Category Archives: Engineering

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!

Students — Get Into The IDEAS Pitch Competition!

ideas-mainWe’re growing Houston Mini Maker Faire into important new areas this year — including a pitch competition to demonstrate how ideas can be developed from inspiration to reality! As a collaboration between Houston Community College (HCC) and Innovation Spark (the local Maker Faire organizer), the IDEAS Pitch Competition invites all students of high school age or older to explore and propose innovative approaches to answering pressing sustainability and societal needs.

Do you have ideas to make Houston and the world a better place that you’ve been wanting to act on? Perhaps as a business, a charitable activity, or a product or service? But you’d like some help to make them happen, perhaps mentoring, coaching, or a reality-check with the marketplace? Then this is the event for you! You’ll be amazed at what you can achieve with this kind of support — and there are some great prizes too! So we invite you to get involved — the first session happens on 10/22.

hcc_tech_fairesEach of the 3 build-up events will be informative and inspirational, including Tech Faires with plenty to learn. They’re also a great way to visit HCC campuses around Houston to see how this local college is building for the future. We recommend attendance and participation in all of them — and they’re all free to attend! Get involved and show the “Power of Houston”!

Power Up! Houston

dsc_2981Houston is the city of “Can Do”, full of inventors, engineers and ideas! But getting an idea from the drawing board to the market can be a daunting task. To break through these challenges and help the Houston community build the future, we’re introducing a new exhibit to Maker Faire: the “Power Up! Houston” Pavilion! This centralized exhibit will bring together suppliers and manufacturers with entrepreneurs and inventors. Representing a cross section of Houston small-batch manufacturers, parts and materials suppliers, the Pavilion participants aims to educate attendees on the services they provide, what is required to submit jobs, and the best way to leverage their services.

There is a strong growing need for local prototyping and manufacturing services coming from makers, inventors and startups. The point of this Pavilion is to include you as manufacturers and suppliers in development of this community (which will lead to more business) and to give you the opportunity to develop a clear understanding of this emerging local market. So, if you’re a “supply-side” provider of project manufacturing and services, register to exhibit in the Pavilion and get connected with the future of Houston. If you’re a do-er with big ideas, whether crafter, artist, inventor, maker or entrepreneur, attend Houston Mini Maker Faire for this empowering access to people who can help you achieve your ambitions.

Click here for more info about the Power Up! Houston Pavilion.

Maker Intro #11: “Science in the Movies” Headlines HMMF14!

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Just when you thought it couldn’t get any better, we’re back to announce we will present multiple showings of “Science in the Movies” at this year’s Houston Mini Maker Faire! Presented live and in person by Steve Wolf, an active stunt and special effects professional and recent winner of a national “STEM Presenter of the Year” award, this show is a fascinating in-person exploration into how science and engineering are used to create the effects that thrill us in movies.
Come see how “fun” and “learning” really do go together!
(There’s no extra charge to attend this show, set in the Stafford Centre’s excellent Theatre facility.)

 

Maker Intro #7: TexLUG Builds Large and Small With LEGO® Bricks

There's fun for all ages at TexLUG's large exhibits built with LEGO® bricks

There’s fun for all ages at TexLUG’s large exhibits built with LEGO® bricks

Jared Burks makes custom parts for LEGO® minifigures

Jared Burks makes custom parts for LEGO® minifigures

While some think of LEGO® bricks as a child’s toy, TexLUG knows these ubiquitous objects are an unlimited art and design medium. TexLUG (short for “Texas LEGO® User’s Group”) will exhibit what advanced builders can do, ranging from amazingly realistic 3D recreations and imaginative designs — to extraordinarily large machines you’ll have to see to believe!

And in a related exhibit, Jared Burks (from Fine Clonier) will show multiple techniques for LEGO brick customization, including pressure casting, vacuum forming and production of miniature decals. Jared uses these methods to make custom parts for LEGO® minifigures, but they’re very useful for other hobbies and desktop manufacturing too.

TexLUG will have an area stocked with LEGO bricks to play and build with too. This is a fun area for all ages — so drop by, chat with this group of talented makers, and stay a while!