Category Archives: stem

Nova Maker Faire – Call for Makers!

Are you a maker?

If you don’t know, would you call yourself a tinkerer, hobbyist, entrepreneur?  Or even artist, sculptor, crafter?  Did you get one of those Arduinos or Raspberry PI‘s over the holidays and have no idea what to do with it?

The Nova Mini Maker Faire is approaching fast, and we would like you to be involved.

Projects range from the very old to cutting-edge new, and if you’re not actually done with something, bring it anyway!  You may find people willing to help or start up an interest group.  Some makers treat this as a way to get a project completed, because there is an actual scheduled date to get ready.

Nova Maker Faire – Call for Makers!

Bob (2nd left) with 1950-60’s era Teletype upgraded with Raspberry Pi interface, and Brian (far right) learning about bamboo and carbon fiber composites at a Maker Faire.

If you dream of Rube Goldberg, this is the place to show off what you’ve been working on.  Just go to to register (direct link is here).  We can’t wait to see the great projects that you are working on.

Nova Maker Faire – Call for Makers!

Fred (left) and Mike (right) with their flying wing.

Nova Maker Faire – Call for Makers!

Craig’s epic marble machine

Menehune Makers–for Young Makers

2nd and 4th Wednesdays 5:00pm-6:00pm

This is our special program for children. Events will vary, but the primary focus will be on the Art of Tinkering, which encourages learning through exploration of ordinary objects and re-using them in interesting and creative ways. Check the Maui Makers Calendar for specifics. Events are suitable for 3 and up. Children under 12 must be accompanied by an adult or guardian, who will be encouraged to explore with their child(ren).

Robotics Weekend Workshop for Girls Grades 8 – 12

CRASH Member Craig and his FTC robotics team are looking for new recruits for the Rock N Roll Robots Weekend Summer Workshop!

Robotics Weekend Workshop for Girls Grades 8 – 12

The Rock N’ Robots Summer Workshop is an overnight program created and run by current members of the Rock N’ Roll Robots Girl Scouts robotics team, with help from team parents and mentors from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL). The camp is designed to prepare girls to compete in the FIRST Tech Challenge robotics tournament. (Although participants are not required to join a robotics team.)

Robotics Weekend Workshop for Girls Grades 8 – 12 Robotics Weekend Workshop for Girls Grades 8 – 12


  • Upon arrival, campers will be organized into teams. Over the course of their weekend, each team will build and program a robot to compete in a mini-tournament on Sunday afternoon.
  • As part of this process, campers will receive instruction in the technical skills necessary to build a robot; like design, construction, and programming. In addition, campers will be introduced to other important skills like team building, fundraising, public outreach, and competition strategy.
  • But it’s not all hard work. This camp is planned by Girl Scouts who love to hang out and have a good time! Workshops will be mixed with team building activities, a movie night, and of course, s’mores around the campfire.
  • Family and friends are invited to join us at 3pm on Sunday to watch the tournament and cheer for their favorite robot.

For more information, check out the flyer!

Mindframe Education partners with Nova Labs to offer STEM classes this summer

Mindframe education has partnered with Nova Labs to offer STEM-focused summer camps at Nova Labs. These summer camps combine fun and learning into one unforgettable experience that teaches students how to think and work like real engineers, scientists, creative designers, and developers. Students get to work on cool projects, engage in fun, hands-on activities, and develop real-world products and digital creations.

Mindframe Education partners with Nova Labs to offer STEM classes this summer

Some of the highlights of theses classes which run the gamut from programming, mobile app development, robotics, web design, 3D printing and even science are:

• Each camp includes instruction on the concepts and technologies, and fun, hands-on projects & activities
• All camps include a variety of fun break activities, indoors and outdoors, including games, challenges, and social time
• Students have access to real-world tools and the latest technologies
• Through individual and group activities, students will take part in hands-on projects that give them the opportunity to see their learning in action
• Students will grouped by age and/or skill level in each camp to allow students to learn and apply their new skills at a pace that’s suitable for them
• Students will be taught by tech-savvy, experienced designers, developers and engineers with expertise in their fields and a passion for teaching
• As the camp comes to an end, students will present their new creations and show off their skills to family and friends

Mindframe Education partners with Nova Labs to offer STEM classes this summer


The summer camps are one week in length, will run from June 22nd through August 28th and are targeted at rising grades 2-12. A complete schedule, and all of the details can be and a brochure with the camp schedule can be found at the Mindframe Education website at:

Nova Mini Maker Faire 2015

2nd Annual NoVa Mini Maker Faire, March 15, 2015

The NoVa Maker Faire is gearing up for its second annual family-friendly event that will bring more than 100 makers to a fun-filled day celebrating the diversity of makers across the region. The Faire will take place on March 15, 2015 from 10am to 5 pm at Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School in Reston, Virginia.

