SCI Blog

At the Science Center of Iowa, our goal is to be a quality community resource for informal science learning where children, families, school groups and individuals of all ages come to explore science and technology.

To continue the learning outside our building, we bring you the SCI blog! Our knowledgeable staff, along with special guests and local scientists, will give you a behind-the-scenes look at SCI activities, in-depth information about science events and STEM connections in the Des Moines area.

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  • Iowa Makers collaborate to develop statewide innovation ecosystem

    We ended our final Iowa Maker Tweet-Up of the summer on a sweet note… featuring cooking studios, die-cut chocolate, 3-D printed treats and more! Our final #iamakerchat of the season focused on Making in Iowa and how local Makers can collaborate to develop the state’s innovation ecosystem.

    Here are a few of our favorite tweets from Tuesday’s conversation:

    First, we brainstormed ways to invite new Makers to join the movement while supporting Iowa’s existing Maker community.

    How can we show the world that everyone is a Maker? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    Programs like yours, and make sure we keep bringing people into the conversation from different backgrounds. #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    How can Makers support Makers as we work to develop Iowa’s innovation ecosystem? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    SHARE. And then share some more. Go to a Maker Space or your library or a meetup or your existing clubs and SHARE. #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    We brainstormed how Maker Faires can better serve the local Maker community and inspire new Makers.

    What role do Maker Faires play in developing Maker culture/bringing it to pop culture? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    That whole “not connected” thing. That’s what they could be doing. Also, inspiring the young’uns. #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    Then, high-tech cuisine came up…

    How do we encourage Makers to collaborate on new ideas? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    We’d also like to have some like-minded neighbors. We can’t be the entire village, e.g., a cooking studio would be GREAT! #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    Food art/cooking is a key part of Making, but it’s often left out of the discussion. How do we bring that to light? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    But those ties are happening! They’re just not as obvious as wearables, for instance. But hey, 3-D printed food! #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    Finally, we said farewell to an inspiring summer of tweet-ups with this question:

    How would you describe the Maker movement in one sentence (or two)? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    Making something will almost always involve learning something. Might be something different than you expected as well! #iamakerchat -@MichaelELandon

    It’s about us reclaiming our confidence as producers and agents of change in our lives. (And making cool stuff.) #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    Join us next summer!

    Thanks for following along and joining in the Iowa Maker conversation! Stay tuned in June 2016 for another summer of #iamakerchat, featuring new topics, new technology and new ways to expand your Maker mindset!

  • Robots are high-tech toys with real-world applications

    Robo-snakes, robo-taxis, robo-hotels — last Tuesday’s Iowa Maker Tweet-Up featured all of the above and more in the spirit of our “Robots and Hacking” theme in the Makers Studio. We explored the future of robotics as a cool toy and technology with real-world applications. Here are a few highlights from our conversation:

    First, we discussed our favorite futuristic robots… And how we can make them a little less freaky.

    What’s the most exciting piece of robotics news you’ve heard in the past couple months? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    The robot hotel in Japan sounds really interesting - and creepy at the same time! -@MichaelELandon

    We agree! A cool application of tech, for sure! Would you visit that hotel? -@SCIOWA

    Not sure! The videos I’ve seen show the movements to be awkward - what I tried to avoid programming animatronics! #iamakerchat -@MichaelELandon

    Naturally, we had to take a virtual tour of the “Henn’na Hotel” (it translates to “strange hotel” in Japanese, appropriately enough). Almost entirely staffed by robots, the hotel is high-tech but booking your stay is surprisingly cheap, as the robo-staff cuts labor costs by about 70 percent.

    Need a ride to the robot hotel? Take one of Japan’s robot taxis.

    Whether you’re building the ultimate robo-taxi or a DIY replica of R2-D2, robotics is all about problem-solving.  

    What’s one lesson you’ve learned working with robotics/mechanics as a Maker? #iamakerchat -@SCIOWA

    How to press bearings. SMT soldering. Controlling a stepper motor. How do you pick one? #iamakerchat -@Area515DSM

    More as a user than a Maker, understanding robotics’ role in increased access made it not just a toy. #iamakerchat -@AAMers, American Alliance of Museums

    Great point! How do you keep that concept in mind with every step of the Making process? #iamakerchat

    Maybe by trying to see the world through others’ eyes; approaching #Making as a way to solve problems/create solutions. #iamakerchat -@AAMers

    Next #iamakerchat: Join us Tuesday, August 11, from 7:00-8:00 pm for the final Iowa Maker Tweet-Up of the summer. We’ll discuss the upcoming Des Moines Mini Maker Faire, the future of Maker culture and more. Tweet #iamakerchat to join the conversation!