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Mikaela Simmons shares Picademy Experience


Posted on August 3, 2017 by Keith Claussen

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Ms. Simmons is a Co-Lab member and teacher at Moline Coal-Valley Schools

IMG_4665From July 24-25, I attended Raspberry Pi’s Picademy in downtown Ann Arbor. For those of
you who are unfamiliar with Raspberry Pi, it is a $35 ‘mini computer’ that can be hooked onto a desktop as a computer replacement or can be used for coding projects and inventions. Picademy is a Raspberry Pi training session for educators that you have to apply and be accepted for. I found out at my training that there were over 1000 applications for Picademy training, which means that not everyone was accepted. As a music teacher, I was even more surprised that I was accepted.
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Before my time at Picademy, my experience with Raspberry Pi was limited. I was using it mostly as a desktop computer and I would follow the directions on how to program Python into Minecraft. One of my administrators saw the value in Raspberry Pi, especially with it having Minecraft as part of the software, and purchased some for our students to use. During my summer 3D Printing Boot Camps, I would have students play Minecraft while they waited for prints. Even thought Minecraft can be fun, I did not have any experience doing any sort of physical computing with the device, even though I purchased a breadboard and LEDs in hopes that one day I finally would sit down and ‘figure it out’.

Then I went to Picademy in Ann Arbor and learned ALL THE THINGS! I actually made an LED light blink on the breadboard- something I was too intimidated to do before. We then moved on to making cameras and taking selfies (which were photobombed by our friendly staff), and making emojis with an LED Sense Hat. As someone who likes lots of color, I was very impressed with the sense hat and can probably spend all day doing color combinations and messages with it. We also used an Explorer Hat to operate a wheel, which can bridge into robotics, and some music coding with Sonic Pi. As a music educator and tech enthusiast, I hope to implement Sonic Pi into my own classrooms (trying to make an electronic music lab).IMG_4667

Besides the fun in making all of these projects, I met some really positive educators that were very enthusiastic and passionate about Raspberry Pi. For Day Two, I was in a group project in which one of our members, Kelly, had an idea to make a mood ring not only display the color that you were feeling, but to also play the music that corresponds to each feeling. In our group of six, we had two people work on each part of our project: the temperature sensor, the sense hat pixels, and getting music into Python. No surprise, I worked on putting music into Python.

AND IT WAS DIFFICULT!

Our instructors told us that failure was going to happen and that it should be embraced, but I failed so much in two hours trying to get the music from my MacBook to the Pi, and into Python. My coding-partner-in-crime, Emily, and I searched GitHub for all sorts of code trying to get our music into Python and we were unsure if we could pull it off by the time we needed to present- but with about a half hour to go we had the code needed and finally put together all three components to present to our colleagues. I wish I had taken a video, but I do have a picture of the project.
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At the end of Picademy I was so excited to drive back home for six hours and get started on tinkering with Raspberry Pi, and I have had some success making a sense hat emulator sparkle and tried to do a RetroPie video game emulator that I eventually wasn’t happy with and restored my Pi to its natural state. I have some plans for my Girls Tech Clubs this year on the Raspberry Pi and am excited to see what they come up with.

In closing, I highly recommend teachers to apply for Picademy. The Raspberry Pi is super affordable and the opportunities are endless. There is so much support out there and if one is a little intimidated, Picademy would boost their confidence. The staff was wonderful and fun, and everyone in the room has a common goal- to learn how to use these tools in order to teach successful students.


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Co-Lab member launches Kickstarter campaign


Posted on March 20, 2017 by Keith Claussen

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So, what has our laser cutter been up to lately at the QC Co-Lab? Making parts for a Kickstarter campaign, of course!

Roscoe Vertein has been working on prototypes and samples the last couple of months at the Co-Lab. He recently launched his Kickstarter campaign, Boffin’s Beneficial Battle Box: Decks, Dice, and other stuff.

The idea came to him one day, thinking about something he could build and sell. His passion for table top gaming made him wonder, “what would be a cool thing I could build?”

This epiphany moved Roscoe to start working on designs for the Battle Box. In all, he estimates that he drafted 100 designs in CAD over a two-month period. From those, he picked two for the next phase: prototyping.

From prototyping to making finished product, being a member of the QC Co-Lab has been instrumental in not only having access to tooling he’d never be able to use otherwise but also the brain trust of the other members bouncing ideas around and giving input.

“The more perspectives you have, the group perspective is better than just mine. It’s like having other creative people problem solving on your behalf,” said Roscoe. He’s felt the community here at the Co-Lab has been very supportive.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been some frustration along the way. “Getting into the right hands to get you in front of the community has been tough,” Roscoe said of looking for people willing to look at the Battle Box or promote to their particular fan bases, which would be interested in the product.

