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All Hands Active in Ann Arbor is a Makerspace for All Ages (Video)

Roblimo posted about 2 years ago | from the active-hands-are-happy-hands dept.

Education 35

This is an interview with All Hands Active's Josh Williams. He shows us a project the group is doing in conjunction with Eastern Michigan University's Bright Futures Institute for the Study of Children, Families, and Communities. This is just one project, and maybe not the most exciting one they do, but it's something simple they can (and do) cart around to schools and other remote locations. They use a laser cutter for this simple project, not because it's really needed, Josh says, but because "any excuse to use a laser cutter is a good excuse."

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All Due Credit (3, Informative)

samzenpus (5) | about 2 years ago | (#39699325)

Josh wanted to make sure a couple of credits were given out that didn't make it into the video.

Re:All Due Credit (2)

joshdont (927192) | about 2 years ago | (#39700975)

Thanks a ton for posting up the sources! All Hands Active would not exist if not for a huge amount of help from local and online places.

For those interested, there are a number of Hacker/Makerspaces/Fab Labs that help connect people to resources:
http://www.hackerspaces.org/ [hackerspaces.org]
http://www.schoolfactory.org/ [schoolfactory.org]

If you're in the Michigan area, make sure to check out
http://www.i3detroit.com/ [i3detroit.com]
http://www.maker-works.com/ [maker-works.com]
http://www.mtelliottmakerspace.com/ [mtelliottmakerspace.com]
http://omnicorpdetroit.com/ [omnicorpdetroit.com]
http://www.portlandmachinistguild.org/ [portlandma...tguild.org]
Places and people providing similar space/activities/awesome.

truer words (4, Funny)

ArcSecond (534786) | about 2 years ago | (#39699353)

"any excuse to use a laser cutter is a good excuse"

That should be added to the Slashdot quotes.

Re:truer words (1)

El Torico (732160) | about 2 years ago | (#39699419)

Children and laser cutters, what could go wrong?

Re:truer words (1)

durrr (1316311) | about 2 years ago | (#39699513)

Children could learn to be responsible and start innovating, can't have that now can we, please arrest this freedom hating child molester!

Re:truer words (1)

mwvdlee (775178) | about 2 years ago | (#39699581)

Then why not give your children a loaded shotgun to play with?

Re:truer words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39699727)

Why not? I got to play* with a loaded shotgun when I was a kid, and AFAICT I turned out fine.

*Of course, responsible gun owners are sure to say "firearms are not toys", "never play with guns", and such. But I just can't see any real distinction between "playing" and "recreational shooting" -- e.g. tacking up balloons at the local shooting range and popping them with a 22, shooting clay pigeons with a shotgun, etc. -- and refuse to endorse such meaningless distinctions. Nothing about playing and responsible behavior are incompatible.

Re:truer words (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39699719)

Enlighten us, what could go wrong? You realize that laser cutters have safety switches that don't allow power to the laser unless the hood is closed, don't you? A laser cutter is safer than even a jigsaw.

Re:truer words (1)

meustrus (1588597) | about 2 years ago | (#39700233)

A laser cutter is safer than even a jigsaw.

Safer than a jigsaw? As in, a jigsaw puzzle? I didn't realize the edges of the puzzle pieces were that sharp...

...or maybe it's a jigsaw puzzle of a laser cutter?

Re:truer words (1)

csnydermvpsoft (596111) | about 2 years ago | (#39700467)

Safer than a jigsaw? As in, a jigsaw puzzle? I didn't realize the edges of the puzzle pieces were that sharp...

...or maybe it's a jigsaw puzzle of a laser cutter?

Or, perhaps, safer than an actual jigsaw - you know, the kind that they used to use to cut the puzzles (giving them their name).

What a great thing to see on the top of slashdot (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39699449)

I'm from Ann Arbor, and I've got Josh in my phone. AHA is fantastic, and it's awesome to see this on slashdot!

