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Gulf Coast MakerCon Comes to Florida Fairgrounds, April 5 & 6

26 Nov

fb iconLearning is for Everyone (LI4E.org) hosted the area’s  first ever Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire in 2012. 2013 logoIn 2013, our event nearly doubled in size, drawing more than 500 attendees. For 2014, LI4E is dialing up our annual DIY Celebration of the Inventive Spirit with a two day Gulf Coast MakerCon, at the Florida Fairgrounds Special Events Center April 5& 6, 2014.

With an emphasis on technical, creative and professional workshops and sessions covering everything from patent development and the inventive process, to 3D printing, programming, mechanical and electrical design, green tech and open source technologies, Gulf Coast MakerCon will provide added value for adult attendees, with a special Young Makers section for kids and families, as well. There will be a wide variety of creative nd interactive vendors, exhibitors, and entertainment that includes everything from robotics and metalsmithing, to recycled instruments, ham radio, RC modeling, automotive tech, gaming, inventions, innovations, future tech and much more.

So save the date and look for more details soon!

LI4E Heads to Pasco EcoFest with Artist and Maker Chuck Stephens & LearningMan

6 Nov

Tampa artist and maker,  and  Learning is for Everyone volunteer, Chuck Stephens, is bringing  his concept art,  “LearningMan”to Pasco EcoFest, in keeping with LI4Es mission to support “the ecofestCuriosity Driven Life.”

“LearningMan is a participatory interactive sculpture designed to bring attention to the plastic cycle and encourage discussion of better and more efficient recycling solutions,” says Chuck.

Inspired by the annual Burning Man Festival, our large human shaped sculpture will be constructed of bamboo with an LED lighting system (reused from our Red Bull challenge project!). Festival attendees will be encouraged to tie empty plastic drink bottles and other plastic waste to the frame throughout the day Friday and Saturday. Saturday evening the sculpture will be raised and lit up. The plastic will diffuse the light of the LEDs creating an eye catching display that will flash and change color with the music from the festival stage. After the festival the sculpture will be disassembled and properly recycled.

Besides being a fun and interactive art project at EcoFest, the purpose of this project is to increase awareness of plastic and its place in our world.

“Plastic is everywhere but few of us know how it is made or what happens to it after we put it in the recycling bin,” Chuck notes. ” With the rise of the maker movement and the advent and growth of 3D printing, the role of plastic is changing. I see a future where consumers will have access to closed loop home recycling systems where waste plastic will be turned into the raw materials for home manufacturing to create an endless array of goods. Someday, hopefully, throwing away an empty plastic bottle will be as foolish as throwing away perfectly good printer ink.

“The first steps toward this change is awareness and consumer education and LearningMan is meant to be a fun way of engaging this issue.”

Come out and indulge your curiosity with Chuck and Learning is for Everyone, at Sims Park in New Port Richey this weekend!

Robot Hack Meet Up at John F. Germany Library Sunday Nov. 3, 1pm

2 Nov

Capture As development of the  new Learning is for Everyone (LI4E)  Community Innovation Center gets underway at the John F. Germany Library in downtown Tampa, some early projects are getting underway, staring with a  Robot Hack team.

If you want to join in the fun, come out to the John F. Germany Library this coming Sunday, Nov. 3, at 1pm, to join in the first G+ session on how to build an open source robot.  The LI4E Robot Hack team is meeting in the Carmen Manis meeting room on the 2nd floor of the Library at 900 N Ashley Drive in Tampa.

The team’s Robot Hack kit arrives next week, after which they’ll be embarking on a project of musical dimensions.  Join them Sunday to learn more, and get ready to play with robots!

 

Florida Inventors Hall of Fame

6 Sep

hall of fameTo invent, you need a good imagination and a pile of junk.” -Thomas A. Edison

You can find that wonderful quote on the homepage of the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame website.