The Faire will include makers, activities, speakers and sponsors. Makers will share their knowledge through hands-on projects for adults and kids on topics ranging from blacksmithing and primitive skills to 3D printing, drones and robots to building customized equipment for special needs children to creative art-making. Makers will be grouped in neighborhoods by their topic. Neighborhoods include: Young Makers, Creativity Lane, Drone Zone, Robotics, 3D Printing Village, Science Lab, Flight Path, Sustainability Village, and more.

Nova Labs members will be presenting Vehicles – Flight Simulator and Go Kart, STEM4Makers, Top Drone, and others.

There are many other makers to explore. The Chaos Machine is a large marble machine that can be modified by participants. Gravity is Optional presents science experiments you can do at home. The DC Area Drone User Group will also demonstrate drone design and capabilities. Jennifer Gluck of JenmadeIt and Jade Garret will present adaptive equipment for special needs children. Artistic topics include hand spinning yarn, creating art from recycled materials, 3D printed artwork, woodworking, and creating ArtBots presented by the Children’s Science Center.

You can learn about makerspaces in area schools at Camelot ES, Kilmer MS and Falls Church HS; the STEAM program at South Lakes HS; Robotics program at Westfield HS, and the maker program at Loudoun Country Day School.

There will also be five activities for Faire-goers to try: Nerdy Derby, Catapults and Ballistas, KEVA Planks, GEMS Take Apart Zone and Demo-Vation with UpCycle Creative Reuse Center. Nerdy Derby is a no-rules miniature car building and racing competition inspired by the Cub Scouts’ Pinewood Derby. In the Catapults and Ballistas you can explore trajectory, torsion, torque, force, and materials using these safe tools. KEVA Planks are addictive small building blocks to build and explore with – fun for children and adults. In the GEMS Take Apart Zone you can disassemble machines to explore how things work. And then in the adjacent Demo-Vation with UpCycle Creative Reuse Center you can create something new out of these discarded elements.

Children building with KEVA Planks. Over 10,000 KEVA Planks will be available for building during the Faire, courtesy of KEVA Planks.

G EMS (Girls in Engineering, Math & Science) Take Apart Zone

Nova Mini Maker Faire 2015

The Faire will present eight speakers this year including: Dr. Lance Bush, CEO of The Challenger Center for Space Science Education; Jennifer Gluck who creates DIY adaptive equipment for special needs children; Vicky Somma, winner 2014 White House 3D Printed Design Challenge; and Chris Vo, Chief Scientist at Sentien Robotics and President of DC Area Drone User Group.

V icki Somma, winner 2014 White House 3D Printed Design Challenge, will present “3D Printing Without a Printer”

Nova Mini Maker Faire 2015

Credit – Vicki Somma

Food will be available for sale on site by area food trucks including: Doug the Food Dude, Fava Pot, Hardy BBQ, Mama’s Donut Bites and Tasty Kabob.

Advance tickets are available online now. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children through March 14, 2015. Tickets at the door are $20 for adults and $8 for children. Volunteer opportunities are still available which include a free admission ticket.

The Faire is thankful for the support of its sponsors including: Fairfax County Public Schools, Fairfax Connector, The Innovation Fund of the Community Foundation for Northern Virginia, Google, AOL, School for Tomorrow, Reston Association, and Merrill Lynch. Community partners include: Reston Community Center, GEMS (Girls Excelling in Math & Science), and Workhouse Arts Center. Media sponsors include Activity Rocket and Reston Association.

Free parking is available at the Wiehle-Reston East Metro station in the County garage. Free shuttle bus service will be provided from the south side of the Metro station to Langston Hughes Middle School and South Lakes High School. Only handicapped parking is available at the schools. A bike valet will be available at the event.

Check the mobile website for complete list of makers and speakers, to volunteer and to purchase tickets. The site will be finalized the week of the Faire.

Nova Mini Maker Faire 2015

Blacksmithing, Credit – Everest Gromoll

Nova Mini Maker Faire 2015

Drone from DC Area Drone Group, credit – DC Area Drone Group

Nova Mini Maker Faire 2015

Solutions for special needs by Jennifer Gluck, Maker and Speaker, Credit – Jennifer Gluck

STEM4Makers: LEGO Build Day

On Saturday January 24th, Nova Labs STEM4Makers threw a huge LEGO party! The event attracted more than 30 kids ages 5 to 14.