Re:What a great thing to see on the top of slashdo (1)

analogorithm (2473080) | about 2 years ago | (#39699547)

I don't know any of the people involved, but I must say, I'm really proud to have this going on one town over.

Re:What a great thing to see on the top of slashdo (1)

Nova1313 (630547) | about 2 years ago | (#39699575)

If you are interested, please stop by sometime! Build night is held on Thursday evenings. Lots of neat projects going on!

Makerspace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39699753)

What the hell is a makerspace? Can they just not say arts & crafts fair?

Re:Makerspace? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39699779)

It's not a fair. People don't go there to present but to make things. Makerspaces typically provide access to tools that are too expensive for individuals to buy just for themselves, like laser cutters, 3D printers or CNC mills.

Re:Makerspace? (1)

tehcyder (746570) | about 2 years ago | (#39708287)

It's not a fair. People don't go there to present but to make things. Makerspaces typically provide access to tools that are too expensive for individuals to buy just for themselves, like laser cutters, 3D printers or CNC mills.

Sorry, but "makerspace" is still a wank name. It's a communal workshop

Slashdot is useless once again (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39699761)

"You need to have the Adobe Flash Player to view this content."

Fuck Adobe's Flash and Sun's Java plug-in.

Pop Science (3, Funny)

Gothmolly (148874) | about 2 years ago | (#39700013)

"Makerspace" - a culmination of pop science/Mythbusters viewers who take off-the-shelf stuff, without knowing how it works, cobble it together, and claim to be hackers.

Sad, sad world. Where's the next Steve Wozniak?

Re:Pop Science (1)

Darth_brooks (180756) | about 2 years ago | (#39700433)

"Sad, sad world. Where's the next Steve Wozniak?"

Watching video's like this and saying to him or herself "I can do better than that!" then heading down to their work space and doing so.

Re:Pop Science (1)

StikyPad (445176) | about 2 years ago | (#39700455)

First of all, I think the word "Makerspace" is ridiculous. That said, there's nothing to gain by demeaning anyone who doesn't fit your profile of a "true" scientist. And whether or not people know how it works (though I'd argue that they often do) is frankly irrelevant. You don't need to know how paint works to create a masterpiece, or why black powder burns so rapidly to create a rocket motor. Besides, hands-on experience is the best kind.

Re:Pop Science (1)

Wyrd01 (761346) | about 2 years ago | (#39700519)

What's so bad about giving kids a space where all these creative tools exist and letting them just come in and see what they can come up with?

Yeah, 99% of the things that come out of there will be nothing special, but what if this "makerspace" enables the one kid in a million who has an actual gift for this and he comes up with something new and innovative?

Re:Pop Science (1)

joshdont (927192) | about 2 years ago | (#39700719)

Aye aye!

The facility is primarily used by people within the ages of ~18 to ~30. However, we do a lot of work outside the space with younger groups. The space is open to all.

Some people who come down are interested in a pretty low level/assembly code understanding of the world. Others just want to know the easiest way to manipulate it. Either way, hopefully they can find some of the resources they need at, or through AHA!

Re:Pop Science (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39724035)

absolutely nothing! just shake the haters off. they grump mcgrumpsters with nothing else better to do than complain. boooo booooo on you and your silly attempt at growing your e-ego

For-profit vs. non-profit maker spaces? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39700545)

What is the consensus on for-profit vs. non-profit maker spaces?

Ann Arbor, for example, also has "Maker Works". I looked at their website, and also All Hands Active; neither mentions being a non-profit. So I assume they are for-profit, though I am less certain about AHA.

How much effort should we put into building up a "community" when the enterprise is actually for-profit venture? Doesn't that often lead to disappointment if the business really takes off?

On the other hand, many of us have no issue with paying reasonable rates for access to a great shop space, and also the community that often comes with it.

Re:For-profit vs. non-profit maker spaces? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39700681)

All Hands Active is a non-profit and is registered as such. Donations over $250 are tax deductible.