You didn’t know there was a Florida Inventors Hall of Fame? We didn’t either.  It’s close to home, too –  at the University of South Florida!  It caught our eye with a recent news piece about Dr. Richard Jove, Ph.D., director of the Vaccine & Gene Therapy Institute of Florida (VGTI Florida®),joining the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame Advisory Board.  The reason we haven’t heard of it, is because it’s brand new, just kicking off its inaugural year.

According to the website, the Florida Inventors Hall of Fame ” honors and celebrates those inventors whose achievements have advanced the quality of life for Floridians, our state and our nation. The Florida Inventors Hall of Fame encourages individuals of all ages and backgrounds to strive toward the betterment of Florida and society through continuous, groundbreaking innovation. By commending the incredible scientific work being accomplished in the state of Florida, our state will attract interest, funding, and further the growth of our innovation sector. “

Florida Inventors Hall of Fame honorees will be selected annually through an open nomination process, and reviewed by Selection Committee .  The first induction ceremony will be held in 2014.

How awesome is that?!

Invention Alive and Well in Tampa Bay

29 Jul
gabotronics

Gabotronics at our 2013 Makers Fair

The Tampa Bay Business Journal ran a piece earlier this month titled, “Tampa tech industry is healthy, but local inventors are needed.”  Clearly TBBJ hasn’t been to one of our Maker Fairs, but more to the heart of the matter,   TBBJ says what’s missing is funding – “Industry observers say lack of local funding has cost the Bay area promising startups such as TourWrist, a Tampa company that moved its headquarters to San Francisco to be closer to potential investors.”

We’d suggest local entrepreneurial and community support is also critical.  Having a community that supports small scale innovation and invention is vital to nurturing that innovation and invention and keeping it here.   And invention does thrive here in Tampa Bay!

Over the last couple of years, we’ve highlighted dozens of Tampa Bay area inventors, from Snapit Screw to Gabotronics, and FRETS1 Satellite, In10did and Mentagy at our Fairs, to website profiles of inventors like young Hunter Morera and his Select-a-Wrench, John Doyle and his Doctor Door Stop,University of South Florida associate professor Daniel Yeh’s Gates’ funded water snap it screw photopurification device, and others.

More recently, South Tampa inventor  Jeff Bonnell  has been in the news with his Splashtablet Case – a unique suction-mount, waterproof case the iPad , and Palm Harbor inventor,  Tanya Lewis, who signed with Master Broker Jack Di Salvo (of Oxyclean fame),  and was also lauded as  Mom Inventor of the Year ,  an honor that included two airings on QVC for her Green Glider reusable mop pad.

Inventors are alive and well in Tampa Bay, and our community is growing and getting stronger all the time.  Here at Gulf Coast Makers, we celebrate makers big and small, young and older and will keep celebrating them, and working for the types of spaces and places where we can all invent and create together.

If you have an invention, an entreprenuerial experience, idea or best practice to share, or just want to talk shop,  contact us . We welcome guest bloggers and maker news from all over the Gulf Coast.

In Celebration of Competitive Creativeness

14 Jul
IMG_1309

LI4E Makerspace Project team working on Red Bull Creation 2013 contest build.

A couple of years ago the America Competes Reauthorization Act was approved granting federal agencies broad authority to host contests to spur innovation. In How Contests Spur Innovation, Inventors Daily reported, at the time, that this signature event was critical to invention and economic development in America.

“In short,” Inventors Daily wrote, ” invention contests and prizes work. In fact, when applied to big problems, contests can deliver big solutions with big economic impact.

“…The Act provides a “clear and simple legal path” for Uncle Sam to run invention contests, much like the private sector. The U.S. public sector, it should be noted, accounts for approximately 25% of our $15 trillion economy.”

From America Competes was born Challenge.gov , “an online challenge platform administered by the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) in partnership with ChallengePost that empowers the U.S. Government and the public to bring the best ideas and top talent to bear on our nation’s most pressing challenges.”

