Category Archives: Kids

Vielfältiges Programm zu den Datenspuren 2015

An diesem Wochenende veranstaltet der Chaos Computer Club die Datenspuren in den Technischen Sammlungen Dresden. Die zweitägige Konferenz zum Thema „Smart Devices“ eröffnet dabei ein vielfältiges Programm, das nicht nur Hackern einiges zu bieten hat. Vorträge, Workshops und Bastelstationen laden Jung und Alt eintrittsfrei zum Informieren, Diskutieren und Mitgestalten ein.

Mit den gesellschaftlichen Folgen der Informationstechnologie beschäftigt sich die Hackerkonferenz Datenspuren in diesem Jahr. Seit 2004 wird die zweitägige Veranstaltung einmal im Jahr vom Chaos Computer Club Dresden organisiert. Am Wochenende des 24. und 25. Oktober 2015 werden in den Räumen der Technischen Sammlungen Dresden alte und neue Trends der IT analysiert, gebastelt und sich ausprobiert. Ein kritischer Gedankenaustausch zwischen Politik, Gesellschaft und Technikern ist dabei jedes Jahr Ziel der Veranstaltung und Organisatoren.

In ihrer zwölften Auflage finden die Datenspuren an zwei Tagen parallel zu den Dauerausstellungen der Technischen Sammlungen Dresden statt. Thema sind in diesem Jahr Chancen und Risiken von mobilen und vernetzten Geräten – sogenannten Smart Devices. Smartphones, TVs, Uhren und Tablet PCs erleichtern den Alltag zwar ungemein, doch ihre Technologie bringt teilweise unschätzbare Gefahren mit sich: Sie erheben Daten, verteilen diese in Echtzeit und den meisten Nutzerinnen und Nutzer ist dieser Eingriff in ihre Privatsphäre gar nicht bewusst. Doch nicht nur Unternehmen nutzen die Spuren, die ein jeder durch die Nutzung von Smart Devices hinterlässt. Spätestens nach den Enthüllungen von Edward Snowden ist klar, dass die Überwachung der digitalen Kommunikation unüberschaubare Dimensionen genommen hat. Die Möglichkeiten zur Sicherung der digitalen Privatsphäre stellt ein zentrales Thema der Datenspuren 2015 dar.

Höhepunkte werden in diesem Jahr der Eröffnungsvortrag von Linus Neumann, Sprecher des Chaos Computer Club, und die Podiumsdiskussion zum Thema „Die Grenzen des Geheimen“ mit Gästen wie Gordian Meyer-Plath, Präsident des Landesamtes für Verfassungsschutz Sachsen, Anna Biselli, Redakteurin bei netzpolitik.org, und Constanze Kurz, Sprecherin des CCC, sein. Mitmachen und Fachsimpeln kann bei den Datenspuren nicht nur das IT-affine Fachpublikum. Alle sind herzlich eingeladen, den Vorträgen zu lauschen, sich an den Workshops zu beteiligen und gemeinsam alltagstaugliche Lösungen zu finden. Gemeinsam mit der Open Data Community werden Hacker und gewöhnliche Computernutzer außerdem zu einer Zukunftsspinnerei eingeladen. Im Rahmen des Projektes „Zukunftsstadt“ soll miteinander ein computerbasierter Beitrag für eine nachhaltige Stadtgesellschaft visioniert werden.

Die Teilnahme an den Datenspuren ist kostenlos und ohne Anmeldung möglich. Die Ausstellungen der Technischen Sammlungen können während der Konferenz eintrittsfrei besucht werden.

Weitere Informationen und das vollständige Programm unter www.datenspuren.de

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:    http://mindframeeducation.com/summer-camps/

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

How To: Build an Arduino MP3 School Locker Jukebox

I attended parents’ orientation night for my to-be-grade-seven daughter this Spring, and all was fine until I noticed LOCKERS……  it felt like yesterday that I was helping my little 3 year old put her sun bonnet into her cubby at pre-school, and now she is about to attend a schoold with lockers.  Lockers that in my day held no end of contraband, Led Zepplin posters, graffiti, inappropriatenotes, dirty gym clothes…….  I almost passed out.

Later that night our Principal shared that a school tradition is that fathers were invited to decorate their kids’ lockers just before school started…..  my wheels started turning.  How about a locker Jukebox that would play a different playlist on each day whenever the door was opened.  It could play holiday music at holidays, spooky sounds around Halloween, awful birthday songs around birthdays, “I have a dream” for MLK day….  Nobody’s done a musical MOTD for lockers that I could google – we would rock that locker and every day that a new playlist would kick off my kid would think “My dad is such a nerd”.  Perfect.

 The software flow would be boot, look up the date, use the date to look up the desired playlist in a calendar, dip the EEPROM to see what track was last played then plan the next track in the playlist du jour.  Bit of multidimensional arrays and reverse engineering Chinglish documentation.   Cake.

 So – high level design.  Arduino doesn’t have the horsepower nor the library to do native MP3 decoding, so I ordered a standalone MP3 player with a serial control interface and grabbed an arduino nano out of my box and a realtime clock:

  • MP3 module – WT5001M02-28P - I paid maybe $15 delivered.
  • Arduino Nano - Any arduino pretty much would work, the nano is fun sized and thus ideal.
  • RealTime Clock (RTC) - I used a 1307 like this (or this).

