Tag Archives: educational fairs

Meet the Maker: Pamela French, of Pami Pocket

3 Apr

Pami at Spark n Hustle

Pamela French is one of our great commercial makers,  bringing her creation, “Pami Pocket ” to Gulf Coast MakerCon.   She’s also Vice
President of the Tampa Bay Inventor’s Council, one of our event partners, heading up our Inventors Showcase.  We asked her to tell us about herself and her product.

GCMC: What do you Make?

PF: A handy little neoprene cell phone holder for women called the “Pami Pocket”

GCMC: What got you interested in your product?

PF: I constantly found myself without pockets to hold my cell phone, but I always needed to have it on mePamiPocket. I thought there had to be a better way, but after I couldn’t find anything after searching in stores everywhere I decided to create it myself. My husband and I are the owners of an automotive upholstery shop so he sewed up the first Pami Pocket prototype in our backyard garage.

GCMC: What do you think makes it different from other similar products?

PF: Pami Pocket is different because it has a long, thin strap that can be worn across the body or around the neck. It’s made of neoprene so it’s water-resistant and Pami Pocket is so lightweight and soft, you’ll forget you even have it on. Pami Pockets are not just functional, they’re fashionable! They come in a variety of colors and rhinestone designs to choose from or you can get your own company or team logo design on a Pami Pocket!

GCMC: What are you bringing to MakerCon?

I hope sharing my experience and the things that did and didn’t work for me will help others who want to become inventors or “makers”. Of course I’ll be bringing the entire Pami Pocket line and am looking forward to sharing my handy product!

GCMC: What do you hope to take from MakerCon?

I’m expecting to have a great time meeting new people, networking and getting exposure for my product. I can’t wait to see all the other maker’s creative ideas and maybe even sell a few Pami Pockets along the way!

GCMC: Why do you think an event like MakerCon is important?

PF: MakerCon is one of the best ways to put yourself out there and share what you love. This is the perfect opportunity to meet other creative people and get inspired.

GCMC: Anything else you’d like to add?

I was just a mom working in the backyard when I came up with the Pami Pocket idea. I had no idea what to do, but by joining my local inventor’s club, I was able to learn and move forward much faster. I now have my product in boutiques and beach shops, and even a few local Walgreens and now am the Vice President of my local inventor’s club, the Tampa Bay Inventor’s Council!

Come see Pam French and her great Pami Pocket creations at Gulf Coast MakerCon this weekend! Discount tickets, good for the whole weekend, are available through April 4th.

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Meet the Maker & Gulf Coast MakerCon Sponsor: Gabriel Anzziani, of Gabotronics

28 Mar

GabotronicsWe welcome Gabriel Anzziani, of Gabotronics, back to our Annual DIY Festival of the Inventive Spirit for a third year in a row, and this year, as well, with gratitude to Gabotronics as a Gulf Coast MakerCon Sponsor.

Gabriel Anzziani, founded Gabotronics in 2009 and has been moving full steam ahead every since!  We first made

gabotronics

Gabriel Anzziani, at our 2nd annual maker festival in 2012

his acquaintance two years ago, when he attended our inaugural Tampa Mini Maker Faire in 2012.  His remarkable and remarkably tiny, oscilloscopes  captured everyone’s interest in 2012, and since then, he’s expanded his line of products to a dizzying array of embedded systems and custom electronic designs, and now he’s a regular on the Maker Fair circuit.

 Gabriel is also a Kickstarter whiz, successfully funding at least three campaigns, for the Xprotolab Portable and the Xminilab Portable, and most recently his Oscilloscope Watch, which had a goal of $60,000 and closed out at almost $70,000.

Gabriel will have a great selection of his awesome products available for sale at Gulf Coast MakerCon April 5 & 6.

About Gabotronics

Gabotronics is based in Lakewood Ranch, FL, specializes in design and manufacture embedded systems, a direct outgrowth of founder Gabriel’s lifelong interest in electronics. Gabriel remembers disassembling RC cars, and building fans with the motors; creating door alarms from dial phone parts; and getting shocked when playing with relays, and always imagined having his own company called Gabotronics. He got his bachelor’s degree in Electronics Engineering at Simon Bolívar University in Venezuela in 2003. Gabotronics was formally founded on 2009.

“I really enjoy designing, inventing, making,” says Gabriel. “When I receive feedback from my customers saying that my products are awesome, it makes all the hard work worthwhile.”

Many thanks, Gabotronics, for supporting Gulf Coast MakerCon 2014!