So if you like making stuff – mechanical stuff, 3D stuff, coded stuff, design stuff – there’s no shortage of federal and private industry nationwide competitions to in which to try your hand and your head.  If the incentive of a cause, or a prize are your best inspiration, start with  Challenge.gov and Challenge Post.

And there’s plenty of other resources.

Visit back here often for announcements about contests both local and national that we learn about throughout the year.   And share your news about contests, both entered in and hosted! We’d love to feature your stories and photos!

Brand vs. Heart

7 Jul

making stuffOur move towards becoming an independent DIY festival and community network has triggered some interesting discussions among friends and associates.  Some have expressed concern about the ability to build and support our growing maker community without the name brand behind it.  Others have applauded our DIY initiative.

An interesting piece ran in Big Think today about the perceived value of “brands.”

“How important is brand name recognition?” columnist Jack Myers asks. ” It’s extremely important to establish a link, a connection through whatever process, through social media, through marketing, through in store presence, but in the long term I think it’s more important what’s on the inside than what’s on the outside of a product.”

He goes on to suggest that for those growing up with the internet “a person’s color, a person’s gender, a person’s beliefs, religious beliefs for example, are far less important than their beliefs as human beings, their attitudes toward human equality, their attitudes towards diversity, their attitudes toward giving back to the world, to their schools, to each other.  So the branding, the external packaging is far less important to them than what is inside, whether that’s another human being or a package of cereal …”

Or, we’ll add, ” an event. “

Because when you get right down to it, the picture above from the Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire could have been taken anywhere – a science festival, a family fun day, an engineering expo.   Sometimes brand is important – especially if you’re trying to sell something tangible like magazines or products.   If you’re a maker, creator, entrepreneur you want your brand to pop, to stand out, to be sought after – but even then, at the heart of your brand is – heart – what you put into it to make it special, why you believe it’s unique or useful or necessary.

And if what you’re selling – giving away, in this case – is an idea - and that idea is about a collaborative community that supports DIY self-reliance and self-sufficiency, about empowering people  to develop the knowledge and skills they want and need to make whatever it is they want to make, to be creative and successful self-starters,  then brand is irrelevant.  It’s the idea that’s valuable, and being free of the limitations of a brand allows the full expression of that idea.

Free of a brand, we can talk about all kinds of magazines and products, honestly assess things on their own merits, and  freely celebrate in the truest DIY spirit of independent, self-reliant, unfettered creativity and fun!

St. Petersburg Science Festival – October 18 & 19

3 Jul

spsfPlanning is underway for the 3rd Annual St. Petersburg Science Festival, a regional celebration where families and the public can explore the wonders of hands-on science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). LI4E.org is one of many great collaborative partners of  the 2013 festival that will be held on October 18-19, 2013, along the waterfront campus of the University of South Florida St. Petersburg. The event is held in conjunction with MarineQuest, the annual open house of the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission’s Fish and Wildlife Research Institute.

Sneak Peek School Festival

For teachers and students in Grades 4-8, the St. Petersburg Science Festival is proud to debut our Sneak Peek School Festival on Friday, October 18, 2013.

Public Festival

science in the sun

Science in the Sun at the St. Pete Science Festival

With many new exciting activities and shows planned for our public festival on Saturday, October 19, 2013, together with the unique flavor of marine science that can only be found in St. Petersburg, Florida, the 3rd Annual St. Petersburg Science festival will be our biggest and best yet!

Look for early news about new exhibits and exciting shows on our Facebook page and follow us on Twitter.

Why a science festival?

robotScience is vital for even the most basic aspects of modern society. Every day, each one of us benefits from scientific knowledge through the food we eat, the air we breathe, and the water we drink. Science and technology power our world, protect us from natural disasters, improve our health, and entertain us.

The inspiring science happening throughout our region has been and will continue to be the star, front and center, of this vibrant celebration of hands-on activities for children and adults with emphasis on STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning.

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