News & Events to Inspire STEAM Education


Breaking the Electrode Barrier: New Low-Cost Organic Solar Cells

Posted by on Sep 29, 2014

Now that global climate changed has been scientifically proven to be a present and future problem, researchers and companies alike are working all over all the world to come up...

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DIY Girls Social Celebrating Access to Innovation at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, Ca

Posted by on Dec 10, 2014

DIY Girls organization started by Founder Luz Rivas, empowers girls and women into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) fields by developing educational...

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Colonel (Ret) Richard Graham flew the world’s fastest and highest flying aircraft SR-71 Blackbird

Posted by on Dec 6, 2014

Colonel (Ret) Richard “Rich” Graham, SR-71 Pilot and prior Commander of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, recently spoke at the American...

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Circuit Scribe “Draw Your Own Circuits” at SoCal MakerCon

Posted by on Nov 28, 2014

Circuit Scribe was one of the innovative companies exhibited at SoCal MakerCon, an event that took place to inspire and empower people to collaborate and take initiative on their...

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DIY Girls Social Celebrating Access to Innovation at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, Ca

DIY Girls Social Celebrating Access to Innovation at Cross Campus in Santa Monica, Ca

Dec 10, 2014

DIY Girls organization started by Founder Luz Rivas, empowers girls and women into STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) fields by developing educational programs and events designed to encourage exploration with technology, promote self-confidence and support aspiration into technical careers. Since 2012, DIY Girls has inspired nearly 400 girls in learning new technical skills and creating innovative projects. The organization held a spectacular social offering event “celebrating access to innovation” for underserved girls in Los Angeles at venue & coworking space - Cross Campus in Santa Monica. Throughout the evening supporters and attendees were able to try out cool and cutting edge tech demos by companies Oculus Rift, virtual reality headset and, drone quadcopters, whiskey and tequila tastings and a silent auction.

“We are here tonight to support DIY Girls to help raise funds to support the efforts of Founder Luz Rivas and the number of other staff members that are serving young latino girls in the San Fernando area and making sure they are receiving exceptional after school STEM programming” – Liliana Monge, DIY Girls Board of Directors

In photo (left): Luz Rivas, Founder of DIY Girls; Claudia Espinosa, DIY Girls Board Member/Secretary; Liliana Monge, DIY Girls Board of Directors; Megan Westerby, DIY Girls Board Chair.

“We are really happy to be here to showcase and introduce drones to girls because it’s been a guy thing predominantly since the beginning of our industry, now we are starting to see a lot more girls get into it and it’s really awesome to see more female operators and interest ” – Adam Gibson,


“One thing that we have seen value in as a society is sending kids on field trips to do things, for most people reading in a text book is not the most efficient way to learn something, the problem is that right now, the people who can do these things are really geographically and socioeconomically limited. Virtual Reality is a technology that potentially enables students to experience education in other places and to get them on an even playing field so it’s not just for the elite few to learn about the arts and science.” – Oculus Rift Founder Palmer Luckey,

IMG_2073 Photo taken by Matt Terndrup at DIY Girls social event.

“DIY (“Do-It-Yourself”) Girls’ mission is to increase girls’ interest and success in technology, engineering and making through innovative educational experiences and mentor relationships. Our Goal is to help young girls create, build and experience technology from 5th grade – high school graduation.”-DIY Girls Organization

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Colonel (Ret) Richard Graham flew the world’s fastest and highest flying aircraft SR-71 Blackbird

Colonel (Ret) Richard Graham flew the world’s fastest and highest flying aircraft SR-71 Blackbird

