Posts Tagged ‘ fab lab ’

Ecto – Because Bleezer Doesn’t Like Me

This post (if it even reaches the web) was written using Ecto. I tried Bleezer (a free desktop publishing tool) but couldn’t figure out the correct port for my self hosted WordPress blog (why do I need a port??).
Anyway, now I can write offline (without writing in MS Word or whatever) and post it directly. Or, if you think about it – I’ve just found another way to use up space on my already full hard drive. 🙂 Maybe the upside will be that my post increase in quality and thoughtfulness…hmm.
I stopped by the lab today after most everyone had gone. The kids that were there and had been there yesterday asked me why I hadn’t come in. Our group was able to hold down the fort – so hopefully we are well on our way to making my instruction optional. 🙂
I tried something in class the other day (a new teaching technique) that worked really well. I think I’m getting better at this. I’m excited.
All of my books are on their way (finally) :). I sent back that $100+ pamphlet that they called a textbook and got a used one for $80… -_-

Orientation starts in a week…hmm. Am I ready for this? Of course that’s a senseless question seeing that wether I’m ready or not – life keeps coming. To that point I’m realizing more and more that my schedule is my life line. I’m already off right now so this post must end.
We’ve gotten between 35 and 50 kids through the lab in the past 3 weeks. Now the staff are interested. They want to make shirts. We’re going to plan a staff night. 🙂
A Russian supply rocket, headed to the ISS crashed today. It didn’t even get into orbit. I think we should try a space shuttle. Of course NASA says that, even in light of the difficulty that the Russians are having with getting into space – we don’t need the shuttles.
I shook my head and laughed.


I (really) miss traveling…

Facebook is really rubbing it in this time. I just saw a note “From this time in 2009” (August 15 2009) which read

Destination: India Please keep us n your prayers! Courage to Stand shoutout!

By the time this week is over, I will most likely have posted a travel blog…I can feel it coming on. 🙂

At any rate, I must needs depart from you with nary a word, as I have 4 essays to write tomorrow morning (full length essays mind you) and a class of excited youngsters to teach in the afternoon.

I had planned on doing the t-shirt tutorial today…but life had other ideas (like going to the lab and teaching decidedly un-geeky adults how to fabricate with the vinyl cutter).

It appears that I’ll have to return one of my textbook supplements as it appears to be the wrong edition. -_-


Reminicence: from this time last year

You get two post today. 🙂

I just saw this on Facebook and hadd to share. 🙂 This time last year I was in the Netherlands, traveling solo. I was there for a conference (Fab6 actually) and had just found out that one of my dream destinations was nearby where I was staying (I was in Amsterdam).

This snippet is from my Facebook wall:

“Makeda’s Profile · Makeda’s Wall

Makeda Stephenson
‎*sings* I’m gonna go to Harlem, I’m gonna go to Harlem…la la la XD

I just found out that the Ten Boom House is a museum and gives free tours!! YAY!!! (Context: I read The Hiding Place 2or 3 times before I was 11& watched the movie) *stops and thinks realistically* I really hope I get to go to Harlem… 😐

I found the church…(a medal would be in order..smh). Had a great Sabbath so far 😀
August 14, 2010 at 1:04pm · Privacy: · Like ·
Donalyn Parker Stephenson likes this.
Donalyn Parker Stephenson Excellent!! GO!! Try to take J.J. with you. It is always nicer to tour with company. Even if is only a bunch of stuffed polyester!! I’m glad that you found the church. How was it? Did the people speak to you in English? Were they friendly? By the way– you started reading the hiding place around 5 yrs. This is a BIG opportunity for you!!! When can we Skype you?
August 14, 2010 at 4:17pm · Like”

So, right now, I had hoped to be in Lima, Peru. But this year, for the first time since I started highschool, my summer has not included a long-distance (usually overseas) trip.
My summer has been productive, but I very much miss the pure joy of being someplace new and far away. That said, I’m incredibly excited as, for the first time, I’m running our own brand new lab my very own community! This fab lab is very much a dream come true for me in many ways.
Therefore, I shelve my wander lust and log onto the video conference for Fab7 – from the Roxbury YMCA Fab Lab.