Fortunate choice of college towns... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39700769)

"All Hands Active in Ann Arbor" sounds a little less creepy than "All Hands Active in State College" for example.

AHA (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 years ago | (#39700789)

Glad to see AHA getting recognition. They're a great bunch of guys.

Oh, and i3 Detroit > AHA! :P

FiremanDave - too lazy to create a /. account just to razz them!

Transcript (2)

QuasiSteve (2042606) | about 2 years ago | (#39701171)

Title: All Hands Active in Ann Arbor is a Makerspace for both Adults and Kids
Description: This is an interview with All Hands Active leader Josh Williams. He shows us a project the group is doing in conjunction with Eastern Michigan University's Bright Futures Institute for the Study of Children, Families and Communities.

[00:00] <TITLE>
"Slashdot Visits the All Hands Active Makerspace in Ann Arbor, Michigan" appears over a view the interviewer, "Slashdot Editor Rob Rozeboom" as noted in the SlashdotTV logo bar.

[00:01] Rob>
The folks at All Hands Active in Ann Arbor teach kids about science and technology through a variety of fun and interesting projects.
Today they're gonna be building crossbows out of cardboard with the help of a laser cutter.

[00:12] <TITLE>
A view of Josh Williams at the Makerspace with various hardware equipment in the background appears, with the Slashdot TV logo bar reading "Josh Williams @ All Hands Active 'Ann Arbor's Makerspace'".
Throughout the interview, generic shots of people working on the aforementioned DIY crossbow are seen mixed in with this base shot.

[00:12] Josh>
I'm Josh Williams and we're at All Hands Active at 525 East Liberty Street, Ann Arbor, Michigan.

[00:18] Rob>
And what do you do here?

[00:20] Josh>
A bunch of things.
It's always a fun - kind of complicated - question, but basically we give people access to resources, information, tools and other people.
We've got sewing machines, laser cutters, 3D printers and then just a standard soup of your normal tools: hammers, screwdrivers, drill presses - things like that.

[00:38] Rob>
And what are we doing today?

[00:40] Josh>
Today we're building laser-cut cardboard crossbows.
We're using Inkscape - open source image editing software - combined with a full spectrum laser cutter to cut out pieces of cardboard in the shape of a crossbow.
From there we use a combination of dowel rods, rubber bands, duct tape, hot glue to put those pieces together and build a simple - kind of nerf gun style - crossbow that shoots about 10 to 40 feet, depending on the tension of the rubber band.

[01:05] Rob>
Can you just go through the steps to build the crossbow?

[01:09] Josh>
Basically, the first step is designing in Inkscape the basic layout.
We provide people with a simple template ink Inkscape, from there they modify things;
This is a unicorn from a Deviant Art user - they're pretty awesome, they've got a bunch of really cool line art.
We added that to the template.
We then took that image file, loaded up on RetinaEngrave over here, and that allows you to change the power settings and speed settings.
So we've got slightly different settings for cutting out the cardboard versus etching out the actual unicorn drawing.
Once you've done that, you've got roughly 5 pieces here, 5 sections of cardboard, you sandwich them together, leaving a little bit of space for the trigger to move.
Using just a standard wine cork, we're using a piece of metal out of a clothes hanger, and drinking straws and a rubber band and a dowel rod.
So this is all stuff that you can get at a local hardware store, just things that you might have sitting around the house.
Altogether the actual parts for this is probably less than a dollar, which is really, really awesome.
You don't have to have a laser cutter to build this; we just .. any excuse to use a laser cutter is a good excuse.