Dec 6, 2014

Colonel (Ret) Richard “Rich” Graham, SR-71 Pilot and prior Commander of the 9th Strategic Reconnaissance Wing at Beale Air Force Base, recently spoke at the American Institute of Aeronautics & Astronautics (AIAA) San Gabriel Valley Section (SGV-AIAA) dinner event at the Beckham Grill in Pasadena, Ca. Col. Graham has flown the world’s fastest and highest flying aircraft, the SR-71 Blackbird, for 7 years during his 25 year Air Force career. He is author of four highly revealing and informative books on the SR-71: (1) Flying the SR-71 Blackbird: In the Cockpit on a Secret Operational Mission; (2) SR-71; (3) SR-71 Blackbird: Stories, Tales, and Legends; (4) SR-71 Revealed. Before and after Colonel Graham’s presentation everyone had a chance to network and talk with him some more or purchase a signed copy of one of his books. QGITS also had the opportunity to talk with Col. Graham at the AIAA event after his presentation. rich graham

QGITS: Lockheed Skunkworks has developed innovative breakthrough technologies and continues to redefine flight today, what was it like to fly the revolutionary aircraft Blackbird SR-71 designed by renowned aircraft engineer Kelly Johnson?

Colonel Graham: A dream come true to be able to fly it and Kelly used to come to some of our crew meetings and come up to Beale Air Force Base, which is where we were based. You could ask him any question that you had in mind and he was very good about answering them. I never had to work for him but those who did said that basically he was a task master he gave you all the authority the latitude and all the where with all to get results but he expected results. He was a great boss, Kelly never had his engineers in a building up in some office, many yards or miles away from the SR. He had everyone of his engineers on the ground floor with the mechanics and engineers where they were building the SR plane so if they had any problems they could see the exact problems while they were describing it on the floor. His engineers were not in some ivory tower somewhere, they were on the floor the entire time watching the airplane being built. That was one of the biggest success stories from an engineering standpoint having his engineers directly involved working with the building of the airplane.


During Colonel Graham’s presentation he played an inspirational video by Lockheed Martin, a tribute to the legendary Clarence “Kelly” Johnson of Lockheed Skunkworks one of the preeminent aircraft engineers of the twentieth century, and his Skunk Works team.

Innovation Lounge: Demoing Virtual Reality at Garden Grove Library

Innovation Lounge: Demoing Virtual Reality at Garden Grove Library

Dec 2, 2014

Recently we organized a virtual reality demonstration at an Orange County Library which resulted in some spectacular reactions. Previously, Qgits has hosted web development, 3D printing workshops at this library as well as giving students a hands on look at remote controlled drones. Now, it was finally time to show them what VR could do as we continued our recurring Innovation Lounge series.

See also: Flying Quadcopters with High School Students at Garden Grove Library

We choose Garden Grove library because we wanted to start introducing the exciting concepts of virtual reality to people who were already immersed within a world of education. This particular location was directly across the street from an Orange County high school meaning that kids were studying there on a daily basis.

Since virtual reality naturally allows for people to depict stories, the idea that VR would be regularly used in libraries in the future was something that we wanted to spark. These people were surrounded by books already, it only made sense to introduce them to something that would give them the ability to jump into a world and explore a story like no other.

The SoCal MakerCon Photo Roundup


On Nov 8, 2014, what was being called “the largest event celebrating inventiveness, innovation and ideas in Southern California” was held at the Los Angeles Fairplex building in Pomona, CA where a couple thousand people interested in the world of making showed up.

While we were at the event, we took a whole bunch of photos to document the growing maker movement as it flourished right before our very eyes. Embedded below is some of our favorites:

Let the Robot Battles Begin!

Mounds and mounds of electronics parts spread throughout the exhibitor booths where robots were created. Some battled each other in a clear box as crowds of enthusiastic people cheered nearby. Others flew into the air of the conference while eager individuals waited to control it on their own. Practically wherever one would look there would be some form of an electronically rigged robot.

