STEAM Camp #2

Due to popular demand of our STEAM Camp announcement at Spacelab, and because we’ve received several requests for a camp that runs after the holidays, Spacelab is now offering a second STEAM camp that runs from 1/12-2/16. You can sign up for that one here.

And! There are still some spots left for the camp that runs from 11/10-12/15. That one can be signed up at this link.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Session 10 – Otherworldly Sounds, Amateur Radio, and the Ur of Maker Culture with Brian Davis

I talk with Brian Davis (W9HLQ of HAMFesters Radio Club), amateur radio operator and educator of future HAMs. Brian has been an operator for over half a century, and has seen the shift to computerization, and now, has started working with makerspaces to pass on his knowledge of amateur radio to others. In this session, we talk about the HAM community, how it relates to maker and tinkerer culture, one of Brian’s newest inventions, and some of the weird sounds and other things you hear when you’re on air.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Spacelab STEAM Camp in Mokena Messenger!

SpaceLab’s STEAM Camp was recently featured in a really nice piece for our local paper, the Mokena Messenger! Go pick up a paper and check it out, and while you’re at it, check out our camp, too.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Session 9 – We Have a YouTube Channel! Andrew Morin and Jay Margalus Talk TSW* Videocast

Andrew Morin and Jay Margalus, new co-hosts of the TSW* YouTube Channel, talk about what they would’ve done differently in TSW* Videocast Ep. 1 (hint: a lot) and some of the projects that they unveiled during the show episode. Check out the first TSW* Videocast at


Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Escaping the Hyperreal

I think the problem I was trying to address when I first started building alternative controllers, which is what they’re called now, is to move beyond the pre-packaged experience that video game consoles give us. But, the problem that I quickly encountered was that an alternative controller didn’t address the entire problem. It only addressed a third of it — the controller. But there’s still the screen, and there’s still the game console. So you’re not really breaking out of the box when two-thirds of it are still controlled by someone else.

And what I think, or what I’ve come to realize, over time is that I wasn’t really fighting against the nature of consoles necessarily, but the nature of everything. That is to say, our current problem with consoles is really just a microcosm for the problem of everything: we’re using things that we don’t have control over, and that we don’t understand how they work, and as a result everything around us is magic, and nobody knows how anything works.

And when that happens, when you move away from objects being real objects, things that you use… then you move away from the real. You shift away from the tangible. Everything becomes, in a sense, ephemeral. This is the hyperreal. The hyperreal doesn’t just exist because of screens and virtual reality, although certainly that’s part of the problem. The hyperreal exists because we’re unable to determine what is real because we don’t know how things work.

And to break out of the hyperreal, it’s not enough to change the nature of an interface, and it’s not enough to change the console and way of injesting information. You must make the player a participant in the creation of the game. They must tinker with the game in order to understand it. They need to construct it, if not in whole, in part.

By doing that, I think you begin to break away from the hyperreal.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Speaking at Future Workforce Conference

I’ll be speaking on a panel at BuildWorlds’ Future Workforce Conference on 11/29 about “Future Schools: How Leading Programs are retooling to Meet the Challenge.” Hope to see you all there!

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Southland Maker Faire Year 5

After four years of about even attendee numbers (~1,000/year), the board of Southland Mini Maker Faire sat down and decided to delay the event until we could give it the attention that it needed to grow. As we put together a new (and larger) board to help guide our vision, I wanted to share one important note: we have a date!

Southland Mini Maker Faire will be on March 2nd. Pending confirmation from the Pipefitter’s Training Center, we will be hosting the event there again. Plan to see many more exhibitors, a more concentrated effort to wrangle larger exhibits, and a renewed emphasis on STEAM education in the surrounding community.

Save the date! Hope to see you all there.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Spacelab Winter STEAM Camp

We’ve been working on getting this out for the last couple months, but couldn’t bring ourselves to release it until it was *just right*. Well, I’m happy to announce that finally, I think, we’ve got the makings of an excellent STEAM program at Spacelab. Check it out.

Make something cool, tinker and learn, and take it home.

While at STEAM camp, students ages 6-10 make customized tech-projects. They learn about design, engineering, science, and applied mathematics. The registration fee includes project materials, and students take home their completed projects at the end of the session. Our teachers are professional educators with over 10 years experience and expertise in mathematics, technology, and design.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Philosophy of Making Presentation

Systems have become complex. Hard to navigate. As a result, it’s incredibly difficult to discern how the things around us work. This problem — not knowing how things work — has led to a symptom we’re all aware of: mistrusting the real. We question scientific facts (like the earth being round), well-regarded and verified information, even the sincerity of others. In other words, we are questioning reality itself. And it’s very easy to dismiss and deride these symptoms until we realize that they are part of a broader problem: people not having access to the information, knowledge, and ways of thinking that allows them to trust the systems around them. Systems, then, are part of the unknowable to your average student. And one of the greatest human fears is the fear of the unknown… instead of scratching below the surface and digging into the unknown, we build on top of it.

Here are the slides from a presentation I’ve been working on for a long time: The Philosophy of Making. I would highly recommend downloading and checking out the speaker notes as well.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus

Idea Realization Lab September Updates

For purposes of transparency, and in case it might be useful for other makerspace organizers, I’ll continue to share the numbers, stories, and photos from the Idea Realization Lab every month. Here’s our September report.

Jay Margalus is on Twitter at @jaymargalus