Meet the Science Makers: Sarasota Scientific Instruments

25 Mar

color tubes ssi

Gulf Coast MakerCon is an Affiliate Event of the USA Science & Engineering Festival, and we’re proud to help take our place among events all over the country working together to re-invigorate the interest of our nation’s youth in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) through engaging hands on learning.   Among our great participants at this year’s DIY Celebration of the Inventive Spirit is Sarasota Scientific Instruments (SSI), a nonprofit organization supporting science education across Tampa Bay.

We talked to Jennifer Holt – Queen of Discovery (aka Director of Programs & Education) at SSI, who told us more about this great organization.

GCMC : Tell us about SSI – what it is, what it does, and why it does what it does.

JH: Sarasota Scientific Instruments (SSI) is a non-profit organization that provides opportunities for hands-on exploration in science, technology, engineering and math. SSI began in Imagine schools palmer ranch 22006 in Pinellas county with a program called the Science Lending Library. The science lending library allows teachers to borrow equipment and kits needed for hands-on science exploration and experimentation in the classroom. Through the years Sarasota Scientific Instruments has partnered with many different organizations to facilitate lending of science equipment to teachers in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota and Manatee counties. Today, SSI not only provides equipment for borrowing to the four counties, but has also branched out to include educational outreach. SSI is also working to secure a location for a fabrication laboratory which will be open to schools and the general public for Sarasota and Manatee counties.

Sarasota Scientific Instruments and the science lending library program is supported by the Faulhaber Foundation. The Faulhabers, who are both engineers, are passionate about providing hands-on science experiences and have worked to fill the need to bring those vital learning experiences into the classroom. After all, how can you fully understand science concepts until you have the opportunity to apply them and actually experience how they work?

Imagine schools palmer ranch 1GCMC:  Can anyone use the Science Lending Library?  What’s it cost?

SSI’s Science Lending Library program is free to teachers in Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, and Manatee counties. Sarasota Scientific Instruments’ educational outreach and festival programs are available for schools, community festivals, school science nights, or any other special events for a fee depending on the program type and length. Please visit our website at www.sarasotascience.org for outreach program offerings and costs.

GCMC: What will MakerCon guests be able to see or do at the SSI booth?

At the Sarasota Scientific Instruments booth, guests will be able to browse through the selection of equipment available to teachers for borrowing through the Pinellas/Hillsborough branch. Guests will also get to try out a few of the science tools from the science library.

Please make sure to visit the SSI Faulhaber Fab Lab in the Makerspace Makers Corner, as well,  to see the exciting lab being established in Sarasota.

 

Guest Blog: Show & Tell Isn’t Just for MakerCon

24 Mar

chuck stephensLI4E Volunteer and Maker of all Trades, Chuck Stephens, shares his thoughts on the power of sharing.
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Have you ever heard of Luigi da Vinci? Luigi was a brilliant maker during the Italian Renaissance. He spent all day building models and perfecting his ideas. He was a happy man doing whatever he wanted and exploring his curiosity. One day he’d play with his model flying machines and the next day he’d imagine new buildings or study the nature of living things. He was content to pursue his passions and the world left him to it. He mostly kept to himself but once in a while he liked to share a wineskin with his neighbor Leonardo the artist, and they would spend a nice evening talking about Luigi’s toys while Leonardo sketched amusing pictures. “

“Ah , Leonardo,” Luigi would tease. “You live your life in pictures. Men are remembered for doing, not dreaming! I build machines that fly while you sit and doodle them on parchment. What legacy is that?”

At these times the artist would smile slyly and offer Luigi another drink and soon he was off on another wild demonstration while Leonardo scribbled away.

You’ve heard of Luigi da Vinci, right? He was a genius!

To do is to be- to document is to be heard

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Familab sharing at LI4Es 2013 maker festival.


How is a maker different from a hobbyist? I’ve had a few lively debates about this in various forums and I think it boils down to communication- makers love to share their work and knowledge. Makers don’t read Popular Mechanics and write letters to the editor- they read tech web sites and leave comments that other readers can comment on. Makers don’t just use gadgets- they hack and modify them and then go on their blogs and tell others how to do it. While a hobbyist can enjoy their craft in isolation, a maker has a need to share what they do and how they do it. Openness and sharing are at the core of the maker movement.

Much like academia, in the maker community it’s ‘Publish or perish‘. The growth of the maker movement was fertilized with millions of blog posts, Instructables, Youtube videos, comment threads and Tweets. The internet allows enthusiasts to become ambassadors. I’ve learned everything I know about electronics from Forrest Mims’s Basic Electronics book and the internet. No matter what problems I encountered or questions I had, the answers were just a few mouse clicks away. I was able to learn everything I wanted at my own pace.