3D Printers, 3D Printers Everywhere

A major theme that was seen at the SoCal MakerCon was a growing 3D printer trend. Companies were manufacturing their own custom 3D printers, providing 3D printing services and classes in a community makerspace or hackerspace and also distributors of 3d printers and supplies. 3D printing companies were printing items on the fly throughout the event for everyone to see and learn more about 3d printing. The amount of printers was a good sign the market is starting to proliferate causing the competition to go up and the consumer prices to go down. There were a lot of cool 3D printing companies to check out like Deezmaker, CoKreeate, Airwolf, Triaxisart, Purple Platypus, AIO Robotics, Vocademy, Urban Workshop, Factory Enova, Creatorspace, UMakers, MAKEiT 3D and OC Makerspace.

See also: Flashforge Easy-to-Use Desktop 3D Printers at SoCal MakerCon

More to see: OC’s MatterHackers 3D Printing Shop at SoCal MakerCon

Flashforge Easy-to-Use Desktop 3D Printers at SoCal MakerCon

Flashforge Easy-to-Use Desktop 3D Printers at SoCal MakerCon

Nov 29, 2014

Flashforge USA was recently at the SoCal MakerCon event in celebration of makers and inspiring innovators, showcasing their disruptive 3D printer series the Creator & Dreamer. The Creator series 3D printers target hobbyists and tinkerers who enjoy customizing their 3D printers and truly calling it their own. The Dreamer series is intended for beginners and those who just want to get things done. Flashforge recently contracted with Dremel to produce their Idea Builder as well as Monoprice’s 3D printer, which was the giveaway prize at the SoCal MakerCon event for a lucky winner. Tech Journalist Matt Terndrup talked with Peter Hsiao, Marketing Specialist at Flashforge about their different 3D printers featured at SoCal MakerCon.


Matt Terndrup: Tell us about Flashforge.

Peter Hsiao: We started in 2011, our headquarters is located in China but we have our regional office here in Los Angeles where we have our service center support, placement parts and printers. FlashForge currently offers two 3D printer series: Creator and Dreamer. Dreamer series is the first 3D printer to be released with IPS LCD touch screen, and one of the first in the industry to have Wi-Fi printing capability. It is close-sourced and uses our own software FlashPrint. The Dreamer is beginner friendly developed with simplicity and straightforwardness in mind.


The Creator series printers which include the Creator, Creator X, and Creator Pro, are based on open-source platform, meaning that there is more flexibility in terms of customization, your able to print ABS, PLA, soluble materials such as PVA, HIPS, nylon, or even wood filament or bronze filament. The advantage of owning a Creator series is that your able to make modifications to the extruder and you have the freedom to use other 3rd party software and firmware.


Matt Terndrup: What do you have displayed here?

Peter Hsiao: We 3d printed chess pieces or even mechanical functional gears. All of our printers come with two print heads that allows you to print two colors at the same time. What if you want to print more complex objects for example like a bridge. There’s going to be over hang where areas have gaps but with dual extruders, what you can do is print the actual bridge with build materials like ABS for example and then build the support structure for the bridge using like soluble materials like PVA and HIPS. Once your finished building basically submerge it in water, give it like an hour and it will dissolve everything. Your bridge will have a completely smooth finish… Really cool stuff.


Matt Terndrup: What are people printing for the most part that you have seen?

Peter Hsiao: Our customers are very broad. We have enterprises doing prototypes for their business. We are trying to get into medical, for example dental offices they are demoing 3d printing molds for their own application. Hobbyist are printing drone parts and DIY products they want to customize and even the average joe who wants to make household products like shower head replacement, tooth brush holders or anything to make their life easier.




Circuit Scribe “Draw Your Own Circuits” at SoCal MakerCon

Circuit Scribe “Draw Your Own Circuits” at SoCal MakerCon

Nov 28, 2014

Circuit Scribe was one of the innovative companies exhibited at SoCal MakerCon, an event that took place to inspire and empower people to collaborate and take initiative on their own ideas. At the Circuit Scribe exhibit, kids and families were having fun learning more about electronics by drawing with a conductive ink pen and placing magnetic modules that snap right onto circuits that you have just drawn on paper, bringing them to life. Michael Bell COO/Co-Founder and PhD student at Harvard School developed all of the modules, packaging and lessons for Circuit Scribe. He was there to help anyone with questions and demonstrate how Circuit Scribe works. QGITS talked to Michael to learn more about creating circuits with conductive ink and how they got started.

circuit scribe 3

QGITS: How does Circuit Scribe work?