My Glass Slippers

My friend sent me this cute little quote today. It reads as follows: “Cinderella is proof that a new pair of shoes can change your life.”

My life is changing so – I guess it’s time for a new pair of show-stoppingly gorgeous, perfectly beautiful, goddesses-in-their-own-right shoes to help out.
Pour La Victoire baby 🙂


I thought about it a few seconds longer and changed my mind. My glass slippers look more like this:

This change in my life is all about hard work. It’s about carrying myself well, getting where I need to go, getting done what I need to get done. It’s about discipline, focus, training. It’s about being flexible, getting a grip and staying in motion.
My glass slippers are supportive, and durable. They’ll keep me protected and mobile. If I were to loose one somehow (dancing?), it’ll have a micro chip in it so they’ll know it’s mine. 🙂

I’m immensely thankful. My fever broke today after 5 days (4 with high temperatures and 2 with even higher sustained temperatures). I no longer feel like a dragon of sorts and am not having very thin (relating to the mental barriers between real life and other life) dreams about Narnia like lands. I’m perfectly fine. The last time something similar happened, I didn’t get out unscathed. But that was when I was little.

I was a little bit warm/weak this morning but by the time I finished the latest order of stuff for the lab, I was almost normal. This ordering process did happen to include a time intensive (I won’t tell you just how much time I speak of) and at best, traumatic journey throughout the mazes of DigiKey in the search for a “red 5 mm led” (yes, I dare you to search it. Do it. Go to and search it.). DigiKey is on of my favorite sites ever – because it has everything, which, in this case, worked decidedly against me. I learned a bit about LEDs however and I’m sure it helped me regain strength of some kind 🙂

I bought a Moleskine planner today. I’ll post pictures when it arrives.


Fabable Arduinos, Wireless LEDs and Other Cool Things

Yes, those are lights in the table – “Look Ma, no wires!” (Read about it and link to the article towards the end of this post.)

FAFSA must be trippin’ (as is said in the vernacular of the day). They raised my EFC. At this point I’m not sure why.

Our government must be “trippin'” as well. Word is, they’re aiming to create a new legislative body called a “Super Congress”. Click here to read about it. This body would have special powers to draft legislation. It’s supposed to be for situations like the one we’re in now with the debt ceiling debate (a political debate turned civil war(of sorts). Politicians refer to each-other as adversaries. I didn’t know we had all moved to England.) For some reason I didn’t hear anything about this provision in our Constitution.

I’m going to make a point to watch old (’80s or older) movies (in what little time I might happen to have to watch movies 🙂 ). I’ve seen two so far: The Princess Bride and Hairspray(the 1988 version).

I’m officially finished everything my school needs me to finish to allow for matriculation – and…I ordered my books today! (Super excited XD).

In other exciting news: Our first materials shipment (for the Fab Lab) came in!! I went over to MIT today to pick it up, and then spent some time in the lab testing and getting everything working. It’s so great to see how everything is coming together.
Roxbury/Dorchester/Grove Hall: the Fab Lab is moving in!
This is so great for me because it has been one of my dreams to have a Fab Lab in my neighborhood. It’s been a dream of mine for a few years. I can’t wait for our first program day!

Interesting things I found today:

A transparent film allows LEDs (and other electrical components) to be embedded in transparent materials (i.e. glass) without any apparent wiring. Check it out here.

Also, a project I am looking forwards to trying out: Fabbing Leah Buechley’s Lily Pad Sew-able Arduino design. Shelby Doyle (one of Neil’s graduate students) did it and here is her documentation. I’ll let you all know how mine turns out. This is a variation on Ed Baafi’s Fabduino project.

Here’s the Lily Pad:

Here’s the design:

Here’s my goal (from Shelby’s documentation):

Day 28
72 Dayz to go

We Are Both The Backbone and Future of America: Listen to Us.