[02:09] Rob>

[02:10] Josh>
From there you attach the rubber bands, the dowel rod - the dowel rod just goes through a quarter inch hole here, tie rubber bands around, pull the rubber band back, pull the trigger, rubber band shoots forward, and you have a bolt here that launches - and that's usually just made out of a slightly larger drinking straw, slightly bigger dowel rod, which fit conveniently well inside pencil sharpeners as some of the kids have found out.
It's a really fun project.
It's cool because if we're working with kids, you're using tools and technology that they don't normally use.
It gives them the realization that you don't necessarily have to go out and buy a new nerf gun, you can modify a nerf gun, you can build something out of cardboard, dowel rods and rubber bands.
If you take it a step further, you can teach kids a little bit about potential energy versus kinetic energy, tension, inertia - there's a whole bunch of really basic subjects that you can teach people out of a project like this.
So it's not just 'building a weapon', there's a whole exercise in knowledge and work that you get to instill with people.
And they have a ton of fun doing it.

[03:13] Rob>
So what's the group of kids you're working with?

[03:15] <TITLE>
The SlashdotTV logo bar appears with the text "URL: http://emubrightfutures.org/ [emubrightfutures.org]"

[03:15] Josh>
The group is called Bright Futures, and that's a program run out of Eastern Michigan University, they do a really good job of finding schools that might need a bit more of a reason for the kids to be interested in sciences, technology, stem[?] type stuff.
We take projects like this to elementary, to high school, students.
It's not meant to be a replacement for a math class or a replacement for a science class, it's meant to be something that says "Hey, this is something cool you can do with a little bit of knowledge - and the more you know, the better you can build it, the quicker you can make it, the more awesome it can be."
We're usually taking people.. the staff that teach those are usually people between the ages about 18 and 24, so it's kind of a big brother/big sister; the kids really look up to the people that come into the classes and teach them.

[03:58] Rob>
So all the people who teach those classes, they're all volunteers?

[04:01] Josh>
Pretty much.
We do pay basic.. we call it, kind of, "lunch and gas" money, but for the most part it's very much a volunteer situation.
It turns into almost a social outing for the staff that are going.
They get together with 3 or 4 friends, they get to kind of introduce some kids into an interesting subject, they have a fun time going out there - it's an hour or two out of their day - and at the end of they feel good because they're like "Sweet! I just had a bunch of 7th- and 8th-graders thinking that I was doing something amazing and awesome with them, and they're a little bit more excited about science and math."

[04:32] Rob>
Is this the first project you've done with them, or?

[04:34] Josh>
No, we've been working with them for about 2 or 3 years now.
It's everything from model rockets to.. this week we're doing DIY dry ice film canister rockets, so just popping a piece of dry ice into a film canister, letting it heat up a little bit just with the heat around them that's exciting the molecules, building up pressure, and having the film canister pop up and launch 20 or 30 feet.
So we've done that, we've done DIY bandanas, we've done all sorts of just fun, random exercises that get them a little bit more interested in science, technology..

[05:06] Rob>
Do you play with all that stuff here, or do you go to actual schools, or some place..

[05:10] Josh>
Most of the time - this is actually.. we do almost all of our work outside, as far as classes - outside of here.
We started to do more classes here.
We're trying to have them more regularly - obviously it's a lot easier for us to do that down here, because we don't have to take it other places.
The bad part is that we haven't quite gotten in the habit of preparing down here for the classes that we're doing down here, whereas for the Bright Futures stuff, we usually spend a few hours ahead of time preparing the kids, getting everything kind of pre-assembled going out there, and then working with the kids at a school.
We're going up to Wayne Westland, Ypsilanti, Willow Run, and we've just started doing work with the downtown library and the Hands-On museum here in Ann Arbor.

[05:53] Josh>
It's just a lot of fun to make stuff.
Even if you're doing it at home, find something to make!

[05:57] <TITLE>
"URL: http://www.allhandsactive.com [allhandsactive.com]" appears over the shot of Josh with the SlashdotTV logo bar reading "Josh Williams @ All Hands Active 'Ann Arbor's Makerspace'", before the frame freezes and fades to grey.

[05:57] Josh>
There's a million different things you can do.

Re:Transcript (1)

Ihmhi (1206036) | about 2 years ago | (#39703969)

Thanks for this. Slashdot should really have these things go up automatically with every video. -.-

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