 The gotcha dragons that needed to be slain were:

he MP3 module BARELY supports FAT 16/32….  it doesn’t understand filenames, the ORDER of file entries in the FAT system is what it uses…..  practically that means “random file play order” unless you use a FAT sorter program like “FAT Sorter” – “Play file 1” will play the first file loaded onto the media, regardless of name.  Really – repeated for emphasis, the MP3 player can only play a file based on which FAT entry number it is.

  • The MP3 module is also persnickety about what it plays – basically it barely plays WAV files, so I used Audacity to convert everything to a consistent MP3 format.
  • See first point – Excremental MP3 player lack of filesystem support made it important for me to name every file with a sortable name – DOS stinks so I used a “bulk file renamer” to deal with hundreds of files intelligently….. like this (first page of 400 odd files):

  • Awful documentation of the MP3 module available here.

So – how to bolt it together?  The realtime clock (RTC) gets plumbed to IC2 interface, the MP3 player is connected to the serial interface, speaker to the MP3 player and power for all….  done (insert cheezy schematic or napkin diagram).  To keep power usage low, I use a normally-open SPST switch (epoxied to a rare earth magnet) to apply power to the system (from a USB emergency power bank $5 brick), whenever the locker door opens.  System boots, plays the next song in the current playlist.

  Jukebox_bb.jpg

Fritzing (neat if perhaps a tad buggy) didn’t have the MP3 module so I used a generic 28 pin doomahickus (right hand side module) to represent it.  Note that there are only half a dozen interconnects, plus power – simple and easy.  Transmit wired to Receive (visa versa).  The battery illustrated is really a USB “emergency backup” battery that I put a microswitch on – when the locker door opens it provides 5V to the USB port of the nano which powers the MP3 module.  The microswitch is epoxied to a rare earth magnet that came out of a hard drive.

Construction is REALLY hinky – I just taped two small (free) protoboards together and used jumpers to wire the whole thing up.  I wrapped it in racer tape, and called it a day.  Yes, etching a board would have been more elegant, this took literally two minutes.

Not shown in the code is the “how to program a 1307 module” I’d programmed mine for an earlier project – use your google-fu to find a sketch you like to program the time into a 1307 and run it first.

photo 2.JPGphoto 3.JPG

photo 4 (2).JPG

photo 2 (2).JPG

The code is pretty straightforward – note that the MP3 player takes a second or two to cold-boot (the main setup delay), the calendar uses 31 days for every month (I couldn’t figure out a more compact way than just wasting 16 or 20 bytes on nonexistent days, sorry), every day lists a playlist, every playlist contains 10 songs, each song is an ordinal “which song number after FAT sorting the micro-sd card” index that is passed to the MP3 player.

In the code below you’ll see thirty odd playlists that are invoked by season, by day, etc.

It took far longer to curate the playlist than to program/wire/enclose the project, so prepare to spend time here.

——————————————————————

ARDUINO Code available here.

——————————————————————

I left in the debug serial.print stuff because it doesn’t take up much room, and you’ll probably want to mess around a bit with it in place.

What would I add?

The original idea was to also have a tricolor LED strip that would play a related (curated) color sequence per song.  I didn’t want to mess with also having a 12V supply, and the buck/buck switcher I ordered got lost en route from China so that led to a “Plan B” involving listening to the MP3 output with an analog input, doing a simple fast fourier-type transform to get freq bin / amplitude info then doing a color organ.

Midway through the code I realized “doing a transform to pseudo-frequency domain representation of an MP3 is really, really, really stupid” so I took yet another detour to look at Cypress who now sell an integrated SOC with a magical on-wafer FPGA capability.  The NEXT rev is going to have a SW defined “old school” analog domain color organ (bandpass filter feeding an integrator that will report to the micro) which will drive an algorithm to represent the music based on the color organ input.  I’ll ditch the arduino for a Cypress PSOC4, but I need to get smarter about FPGA first.

For the time being though, this will be the “MVP” feature set.

Nova Labs Members 3D Print Prosthetic Hands for Kids in Support of E-NABLE Initiative

Photo: Courtesy of E-nabling the Future

BALTIMORE — Over the course of several weeks, Nova Labs volunteers Jason Kohles, Keith McGerald, Paul Chase, Erica Kane, Jeff Balderson, and Thomas Johnston 3D printed hundreds of small parts that were assembled into 17 prosthetic hands for kids at last weekend’s E-NABLE Conference at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In all, over 200 prosthetic hands were printed and assembled at the conference!

Nova Labs Members 3D Print Prosthetic Hands for Kids in Support of E-NABLE Initiative

The E-nabling the Future initiative aims to harness the potential of open source designs and distributed, low-cost manufacturing to make the frequent refitting of prosthetic hands during kids’ growth years cost effective for families.

Nova Labs Members 3D Print Prosthetic Hands for Kids in Support of E-NABLE Initiative

Photo: Iron Man Edition. Courtesy of E-nabling the Future

Support our efforts through a tax-deductible donation or get involved by signing up for our prosthetics group mailing list! To subscribe, register for a Nova Labs account, then visit your Nova Labs listserv management page to subscribe to the prosthetics listserv.

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.