Author Archives: mikehinkle

Are You Ready For This? Volunteer At The World’s Largest Robotics Championship

Confetti_shotFIRST® Robotics is the oldest and largest robotics education program in the world — and it is celebrating its 25th anniversary by bringing its Championship to Houston. The event happens April 19-22, 2017 and it’s so huge it will fill all of the GRB — plus Minute Maid Park! This roboticsfirstcompetitionevent is a deep dive into STEM education as high-challenge, high-energy, high-impact inspirational fun! Don’t expect something simple, quiet and sedate here; rather, this is fully-engaging chaotic high-speed enthusiastic “sport for the mind”. If you want to see how education programs can inspire and build the FRC crowdleaders of the future, we can think of no better example than FIRST Robotics. We encourage everyone to attend, especially families and educators (bonus: attendance is free, and there are many other interesting things here too in addition to robotics!)

The best way to get the full experience of this dynamic event is to volunteer. Roles are available for a few hours, a full day — and even the full event. Thousands of volunteers are needed to support an event of this scale, and technical knowledge is not required (but can be useful in certain roles, so let them know when you register). Please make arrangements to spend some time as a volunteer at the event — you’ll be helping K-12 students from all around the world. But you’ll benefit too — inspiration is infectious around all this creative energy and enthusiasm!

To volunteer: please review this brief page and click on the VIMS link in the “HOW TO APPLY FOR A VOLUNTEER ROLE” section. (FIRST is a 501(c)(3) non profit charity.) Even better, volunteer at the FIRST Championship, plus one or more of the local events detailed below.

Building The Future, One Robot At A Time

20160728_130814Do you hear those tools busily working away? That’s 100’s of local teams building their robots, getting ready for competition  events coming very soon. Do you feel that excitement in the air? That’s 1,000’s of local students participating in those projects, getting energized about the future as they learn from their own experiences the great power of imagination and engineering.

These robotics education programs are literally building innovators, engineers and leaders of the future. Might you be able to provide a few hours of volunteer support to help? The great thing about this volunteer opportunity is that you’ll actually benefit the most as you come away energized and inspired by what you see and learn at the event! Most of the volunteer roles don’t require any technical or engineering knowledge — just a willingness to help. But if you have deep technical skills, there’s a need for that too. Either way there are many  opportunities and it’s a great way to spend part or all of a day. And this will be a “game-changing” year for educational robotics competitions in Houston — more about that in an upcoming post — so it’s a great time to get involved.

Here’s an overview of upcoming events with volunteer opportunities — please look into them and register to help as a volunteer:

The students, teachers and mentors working in these teams appreciate your time and support!

It’s A Wrap! Our 2016 Highlights

mmh-i-make-rgbThanks again to all the makers, exhibitors and attendees who helped us make Houston Mini Maker Faire 2016 an amazing event! Please check out these posts for selected highlights (sorry, but there were so many things going on we can only talk about a few of them here). Stay tuned for more info and insights into the future of the Maker Movement in Houston!

Our Winning Line-Up at Houston Mini Maker Faire

dsc_2731We believe the future belongs to those who learn, create and innovate. The amazing thing is they’ll have incredible fun in the process! The Innovation Spark team has spent the last 12 months putting together the best possible examples of information and inspiration to help BuyTicksHouston build that future we all aspire to — click on the links below see what’s in store for you at Maker Faire (the event happens Sat & Sun, 11/12-13 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Hall A):

The Power of Innovation at Maker Faire

mmh-i-make-rgbWhen’s a good time to start innovating? Now! Who can be an innovator? You! Where’s a good place to get started innovating? A local makerspace! You’ve probably noticed that technology has become both very powerful and highly empowering. Using your creativity and this powerful technology, YOU can become one of the world’s leading innovators! And a great place to get started is a local makerspace, with experience, resources, tools and — especially — community to help you take those first steps into uncharted territory. Check out this blog now, then come learn about the amazing vibrant growing makerspace scene around Houston at Houston Mini Maker Faire (@ GRB 11/12-13) — then start planning how to realize your most creative ideas….

Exhibitor Info Meeting: Wed, Oct 26

2014052520209We invite all exhibitors who have already registered to participate in Houston Mini Maker Faire 2016, or are thinking about doing so, to attend the planning and information session from 6:00 pm – 8:00 pm at the Children’s Museum of Houston (1500 Binz St, Houston). People planning to help as Maker Faire volunteers are invited too. Click here to get more information about this meeting.

Creativity Is Fun!