However, this has not discouraged Roscoe from working or promoting his idea to local businesses or at trade shows. Everything he’s made so far has either sold or is spoken for.

One of his biggest investments in time spent has been on the build process. “Production method changes have been time well spent.” Roscoe went from nearly a week build time to four in 2 ½ days.

The Boffin’s Beneficial Battle Box features storage space for cards, dice, pencils, and dice jails for your favorite tabletop games. The lid also opens and lays flat for a place to roll dice or set items out during a game. Please check out the Kickstarter here for more information or to support the project.

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Latex Mask & Sculpting Class


Posted on September 29, 2016 by Keith Claussen

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UPDATE: The class is now full, please stay tuned for new classes, new topics, electronics, computers, wood shop, and more!

Learn how to professionally sculpt, cast & finish a latex mask for Halloween, play or movie. The class is only $25 per person for four two hour sessions, and all materials are included so you get to take the mask home! If interested, please sign up online at https://goo.gl/w9bPZj or email us at [email protected] if you have questions. Seating is limited.

Session 1: Tuesday, October 11, 6pm

Session 2: Saturday, October 15, 1pm

Session 3: Tuesday, October 18, 6pm

Session 4: Saturday, October 22, 1pm

Makeup times are available as needed / requested.

Location: The QC Co-Lab, The Quad Cities Makerspace

627 W2nd St

Davenport, IA 52801


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Juggling Classes


Posted on July 19, 2016 by Keith Claussen

We are hosting classes in Juggling at the Co-Lab the first week in August! Please see the following schedule and fill out the signup form if you’re interested. Space is limited.

Signup form

Aug 1, 6pm to 7, $5, Beginner juggling, scarves, 1-3 beanbags/balls and basic patterns

Aug 2, 6pm to 7, $10, Intermediate to Advanced juggling, +3 objects and more patterns
Aug 3, 6pm to 7, $15, Clubs
Aug 4, 6pm to 7, $15, Flower sticks
Aug 5, 6pm to 7, $20 plus materials, DIY juggling props: bags, clubs, flower sticks

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QC MakeFest 2016 – Save the date!


Posted on May 1, 2016 by Keith Claussen

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The QC Co-Lab is hosting the Second Annual QC MakeFest on Saturday, July 16, 2016 at The RiverCenter in Davenport, Iowa.

We are currently doing an open call for exhibitors, vendors and volunteers. If you would like to be a part of QC MakeFest, please register at www.qccolab.com/qcmakefest or email [email protected] for more information as soon as possible. Space is limited. MakeFest is open to the public and all are invited.

What is a MakeFest?

MakeFest is a family-friendly event designed to showcase learning and making in the areas of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics. There will be demonstrations in robotics, quadcopter / multirotor copters, virtual reality (VR), 3D printing, individuals displaying their projects and vendors selling a variety of products, many of which are personally made.

We hope to see you there!


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New space now open for members


Posted on September 18, 2015 by Keith Claussen

We are still in the process of setting things up, but we are open to our membership at
627 2nd St. in Davenport, IA!

Please stop by to visit, tinker with a project, or lend a hand working on the space. We got 12,000 sq. ft. (main floor alone) of totally awesome that needs a little TLC at the moment.

Our regular business meetings (3rd Saturday each month) are also going again. We’ll be meeting tomorrow, Sept. 19th, at 1 p.m. at the (new) space.

We’re not quite ready for public tours just yet, but we will be posting updates on that soon, along with details about our grand re-opening!

This is shaping up to be a busy fall & winter for us, so please check our homepage, Facebook & email list regularly for updates.

Hope to see you back soon!

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Midwest Makerfest 2015


Posted on August 8, 2015 by Keith Claussen

The QC Co-Lab made the trip out to Peoria, IL for the 1st Annual Midwest Makerfest, hosted by River City Labs & Ignite Peoria!

The usual bag of tricks were on display for all to see & experience.

Thanks to Ben Ziegler, Nick Benge, Keith Claussen, April Choi, Dana & Mark Kruse for making the trip!

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MakeFest a big hit!


Posted on July 28, 2015 by Keith Claussen

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With the 1st Annual MakeFest in the books, our editors have finally recovered enough to get some media published from the event.

A big thanks to all of our sponsors – AnimeCon.org, Aquent IT Solutions, Crafted Quad Cities, DCS Computer Services, Eric’s Gear, Muddy Water Press, Hamilton Tech, & Xtream powered by Mediacom.

Also, thank you to our vendors, attendees & volunteers for making this happen!

Save the date: July 16th, 2016 for an even bigger & better show!

Photos & videos courtesy of Therese Guise and Keith Claussen. Special thanks to Dave Langkamp on the assist with the video editing.

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