Automata at Tam Makers

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Automata at Tam Makers
Maker Projects
Image by fabola
A group of North Bay Maker Educators came to Tam Makers to learn how to create automata (a.k.a. kinetic or mechanical sculptures). This special meetup was organized by Adam Singer, technology / maker educator at Davidson Middle School, and my partner Geo Money, engineering teacher at Tam High School. Geo started by giving folks a tour of our incredible makerspace and wood shop, which we use in the evenings for wood working and maker classes at Tam Makers. We then gave a joint presentation about our Art Float for Social Change: earlier this year, we led over a hundred volunteers to create this large-scale, community-built, socially-conscious automaton, to inspire more people to participate in community life.

Geo then invited a dozen maker educators from Marin and the East Bay to create their own automaton, using special parts he had prepared for this occasion. Participants make their automata move round and round, side to side or up and down, using foam cams attached to bamboo sticks, sliding through 3D-printed guides on a wooden box.

This automata workshop was a great way to learn basic principles of mechanical engineering in a playful, hands-on activity that delighted everyone. We hope that students will enjoy creating their own automata as much as their teachers did!

This was one of our most fun and productive workshop at Tam Makers this year, because we were working with such creative and experienced teachers, who shared a lot of practical advice, and created with some really ingenious projects in just an hour.

Featured participants from North Bay Maker Educators include: Sara Bolduc, Claire Comins, Walt Hays, Nate MacDonald, Andrew Maley, Lisa Skinner, Paige Teamey, Jae Tillinghast, Dave Whaley, as well as Edomyas, Fred, James and Mike, to name but a few.

To see what they created, check out this video:

See more pictures from this workshop in our photo album:

Learn how to create your own Cardboard Automata:

Learn more about North Bay Maker Educators:

Learn more about Tam Makers:

Pataphysical Winter Art – March 2018
Maker Projects
Image by fabola
This winter, we made good progresss building a new Time Machine at Pataphysical Studios, our art collective in Mill Valley, where surrealism meets the maker culture.

The Pataphysical Time Machine invites you to travel to different periods from our past, present and future. We are creating a playful experience, which we hope to intrigue, enchant and engage visitors through a unique mix of art, multimedia, theater and technology.

Here are highlights of what we created together this winter:
• Dr. Figurine created two new characters: Anubis and the Creature from the Future Lagoon
• Dr. Rindbrain made an illuminated frame for the Time Machine’s main screen
• Dr. Fabio built wooden cases for the small screens in the Time Machine cockpit
• Dr. Heatshrink developed software to control the time travel experience with Raspberry Pi
• Dr. Luis built an infrastructure for Time Machine devices to interact with each other with Node Red
• Dr. Zboon created a fresco of new characters for the Time Machine’s inner panels
• Drs. Figurine and Rindbrain created a colorful photo collage for the Time Machine’s entrance
• Drs. Heatshrink and Fabio displayed videos and images to Time Machine’s main screen
• Drs. Heatshrink and Rindbrain displayed videos in the Time Machine’s small screens

We are working in creative teams to design and build different parts of the Time Machine, combining interactive art with lights, sound and motion powered by Arduino and Raspberry Pi — as well as producing short videos of the different times you will travel to.

By the end of the year, we hope to invite our guests to go through a short interactive ritual during their visit: walk around the exhibit, step into a magic portal, pick a time to visit, travel to that time, meet its characters and return back to the present.

It’s a true pleasure to see this collective art project come to life, in front of our eyes. Can’t wait to see what it will look like in a year!

Vive la ‘pataphysique!

View recent ‘Pataphysical photos:

Read our design spec for the Time Machine:

Learn more about Pataphysical Studios:

Playing Checkers at Convert Capitol Avenue Week in Downtown Lansing – Day 2 Photo by Michigan Municipal League
Maker Projects
Image by Michigan Municipal League (MML)
Capitol Avenue in downtown Lansing traverses some of the most important buildings in Michigan, including the state’s Capitol, Lansing City Hall and sky rises containing offices of state legislators.

It’s often the location of marches, parades and rallies. Despite all that, the one-way, six-lane-wide Capitol Avenue is clearly for cars, not people. However, a group of placemaking-focused individuals, led by the Michigan Municipal League, is hoping to change that.

The League, in partnership with the City of Lansing and Downtown Lansing, Inc., is organizing “Convert Capitol Avenue Week”—a series of activities and events July 27-31 to show how a lively, interactive, people-focused street can happen on Capitol Avenue.

“We’ve been studying Capitol Avenue for a while for its potential as a valuable public space in downtown,” said Samantha Harkins, President of the Michigan Municipal League Foundation. “This Convert Capitol Avenue Week is to help get the conversation started about how Capitol Avenue can become the heart of downtown Lansing’s public space.”

Lansing Mayor Virg Bernero said the city has made tremendous improvements to Washington Square’s business district to make it more attractive and pedestrian-friendly, and it makes sense to also focus on Capitol Avenue as one of the city’s premiere public spaces.

“The Michigan Capitol Building is a great anchor institution, and people often drive by without a glance because the road is designed to move traffic quickly through the area rather than accommodating walking, biking and expanded public use of the surrounding spaces,” Bernero said. “It can feel intimidating for people to cross Capitol Avenue from City Hall to the Capitol, and I believe we’re missing an opportunity to capitalize on this area. Convert Capitol Avenue Week will help people see the tremendous possibilities for making this key part of our community a more accessible and welcoming public gathering spot.”

Harkins said the League is taking the lead on this street project because of its potential, its high visibility to state lawmakers and decision makers, and the fact that the League’s Lansing office is located along Capitol Avenue in the Christman Building at 208 N. Capitol. Making Capitol Avenue more pedestrian and community friendly also is in line with the League’s long-time focus to create places that people love.
Activities planned for July 28-31 include a temporary street transformation of Capitol Avenue between Ottawa and Allegan streets. The west driving lane and parking lane will be closed to vehicle traffic to show how the street can better meet the diverse transportation needs of walkers, bikers and drivers.

Additional events planned are:

July 28 and July 29 – Park(ing) Days: Community partners will transform parking spaces into fun, creative parklets for enjoyment by the public.

July 30 – Farmers Market: A thriving marketplace that showcases Michigan food and agricultural products will set up shop on the east lawn of the Capitol Building.

July 31 – Fitness Friday: The Capitol lawn will spring to life with active recreation in the form of a yoga class and lawn games.

For additional information contact Samantha Harkins at [email protected], 517-908-0306, or the League’s Derek Tisler at [email protected], 517-908-0302. Check out the Convert Capitol Avenue webpage for details and the latest updates:

We would love to hear from you.



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