The American people may have voted for divided government, but they didn’t vote for a dysfunctional government.

I’m not rich. My family isn’t rich. And it had nothing to do with us being lazy. My dad is one of the best science teachers in one of Boston’s toughest Public schools: a distinction he earned from years of excellent service. He was even a finalist in the Einstein Fellowship competition. We are all active in our community. My brother is an MLK Scholar for two years now and was selected to speak as a teen empowerment speaker to the 600 youth in the John Hancock summer youth program. He spoke on how he has started his own photography business. He mentioned how he has worked through various challenges – including a severe hand injury. He continues to coax professional quality images out of a point-and-shoot tourist camera – as neither he nor his family can afford a higher end, more professional machine.

I will be a freshman in college this year. I will be majoring in Biomedical Engineering. However, my career began 4 years ago. For the past 4 years I have worked and served as a youth teacher in informal STEM education. I have worked with professional educators to develop STEM programs for young people based on my own experiences. I teach people ages 4 and up the basics of digital fabrication and modern engineering. I’m working with a project right now to bring access to modern fabrication technology to the members of my community. We are the Technology, Innovation and Entrepreneurship Project (TIE Project). We just installed our first temporary lab in our local YMCA. I have been invited by MIT to travel internationally and share my experiences at symposia. I’ve served as a lab manager and technician in two different community labs and traveled around the US and abroad, consulting, developing programs and teaching.

We are contributing citizens. Hard working, patriotic Americans. However, for the first 15 years of my life, my family (which soon totaled 6 persons) and I lived in a 1 bedroom apartment in the depressed area of Dorchester, Massachusetts. Why did/do we stay in this situation? Because our income vs the cost of living simply doesn’t allow us to afford otherwise.

In light of this, you can imagine that it really bothers me when I hear government officials and policy makers pushing rhetoric that suggests that we, the other 99% of Americans just need to work harder. We need to pay more taxes and let go of some of our entitlements. I wonder what is the purpose of government, in their eyes since its not to support its citizens. Not when you suggest cuts to Medicare and education, social security and welfare programs.

No. We don’t want big government. We don’t want the government to tap our phone lines and tell us which bank to trust with our money, or where to buy our clothes, or how to raise our children. Or strip search us at the airport, or ask us for our “papers” at random checkpoints.

We want our government to let us protect ourselves and we want it to help us do that. We want it to use its vast resources to put food in the mouth of our American children, who’s parents are working as hard as they can to keep up with rent, utilities, education, clothing and food for their families but because of inflation and a million other things – just can’t make it. We want our government to help us care for our elderly who have devoted their lives to building up this country. We want our government to help hard-working American students get a good education, so that we can join the workforce, care for ourselves and our families and build up this great country we call home.

Whatever happened to “serve and protect”? Whatever happened to “government for the people, by the people”? I want to know. Americans demand to know.

When I filled out my Federal Application For Student Aid (FAFSA) this year, in-spite of the size of our family and the fact that our financial obligations are very nearly equal to our income, our Estimated Family Contribution (EFC) was close to $10,000 per year. This is not something we can even begin to afford and excludes us from various sources of much needed help in the way of scholarships and grants. And with my brother starting college in the next couple of years? I wonder how this will happen.

The school that I am currently attending is meeting less than 25% of our demonstrated need according to FAFSA. My school gave me a merit scholarship based on the competitiveness of my application. The scholarship plus Federal Aid I received totaled $15,900 for the year, leaving us to scramble for the rest of the college’s $43,000 per year Cost of Attendance tag. I should mention that the entirety of federal aid I received was in the form of loans and work-study.

I remember one particular article on college financing that my mother and I read. This article was directed towards parents who were not helping pay for their child’s education. It suggested – nay implicitly stated, that the parents who do not pay for their child’s education are not willing to sacrifice – that they should care enough for their child to go with out that vacation to Aruba, or the weekly nights out. Neither of these (or similar expenses) are luxuries my family has ever taken. For example, we don’t even have cable. What do you say to caring, dedicated families who simply don’t have the money to educate their budding engineer? These people really and truly, do exist.

