and creativity, providing engaging and hands-on opportunities to inspire, educate, and entertain curious and creative learners of all ages. It celebrates arts, crafts, engineering, food, green design, music, science and technology and brings together communities who embrace the DIY (do-it-yourself) spirit.  There are lots of ways to “make” education happen in this very active learning experience, and to engage students in active learning at Gulf Coast MakerCon.

We’ve compiled some resources for educators interested in visiting Gulf Coast MakerCon with their students, or just looking for classroom take-aways.  The weekend will be rich with hands on learning opportunities for all ages, and will hopefully inspire some ideas for classroom enrichment in the process.

The overall goal of Gulf Coast MakerCon is to help people of all ages become empowered creators of their future and ours, to feel capable of creating, repairing, inventing, adapting, handling, trying , and becoming active and engaged producers instead of passive consumers . To that end we hope that both youth and adults will take the opportunity of Gulf Coast MakerCon to:

  • Meet and interact with all our Makers, who are sharing their unique passions and projects.deconstruction
  • Explore the wide variety of exhibits and presentations that will be available throughout the weekend.
  •  Experience a live performance or demonstration.
  • Engage in a hands-on project or activity that you can take home.
  •  Collaborate on a project or share experiences with people of all ages.
  • Learn about the power of the Maker community.
  • Be inspired, as a student or member of the public, to try at least one new idea at home or at school.
  • Be inspired, as a teacher, to bring at least one new idea for active making into the classroom.
  • Get a sense of the wonder and value of following your passion!
  • Inspire Curiosity in the world around you!

If you’re a public school teacher in Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, or Polk county and would like to bring groups of ten or more students to Gulf Coast MakerCon, please drop us a line at info@learningis4everyone.org so we can provide you with a classroom rate, and help maximize the educational impact of your visit.

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