20161003_133517One of the reasons we all enjoy creativity is it can be so much fun! And no one knows that better than makers who use creativity to express themselves through artistry, Cosplay, Scifi and Fantasy. Some of these projects are simple, but some are very complex and use a lot of advanced technology. This BuyTicksyear Houston Mini Maker Faire (Sat & Sun, 11/12-13 @ GRB Hall A) will have more cosplay exhibits than ever before, and several learning 20141005_134405 (small)sessions where you can gain knowledge about how to do projects yourself. Click here for more information about the planned exhibits on the theme of Cosplay, Scifi and Fantasy.

Discount tickets are available online (click on the “Buy Tickets” button) but are ending soon — enter discount code Max2 at the “Enter promotional code” link for half-off on the ticketing web page.

Building The Future Of STEM Education

20150523_101006We can all imagine a world in the future full of technical marvels and improvements to quality of life. But who will design and build that future? Preparing our youth to be the creators of that amazing future is the focus of many education strategies, including STEM, STEAM, computational thinking / technical literacy, and makerspace education. Clearly there’s a lot going on in education today! That’s why we focus on important elements of STEM and STEAM education each year, and offer Houston Mini Maker Faire as the best showcase of makerspace education available in Texas. Read the full blog on this topic here to gain deeper insight into our plans for Maker Faire.

dsc_2907Think of Maker Faire as a smorgasbord or buffet, full of interesting options and choices. The information and experiences at Houston Mini Maker Faire can give you better insight into what to invest your valuable time and money into, to achieve your objectives for education. This is useful both for parents who are confronted with so many options for kits, after-school classes, camps and so on — and for teachers, librarians and administrators trying to make informed decisions about how to best set up a makerspace or similar at their facility, and what programs and experiences to use to increase the impact of STEM education.

dsc_2779And what’s really impressive about Houston Mini Maker Faire is the scale and variety of exhibits (read the full blog to get insights into the many new topic areas planned for this year’s event!) In many cases you can try the examples out, right at Maker Faire! Another thing that’s very unique about Maker Faire is that it’s more about showing and sharing than selling. You don’t have to worry about being pursued by vendors; instead, in most cases, you can talk directly with the expert — the person who actually did the work — right there at the event! And of course, Houston Mini Maker Faire is about much more than STEM education — you could easily find great highly-useful ideas built by an artist or innovator who wasn’t even thinking about education impact at the time! So put your “explorer hat” on and come out and see how all these bright minds have put together examples of creativity, education and inspiration!

Buzz!

mmh-i-make-rgbSo many exciting and new things are in the works for Houston Mini Maker Faire 2016! We’ve begun our coverage of exhibit content on the Event Info tab — check it out and check back often to see the storyline unfold. This is a truly “buzz-worthy” event about creativity and innovation in Houston — the kind you’ll say “oh wow — I wish I’d been there” if you miss it. So plan now to attend on 11/12-13 at the GRB in downtown Houston, and get advance purchase discounts on your tickets while they’re still available — we’re smiley-facedoing everything we can to avoid an epidemic of forehead-slapping the day after Maker Faire in Houston!

Our “Power Play”: Building For Houston’s Future At Maker Faire

BuyTicksWe’re so pleased with how the Houston Mini Maker Faire (11/12-13 @ GRB) is shaping up — it’s going to be so — GOOD! This event is dedicated to the concept that (1) learning is a basic human need and is good for people of all ages; (2) being creative with our imagination, gifts and skills is one of the most fulfilling things humans can do; and (3) and “making” (building) our creations helps both ourselves and the community.

hacking-eduThis is our 4th annual event, and we’re using the theme “Power Up Houston!” to take a big step forward in awareness and impact throughout the Greater Houston Area. The Houston Mini Maker Faire will be full of interesting and important things to learn and do, covering such a wide range of topics that we simply can’t describe them all here (but check back regularly here, in the Event Info and About sections, and on Facebook for updates about our exhibits). We’re gearing up for 10,000 attendees with over 200 exhibits over 2 days! And our strategic goal is to attract more than 25,000 annually to Houston Maker Faire by 2020 — come be part of this growth story! There are things here for everyone — ranging from kids to seniors, and artists to engineers.

hcc-sharesThis is the Maker Movement’s exhibition for Houston. The Maker Movement is positive and constructive, and it’s already had significant impact (learn more about that here).  It’s changing education, corporate waterafrica1innovation and development methodologies, entertainment, startup businesses, medicine and many more fields. And at this year’s Houston Mini Maker Faire, we have large exhibits dedicated to innovation, reducing the barriers to tech and business startups to foster more entrepreneurs, getting inventions and products to market, and showing how creative mindsets can be leveraged now to solve real-world community challenges!

But it can be just for fun too — one of the best things about making is it’s what you want it to be, as long as you’re active, creative and constructive! Perhaps the most important point is — making, and therefore Maker Faire — is for everyone. And yes, it’s GOOD for you! Come join us at the GRB on 11/12-13.