Makerspaces are popping up all over the USA and the world. Some of them start quickly when a team of people see a need in a school or library. Others, like STEAM Junction in Burlington, North Carolina, start by first building a community.
The Alamance Makers Guild started in 2011 as a way to engage with area residents who wanted to gather around making things. It was open to people of all ages and encouraged people to start small maker-type businesses, what I like to call Small Urban Manufacturers (SUM), and to create new manufacturing jobs for the county.
Those efforts became the Burlington Mini Maker Faire and that group’s efforts, spearheaded by Bennett Harris (himself an entrepreneur and creator of the well-known Reinventing Edison DIY kits), became the STEAM Junction – a for-profit makerspace that is deeply tied to the community.
I first met Ben when I was one of the early mini Maker Faire organizers for my local area. Then we met at the Atlanta mini Maker Faire while I was on the national 3DRV roadtrip. He keeps me apprised of his many projects and as I started talking about the HP Sprout he reached out.
“I had seen the HP Sprout advertised before it was available for purchase and immediately knew that this new paradigm in PC interaction was perfect for educational and creative use. I liked the fact that the Sprout is a powerful windows PC in its own right (processor, speed, storage, memory, screen size) but also has many new and intuitive ways to interact and create content and designs,” Ben said.
Ben knew that the Sprout would fit well into their new STEAM Junction Makerspace and purchased the Sprout before he even signed a lease on the building. Like me, Ben is often looking at the many different apps and uses for them with the wide range of people who visit or use the space: from K-12 students to adults – all doing creative projects.
Using 3D apps can be challenging sometimes, so the easier to use the better. Ben and his team have been happily using Leopoly for 3D as a design tool (photo of vase above) in addition to the stop-motion video application (which I wrote about here), and the ability to share the screen via WiDi and select on the fly between the screen, webcam, or mat camera for instructional presentations. I have not used this feature, but love the idea of it. Interacting via remote locations in this way is a great idea for distance learning, among others.
Check out this YouTube video of Ben getting interviewed by Dale Dougherty of Make Magazine and Maker Faire:
I have been a fan of Ben’s work and passion for many years. The new STEAM Junction makerspace is an exciting and important update from his growing town of Burlington, North Carolina. I’m eager to see what else they do in that new space.
Final Note: The HP Sprout Pro is a new kind of all-in-one computer that enables teachers and students to make, design, and customize the world around them. Let us know what you’re doing with Sprout by sharing ideas with me on Twitter and use the hashtag: #GoMakeThings.
Additional HP Sprout Resources
Disclosure: HP is a long-time client, having partly sponsored my national 3DRV roadtrip, and contracting me to do research and work on the Sprout. They have loaned me the HP Sprout Pro for part of this project.