Category Archives: Field Trips

Maker Faires and the BIYSL

The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

This month I’ll be traveling to Maker Faires in Portland, Oregon, and New York City to sign and talk about my book, The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory. That, of course, is the new, updated version of Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory, the classic 1960’s hands-on science book by Raymond E. Barrett.

The Portland Mini Maker Faire is being held September 12-13 at OMSI, the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry. I’ll be speaking on the Innovation stage at 11 AM on September 12. This is a bit of a homecoming for the book: Raymond Barrett was the Education Director at OMSI when he originally wrote the book.

The World Maker Faire is September 26 and 27 at the New York Hall of Science in Queens, New York. I’ll be speaking on the DIY stage on both days.

Bonus: During O’Reilly’s Back to School sale (through September 17), you can get the E-book version of The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory for 50% off using discount code B2S5.

Geek Tourism: Biosphere 2

Biosphere2-1

Biosphere 2 is an enormous earth science laboratory, originally built as an attempt to create a closed ecosystem. The goals were to study long term viability of an isolated human habitat, such as might be needed for long term space travel or colonization.

Biosphere2-17

The results of the initial experiments were a (fascinating) mixed bag. The goal of a strictly closed ecosystem was not met for a variety of reasons. However, some of the results have improved our understanding of the effects of climate change, such as how increased CO2 levels lead to acidification of the ocean habitat and coral bleaching.

Biosphere2-3

The facility is now being used both for education and for research. The enormous agricultural greenhouses have been transformed by the University of Arizona into the Landscape Evolutionary Observatory, a large-scale carefully-controlled long-term study of soil processes. It serves as an experimental bridge between computer models, small-scale laboratory experiments, and the real world.

Biosphere2-13

Some of the original biomes are relatively unchanged and have been growing since the project started in 1991. It is striking to have all hint of surrounding desert obscured by the vines of the rainforest.

Biosphere2-20

One of the most fascinating engineering aspects of the facility are the “lungs,” which are accessed through long narrow tunnels branching off of the main facility.

Biosphere2-22

The lungs were used to compensate for the changes in pressure and temperature. The two domed buildings have flexible inner liners that can expand and contract. A weight attached to the center of the liner makes them look toroidal inside of the dome.

Biosphere 2

The facility was built outside of Tucson, and is strikingly beautiful, surrounded by wildlife including lizards, snakes, tarantulas, jack rabbits, coyotes, gila monsters, and an incredible variety of birds and insects. We’ve put a few more pictures from our visit in albums on flickr here and here. Tours are available to the public daily, and it’s worth the drive and ticket price if you’re nearby.

STEAM Fest 2015

I took a heap of pictures at the 2nd annual Silicon Valley STEAM Festival at the Reid Hillview Airport in San Jose today. This event brings out an eclectic mix of hobbyists, scientists, and enthusiasts showing off what they do. Below are a few of my favorite moments.

RC planes

The local RC aircraft enthusiasts not only displayed their aircraft, but also put on an airshow. They also fly at Baylands Park, and encouraged coming to see them on Sundays.

Huey

Vintage aircraft flew in to be displayed.

Leopard shark

Local science institutions brought their mobile displays, including leopard sharks from the Marine Science Institute.

Firebots outreach

Robotics teams, (including our very own Firebots) were demonstrating their robots in the midst of cars on display. You can find more robots, aircraft, automobiles and sharks in my album here.

Super Awesome Reporting on RoboGames

Super Awesome Sylvia has posted a video report from this year’s RoboGames. Highlights include a couple of combat matches, one of Sylvia’s LEGO competitions, WaterColorBot receiving a medal, and Sylvia completely geeking out after Grant Imahara interviewed her in the audience. (For extra fun, watch the raw footage of the interview from RoboGames.) Our STEAM shirt makes a cameo, too.

The Tenth Bay Area Maker Faire

10 years of Maker Faire Panel

The 10th Bay Area Maker Faire was absolutely awesome. We reconnected with old friends, made new ones, and talked a whole lot. Above, my panelists talking about the past ten years of Maker Faire. Below, Windell talking about his new book, The Annotated Build It Yourself Science Laboratory. We saw many amazing things, some of which we captured with our camera sensor and have posted in a flickr album here.

Build-it-Yourself Science Laboratory

MakerCon 2015

MakerCon is a short conference put on by Maker Media in the week leading up to Maker Faire about the business of making.

Gael with InMoov

3D printing is a common maker topic, and MakerCon brought a few different twists to it. Above is Gael demonstrating InMoov, an open source 3D printed humanoid robot. There was also an incredibly inspiring talk about applications for medical 3D printing by Dr. Glenn Green.

Gigabot print

3D printing can be whimsical as well, as demonstrated by this “25 mm” drill bit by Gigabot.

Strawbees

The folks from Strawbees had built a quadcopter rotor cage with a clever servo actuator for flapping sculptural wings.

Clever flex design

I enjoyed seeing this attractive laser cut living hinge at the BotFactory demo.

Rogue Rover

Rogue Rovers are electric semi-autonomous ATVs designed for agricultural use to reduce farm injuries and pollution.

More pictures from the event are in my flickr album.

The books are in!

Build It Yourself Science Laboratory

The Annotated Build-It-Yourself Science Laboratory has arrived! We’ve got them in stock and are now offering signed copies at our store, too!

“Would you like to know more?” I’ll be speaking about the book at Maker Faire this weekend, on the DIY stage. Scheduled times are Friday at 2:30pm, Saturday at 10:30am, and Sunday at 4pm.

Maker Faire Panel: 10 Years of Maker Faire

Maker Faire 2008
EepyBird at Maker Faire 2008 by Skip Russell

I am extremely excited that I’ll be  at Maker Faire moderating the panel Looking Back at Maker Faire on Sunday, May 17 at 11 am on Center Stage.

My panelists include long-time Maker Faire stars:

Maker Faire 2010
Mark Frauenfelder at Maker Faire 2010 by Kent K. Barnes

This year’s program guide (pdf) with event highlights is now available for download. For fun and to get in the spirit of my panel, check out Make’s post about the program guide from the very first Maker Faire!

Maker Faire Bay Area 2011: Super Awesome Sylvia
Super Awesome Sylvia at Maker Faire 2011 by Steve Hoefer

RoboGames Wrap-up

Eggs decorated by the EggBot at RoboGames
Photo by Jim St. Leger

We had a great time at RoboGames demonstrating the EggBot over Easter weekend. Thanks to the contestants in both Combat and Bartending Art Bots categories that we were privileged to judge.

Erin
Photo by Jim St. Leger

Congratulations to our friend RobotGrrl, who took home a gold medal in the Best of Show category.

Schuyler and Roger show off the RoboGames logo as drawn by the WaterColorBot
Photo by Jim St. Leger

Congratulations also to our collaborators on the WaterColorBot project, Schuyler and Roger who won gold in Art Bots in the Painting category.