Most important- I stayed interested. I got exactly what I wanted out of electronics when I wanted it thanks to thousands of other hobbyists who took the time to post a video or answer a question on a message board. Through this easy access to shared information makers become self replicating. User created resources inspire new users who create their own resources- rinse and repeat. By documenting our work we help others become makers.

OK I’ll confess- I’m the worst! I hate to break my work flow with camera work or blog posts. Stopping to set up a camera and tripod takes time that could be spent learning and building. Even as I’m writing this article I’m thinking that the four channel mixer I’ve been working on for my lunetta synthesizer isn’t building itself. When I finish a project I’m already thinking about my next one so I rarely stop to shoot a video. I rarely even get good photographs of my projects- I just play with them and then go build new stuff.

Even when the video or photos get shot the job’s not done. At the least it needs to be trimmed and edited. You may want to add graphics and titles, animations, music or voice-overs. It may need to be reformatted to load quickly on Vimeo or Youtube. You’ll also want to write a description and add the right tags so folks can find it. In the end picking up my soldering iron and starting the next project seems like a lot less hassle.

A New (Maker) Year’s resolution

In the last couple of years, Tampa Bay Mini Maker Faire, now Gulf Coast MakerCon, has become the focus of my year, project-wise. Everything falls into two categories- things to get done before MakerCon and things that I can’t start until after MakerCon. Since it has become the bookends of my year, maybe a New (Maker) Year’s resolution is in order. Mine is to better document my work.

This happens to coincide with the start of Hackaday’s new Projects page.  I signed up and started a page there but I really need to change my approach to documentation. I want to focus on video since my projects are mostly sound based. As usual I went to the internet to see what others were doing. People make instructional videos on how to make instructional videos- now that’s meta. After a few hours of good and bad advice, I found my game plan for documenting my work. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you set out to document your projects with video.

Plan your work and work your plan

overlap project notes 2Planning is the key. Figure out what you want to say and show before you start recording. It can be as simple as an outline that covers your key points or a full script- whatever works for you. Also plan the visual aspect of your video. Is there good lighting? Can the camera ‘see’ you? If you need to move or change positions can you do so without blocking the shot? If your dealing with lots of steps or movements in your video it may help to create a simple story board, a comic book-like set of sketches planning out key scenes, movements and actions. You can download story board templates from Incompetech here http://incompetech.com/graphpaper/storyboard/ Planning and visualizing your video project will help you see problems and solve them before your cameras are rolling. When I’ve made videos in the past I’ve found that hand written cue cards and a plan for the shot save me a lot of time and frustration. Planning your steps will also help you insure that you have all necessary materials handy when you need them.

Make it easy for yourself

After you have your video planned out it’s time to start filming. In my house this is always a daunting task. My workbench is in the living room so things need to be rearranged a little to make room for a tripod and lights. Since my bench is along a wall it’s hard to get a good camera angle. The best way to avoid these hassles is to plan your work space with video in mind. Avoid tripods and design camera mounts into your workbench. Action cameras like the GoPro with lots of mounting options are great for this. It can also be as simple as using squares of adhesive Velcro with a cheap webcam.

instructional video

Chuck’s instructional video on how he made a drumbot.

While it’s possible to shoot a simple video in one single take, it can get a little boring and it increases the chance of flubbed lines.. Using two cameras, or even one camera with two separate mounting spots, can make your video much better. Use a wide shot when you are talking and explaining things and a close up to show details. If you do moving shots look into making a DIY steadicam set up to make your camera movements smoother. Watch TV with an eye towards the technical details. Observe how the way something is shot makes it more interesting.

I’ve decided to use an old Manfrotto lighting clamp modified to accept a standard camera mount for my main camera. It mounts easily to my bookshelf and gives a nice long shot along the bench. I also have a small webcam with Velcro for closer angles and a custom mount for my tablet for overhead close ups of my workbench. These are all things I had laying around.

Use a similar approach to lighting. Good lighting will make a cheap camera look better. Flea markets and yard sales are a good source for lighting fixtures and lamps. The main thing to keep in mind is to provide even lighting. Avoid a single bright light as this will cause bright glare and dark shadows. Use several softer lights for better illumination from many angles. Keep your work area well lit and you will always be ready to shoot a video. I have two angle-poise desk lamps mounted on my workbench as well as a couple of small fluorescent tubes. I also use a rechargable LED flashlight with a diffuser for a detail spotlight.

The main thing to keep in mind is that the easier it is to shoot your video the more likely you will be to shoot a video. Having your camera mounts and lights in place all the time makes it much easier.

Don’t forget the audio

how to video

FTC Team Duct Tape students offer a nice little instructional video for FIRST teams.