There were lots of LEGO-related activities, each with their own dedicated zone. There was a LEGO Construction Zone with over 2,000 LEGOs donated for temporary use by Keane and Bryce Peterson. Thanks guys!

We covered the floor with a bib plastic tarp and the kids had a fantastic time building and socializing on the floor or the surrounding tables. The tables served as a way of keeping the kids in the LEGO zone, a very good thing for Kids activities in a working Makerspace.

STEM4Makers: LEGO Build Day
There was a LEGO Racetrack zone where the kids could race their LEGO cars. There was a LEGO Arena where one could drive your robots. The tables were filled with various LEGO-related crafts such as Make Your Own mini-fig or Lego Kirigami. Since you can’t have a LEGO party without LEGO-themed food, there was the LEGO food zone. The Yoda Soda caused much comment and I resisted giving the chemistry of Yoda Soda lesson. While there was NO candy, there were lots of yummy alternatives that were healthy and gluten-free.
STEM4Makers: LEGO Build Day

First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard

On September 7, 2014, the Nova Labs Rocketry Group (or the Nova Labs Space Division) had its first launch at NASA Goddard.  Featured were several rockets designed by our own NL kids.  We have several successful launches, fielding nearly 20 rockets.  We also launched 2 prototypes of our HARP (High Altitude Rocket Project) ships to see if they would be stable in flight, and they were, even though one of them snapped off its longer fins.  We learned quite a few lessons and were invited to the NARHAMS Triathlon and night launch on September 20th in Mt. Airy.  

Several of our kids brought their own rockets and we hope to go back again in October and field newer and more sophisticated rockets.  Even though we lost ‘Stilleto’ with its on board camera to rocket-eating trees, we still captured video from the ground and took many pictures.  Here are some images:

First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard First Flight of Nova Labs Rocketry Group at NASA Goddard

The video of the event is below. Thanks to Brett Thorson, Ted Markson and Patrick Thompson for wielding the cameras.

We are planning for a multi-engine, multi-stage and night flight at Mt. Airy on September 20th.  The pictures from there promise to be spectacular.

Girl Makers Visit Home Depot

RESTON — Last week the Reston Home Depot rolled out the red carpet and orange aprons for a “Girls Build” field trip of the GEMS-Girl Makers, a collaborative partnership between Nova Labs and Girls Excelling in Math and Science.

Home Depot Supervisor Angela Covington-Tyler organized the 2-hour program, which included hands-on demonstrations, an equipment tour, and a DIY wood build project for 10 excited girls.

“Who wants to try the drill?” she asked.

A stampede ensued.

Girl Makers Visit Home Depot

Girl Makers Visit Home Depot

Smiling customers stopped and watched.

“I had a lot of fun at the Home Depot,” said one 8 year old GEMS third grader. “I saw where all the wood was and where things are to make walls. A man showed us how to drill a hole in wood and we all got a turn. Another showed us how to wire a lamp!”

Girl Makers Visit Home Depot

“Learning to use a hammer, drill and saw are life skills,” said Elizabeth Vandenburg, Founder of GEMS-Girl Makers of Nova Labs. “Girls are champing at the bit to get their hands on tools.”

Girl Makers Visit Home Depot

The girls completed wood projects they were able to take home and show their friends.

“Reston Home Depot staff put so much thought and effort into teaching and showing the girls tools and how to use them safely,” said Nova Labs President Brian Jacoby. “And then the girls built things. How cool is that?”

Girls Excelling in Math & Science (GEMS) Club host “Learn about Electronics” at Nova Labs

On Saturday June 30, 2014 the Girls Excelling in Math and Science (GEMS) Club hosted a “Learn About Electronics” workshop for six mom-daughter teams. They learned a lot—and had a blast!

Girls Excelling in Math & Science (GEMS) Club host “Learn about Electronics” at Nova Labs

Nova Lab members Jennyfer and Bryce Peterson used Snap Circuit kitsfunded with a grant from GEMSto teach the girls basic electronics after which they created wearable bracelets using a simple circuit, an LED, wire, and battery.

Girls Excelling in Math & Science (GEMS) Club host “Learn about Electronics” at Nova Labs

“The bracelet was not your usual cookie-cutter classroom project. To encourage thinking skills and curiosity, students need choices and an opportunity to learn from failure,” said Peterson. “Creating a bracelet gave the girls many engineering design choices; different materials, methods of closing/opening the circuits, battery sizes, conductive materials, and decorations.”

Later this month the Petersons take their show on the road to Haiti where they will teach students at the Village of Hope School. Nova Labs and GEMS are proud to support not only a girls-focused event, but to also support Peterson’s international mission.