I want an answer to the question our President asked tonight regarding the debt ceiling:

How can we ask a student to pay more for college before we ask hedge fund managers to stop paying taxes at a lower rate than their secretaries? How can we slash funding for education and clean energy before we ask people like me to give up tax breaks we don’t need and didn’t ask for?

I’m not of the opinion that since you make more money then I do, I am entitled to some of what you make. Not at all. I am of the opinion that the strong ought to bear their burden just as well as the weak must bear theirs. Not pass it on for the weak to bear, in addition to their own. This kind of policy crushes and destroys. It kills the weak before they can become strong, which, if they were allowed to, would enable them to bear more of the burden.

Simply put: I am a hard working African-American woman with the potential, drive and desire to contribute much to her country. I have already begun in my local area. As you can see, it’s difficult for me to get the education I need to move on. If the government would choose to use its resources to make it possible (or rather stop making it close to impossible) for me and millions of other Americans like me to get the education we strive for, that would be one of the greatest and most productive economic investments the nation could make.


By cutting down the middle and lower economic classes of America, and keeping them in perpetual and ever more crushing financial slavery, we cut out the foundation out of our country. It is the government’s job to use its resources to nurture, serve and protect it’s people. A functional government does not stand back and feed the rich, turning it’s back on their abuse of the poor while the working class languishes and dies. This is what the French Monarchy did. Do you remember what that led to?

If we were to default, as our president said:

More of our tax dollars will go toward paying off the interest on our loans. Businesses will be less likely to open up shop and hire workers in a country that can’t balance its books. Interest rates could climb for everyone who borrows money – the homeowner with a mortgage, the student with a college loan, the corner store that wants to expand. And we won’t have enough money to make job-creating investments in things like education and infrastructure, or pay for vital programs like Medicare and Medicaid.

Washington, please don’t let this happen. Please serve and protect us like you are supposed to do. Like we elected you to do.

America’s Future (The People)

You can read the full text of tonight’s speaches here.

BIG NEWS: Today we installed the beginnings of the Roxbury/GroveHall Fab Lab in the YMCA! You have no idea how big this is for me. I’m sooo excited! XD

We are looking for volunteers. If you are interested, contact me at

Big Ambitionz
Day 26
74 Dayz to go

The Atlantis (thousands of highly skilled US engineers) Gets The Pink Slip

Welcome home Atlantis – you are a national hero and treasure. In honor of this occasion, I have been commissioned with the task of informing you that – you have been laid off.
You didn’t see that coming, did you?

STS-135 Atlantis Landing (201107210007HQ)

If you’ve read my blog in the past, you know that I strongly question the wisdom of ending the space shuttle program. Unfortunately, I wasn’t consulted. 🙂

I did find this awesome, incredibly nostalgic video online however. I am really quite sad about this. I nearly cried (teared up slightly – no sobbing). At any rate – I think this is my dormant thirst for space travel coming out. Its afraid it will now go unsatisfied forever (and ever). Click here to see it

I would blog about how mechanical and computer-like the medical professionals I interacted with today were…
Ok, I will – briefly. I told the nurse that I had never had a particular procedure – and she continued to tell me I had. (No, she didn’t have any records to prove that – and I had really and truly never had that procedure). It was like trying to input data in a form where the option you need isn’t there. And then they made me take tests that, based on previous information, couldn’t possibly have been positive.

Big news: TIE Project Update! (imagine me squealing with excitement – while jumping up and down) (no – don’t, I just did and it was a little disturbing)…but at any rate: We’re really getting a summer lab! I can feel it getting closer! I sent in the order for our “Fab Lab Inventory” sourced materials which should start arriving next week. Setup on Monday, lesson plans coming soon. It’s all so exciting how it’s coming together!

Day 23
77 Dayz to go

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