Great video quality is no good if the audience can’t hear what you’re saying. Keep the audio in mind in your early planning stages. When you’re ready to shoot turn off the A/C or fans. If you live near traffic or playing children, close the windows. Most cameras have a built in microphone. This is fine, but if you are shooting in a noisy environment try using an external microphone or an inexpensive clip-on lavalier mic. If your demo is really loud you can always do a separate voice over later. I have a small collection of microphones and a couple of digital audio recorders but I usually just use the mics on my cameras. Think about adding some music or sound effects. Keep in mind that using music that you don’t have permission to use may get your video pulled by Youtube or Vimeo. Use royalty free music or create your own with Garage Band, Fruity Loops or similar software.

Putting it all together

video editing

Ryder, with FTC Team Duct Tape, prefers full featured editing software, but Movie Maker will do for basic needs.


The final step is editing. Editing allows you to combine video and audio clips to create your final video. You can also add titles, video and audio effects and transitions that add variety to the way one clip fades into another clip. There are plenty of free video editing programs out there, and new ones pop up all the time. Do a little research and find one that fits your needs. There are many video editing tutorials out there that will teach you the basics of your chosen program. Don’t go overboard with the effects and transitions- the information you are presenting should always be the focus. I use Windows Movie Maker and a shareware video format converter. I’ve used expensive, feature packed software in the past, but this does everything I need and it came installed on my laptop.

When you see a video you like, make a mental note about what made it interesting. Was it well written? Was the camera work smooth and clear? Were there interesting extras like graphics, titles or music? Was the presenter enthusiastic and engaging?

Don’t be afraid to learn from others and borrow from other peoples successes. That’s what being a maker is all about.

Keep it simple

The most important thing is to keep it simple. Relax- you’re just talking to some friends, not going out for an Academy Award. Just be yourself and have confidence. Don’t rely too heavily on fancy effects. A clearly presented video done in one shot without titles or effects is better than a video with so much music and graphics that it distracts from the subject. Keep your budget simple, too. A well planned, well lit video shot on a low end camera will be much better than a disorganized, shadowy mess shot in HD. If you don’t have space or decent lighting in your home, go outside. If you don’t own a camera check with your friends, local library or makerspace to see if they have equipment you can use. Work with what you have, but just do it. Learn by doing and experimenting- you can always shoot it again.

Sharing is an important part of making. Chances are you have learned a lot from others around you. Documenting your work is a great way to pay it forward and inspire someone else to try their hand at making something. Makers make makers!

Do your part or you’ll end up like Luigi da Vinci.

Remember him?

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

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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.

Meet the Robot Makers!

8 Mar

Robots are a big part of any maker event, and Gulf Coast MakerCon is no exception.  We’ll have a variety of robots on hand – bouncing balls, flinging frisbees, butlering and battling to the (near) death, a grand kick off for National Robotics Week, and just plain old fun for our 3rd Annual Celebration of the DIY Inventive  Spirit!

BAMThe USF Robotics Interest Group is hosting B.A.M.  - Battle at MakerCon – at GCMC.  The USF- Robotics Interest Group (RIG) focuses on sharing knowledge about designing and building robotic devices, promoting robotics at USF, and representing USF in robotics competitions. One of our major focuses is on combat robotics. Popularized by the TV show Battlebots, combat robotics involves a competition where two robots enter an enclosed arena, and fight for a set period of time or until one of the robots has been disabled. Through designing and working on these robots, students learn the principles of design, manufacturing, and programming. RIG will be hosting NRL (National Robotics League) 15 lb and under class fighting robotics competitions at Gulf Coast MakerCon, similar to the video.

Lego mindstorms nxt CNC-FräseThe Fun with Bots group will feature a variety of LEGO Mindstorms projects courtesy of the youth Lutz Robotics Club, who is also building a LEGO CNC lathe (who knew right?!)  that they’ll be fwblogodemonstrating.

And we’ll have a veritable army of FIRST robots, including FIRST LEGO League, FIRST Tech Challenge and FIRST Robotics Competition teams , with student built robots guests can learn about and drive, like the robots 

FIRST in FL logoyou’ll see in the video below from LI4E’s ROBOCON Tampa Bay event back in October.

So if you like robots, Gulf Coast Maker Con’s the place to be April 5th & 6th!

Advanced, discounted tickets are on sale now!

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Happy Holidays from Gulf Coast Makers!

24 Dec

Holiday greeting

Gulf Coast MakerCon Early Bird Tickets Now on Sale!

19 Dec

Take advantage of our Early Bird ticket sales for Gulf Coast MakerCon, and get admission for the full weekend at half the rate of a one day pass, paid the day of, at the gate! Early Bird tickets will be on sale now through Feb. 28th.

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Click here to Buy Tickets!

Interested in being a Maker? Click the button!apply button

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!

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