Sep 162015
 

We often talk about STEM (science technology engineering and math) education and how to get more students involved in programs that inspire them to go down the path of becoming an engineer or scientists. What we don’t talk about often is that many times the schools or teachers who are being tasked with growing STEM, really don’t have any background or basis to do so.
In my local community of Dallas we have a large group of Middle and High School FIRST robotics teams, one of the largest community makerspaces, an amazing startup community and even some of the biggest technology companies in the world, locally headquartered. This all adds up to an environment that you think would resonate down through our society to make things like making and tinkering as accepted as playing football. Unfortunately, like in many communities that just isn’t the case.

Just yesterday, student from a local High school was arrested for bringing in his home electronics clock project. You may have read about the story already as it has been spreading through the national news very quickly. The unfortunate side of things is that it is being approached from a racial perspective, because of the student’s ethnicity. It is very easy to make that leap and ask the question if all of this would have happened if he had a different skin color, but from my perspective this is a cultural and systemic problem much bigger than race.
My message in response to this story is not to attack the school, but we as makers need to help find ways to widen our reach into areas un-served. Things like Maker Faires and Robotics completions help to broaden the exposure but I consider those events “opt-in” where most people who attend, are already either interested in the community or part of it. The vast majority of the population is not actively seeking out these kinds of events and that is the real problem we need to solve.

I see this event as a good call to action, where we should be making sure that schools in our communities have the right support, and knowledge where they can avoid situations like this. Going into schools and volunteering is one of the easiest ways we can help. Programs like FIRST Robotics, and others are always looking for people to help out, and many schools don’t participate due mainly to lack of mentors. If you have the skills and a bit of time I urge you to get out there and help. The more people we can include in our culture, the better we will all be.

 

On a personal note if by chance Ahmed sees this, I am willing to help you out how ever you need. Want a tour of Dallas Makerspace, or a spot on a local robotics team, or some parts from REV Robotics, just let me know…. You are the future and don’t let what happened to you deter your ambitions in anyway.

 

 

Apr 062013
 

One of the things that I have really started to look forward to each year is the Redbull Creation competition. This year will mark the 3 year of the event, and I am happy to say that I am planning to participate again.

Just like in past years there is a qualifier event, and then the main event. The qualifier rules are simple, build something cool using atleast some of the materials provided and submit it. Then teams will be selected based on their qualifiers and are selected for the final build.

I have been told the official announcement will come on Monday but teams who were involved previously got a small head start this year…..

Today in the mail I received a fun package containing the contents for this year’s qualifier and some other info about the event.

This year it looks like they are going back to the “build in NYC method” but only with 6 teams. We are going to have to think of something crazy to ensure we qualify. I am not sure what it will be yet, but You can bet that it will involve Beer. Take a look at my team’s past qualifiers

Here is the unboxing.

“Let there be light”

I see LED strips. 1 Meter of these http://www.adafruit.com/products/1138 5 meters of these http://www.adafruit.com/products/346

A new Custom Board in true RedBull Style

The TurBull Encabulator….

It’s an Arduino Shield, designed for driving lots of LEDs, Cool.

The back of the board has a link to a google code page, which contains the libraries for this bad boy. You can check them out here: https://code.google.com/p/turbull-encabulator/

From the website

 

The TurBull Encabulator has now reached a high level of development, and is successfully being used in the operation of controllable LED lighting art and nofertrunions. The only principal involved for the qualifier is you must create create something awesome using interactive lighting, then upload a video (up to 3 minutes long) about what you made by May 5th 12AM PST.

Please note:

  • This year you do get extra points for creatively displaying your creation in a public space.
  • Well produced and/or fun videos always tend to score better, make sure to put some time and thought into your final video. Tell everyone who you are, and demonstrate your Creation.
  • Always be mindful of the principals of mangneto reluctance and capacitive deractance.
  • You must incorporate the TurBull Encabulator into your final Creation in some capacity. You are free to use as much other hardware and technology as you like though.
  • Always keep the Reciprocating Dingle Arm on the Encabular clean.
  • Final teams competing in Red Bull Creation in New York will have 4 team members. You can have as many people helping on the qualifier as you would like though.
  • Qualifier judging will take place May 8-11th. The final 6 teams invited to Red Bull Creation will be announced May 13th!

 

Judging is based on a combination of: use of technology, concept, execution, and creativity in where/ how it is displayed. Focus on making your Creation as good as it can be and making a great video. Have lots and lots of fun. There are not many rules beyond that.

This project hosts the source for the Arduino library as well as a forum for the TurBull Encabulator. Please use the forums for Encabulator related technical questions and issues. For competition and qualifier specific questions please contact the Team Liaison at rb.createthefuture@gmail.com

Let There Be Light!

-Team Red Bull Creation

Feb 212013
 

 

This coming weekend teams of Makers, Artists, Students, Programmers, Problem-Solvers, Designers, Performers, Filmmakers (and many others) from around the globe will gather, physically and digitally, to “deconstruct” the world around them. Their common goal: rethink existing objects, genres, and ideas…and create something new.

I am running a team at the Dallas Makerspace, so if you are in Dallas and would like to join you are more then welcome to come over. If you just want to watch the fun from home we will be live streaming/blogging right here, so stay tuned.

These events always have fun results such as the Dizzy Fling, so come and be part of the innovation.

Nov 282012
 

 

Since the world has gone nuts with this 550 million dollar powerball, I figure I will share my thoughts on the lottery.

 

  • The chances of winning are 1 in 175,223,510.
  • Each ticket is an independent variable only way to increase your odds are to buy more tickets.
    • If you spend $34645 on tickets you will increase you chances to 1 in 10,000.
  • The higher the jackpot the more likely it is that someone will win.
    • it is also more likely that you will have to split the prize, as the higher number of players also increases the likelihood of having the same numbers as someone else.
  • If you win and take the lump sum (around ~360.2million), you will have to pay 90 million in federal taxes + whatever you state takes
    • darn you only get to keep around 231 million. (darn)
  • If you take that 231 million and just put it in a regular bank account at 1% interest, you will make around $9092.26 per day in interest. (compounded quarterly and divided over 365)
  • You would become the ~2,169 richest person in the USA
  • $.30 for every dollar of tickets purchased goes to schools (in most states), This lottery is worth $311 Million for education.
  • You are more likely to do any of the following things then win
    • Odds of bowling a 300 game: 11,500 to 1
    • Odds of getting a hole in one: 5,000 to 1
    • Odds of being an astronaut: 13,200,000 to 1
    • Odds of winning an Olympic medal: 662,000 to 1
    • Odds of injury from fireworks: 19,556 to 1
    • Odds of injury from shaving: 6,585 to 1
    • Odds of injury from using a chain saw: 4,464 to 1
    • Odds of injury from mowing the lawn: 3,623 to 1
    • Odds of fatally slipping in bath or shower: 2,232 to 1
    • Odds of drowning in a bathtub: 685,000 to 1
    • Odds of being struck by lightning: 576,000 to 1
    • Odds of being killed by lightning: 2,320,000 to 1
    • Odds of being murdered: 18,000 to 1
    • Odds of getting away with murder: 2 to 1
    • Odds of catching a ball at a major league ballgame: 563 to 1
    • Odds of becoming a pro athlete: 22,000 to 1
    • Odds of getting a royal flush in poker on first five cards dealt: 649,740 to 1

 

I really do hope that you win so….may the odds be ever in your favor.