Michael: Circuit Scribe is a conductive ink pen so you can draw circuits on paper with nothing but our pen and the electronic magnetic modules that we sell with the pen. So really the innovation is in the conductive ink inside of the pen. The ink formulation is from our research group, PhD students from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Harvard University. The ink inside of the pen was formulated actually for a different application and one of the other co-founders stuck it in the pen and suddenly we had a pen that could draw circuits.

Photos by: Matt Terndrup

QGITS: What inspired you guys to create this?

Michael: One of my co-founders which is Anna Lisa was finishing her PhD and she had developed this about 3 or 4 years ago. We thought one of the good things when she finished school was to start the company based on the product, so we launched a Kickstarter campaign last November. We rounded out the pen with all the modules so it’s really a learning tool and not just a high end hobbyist conductive ink pen with nothing to go with it.  We really wanted to lower the barrier of entry for electronics, it’s really hard to get younger kids interested into electronics because they wire up something wrong, it breaks, it smokes, it gets not interesting very fast but now we have something that we can see 4 year olds use easily. We hope Circuit Scribe will make it uncomplicated for anyone to start learning about circuits as well as inspire creativity among students, makers, artists, designers, and engineers.



OC’s MatterHackers 3D Printing Shop at SoCal MakerCon

OC’s MatterHackers 3D Printing Shop at SoCal MakerCon

Nov 27, 2014

MatterHackers recently exhibited latest 3D printing technology at SoCal MakerCon held at the Los Angeles Fairplex in celebration of inventiveness, innovation and ideas in Southern California. MatterHackers is an Orange County based 3D printing company and they do everything from software to supplies to services carrying the widest selection of 3D printers, 3D printer filament and they have developed a 3D printing software platform called MatterControl. When it comes to 3d printing, they work mostly with desktop 3d printers and they are pushing the envelope to make this technology available to as many people as possible. Kevin Pope COO of MatterHackers was there at the event demonstrating to people 3D printing capabilities and their open source software platform used for 3D printing. QGITS stopped at their booth to talk with Kevin some more about MatterHackers, here’s what he had to say:

QGITS: What do you hope people learn today about MatterHackers?

Kevin: Today we are at SoCal MakerCon showing people the technology and what 3D printing is all about. At MatterHackers we are passionate about 3D printing and it’s potential as a game-changing technology and we want people to get hands-on experience with different printers and materials, see them working in live demonstrations and understand what it takes to create a 3D object.

airwolf3d printer

QGITS: How did MatterHackers get started?

Kevin: My partner Lars Brubaker first introduced me to this as long ago as 5 years. We sold our last company Reflexive Entertainment to Amazon and after we finished there, we hooked back up again and this was the thing we wanted to do. 3D printing additive manufacturing – it’s so trans formative, has such a power to make people’s lives better and enable them.




Clinical Trial to put Supplements to the Test in Bipolar Depression

Clinical Trial to put Supplements to the Test in Bipolar Depression

Nov 19, 2014

Bipolar disorder is a serious mood disorder, consisting of periods of mania and depression. We have treatment for both, though the treatments for depression often will not work very well. The causes on a molecular level of the disease are unknown, so a research group in Australia is tackling the disease from a new standpoint. There is some evidence to suggest that mitochondrial dysfunction can contribute to the disease. Mitochondria are the power plants of a cell, where energy is produced. In the brain because there are high levels of oxygen metabolism, the byproducts of which (free radicals) can create a situation known as oxidative stress. This oxidative stress can damage the mitochondria, in turn causing them to produce more damaging substances that cause more oxidative stress.

Drama and comedy

The researchers have designed a clinical trial using easily available supplements as an adjuvant treatment (meaning in addition to medication) for bipolar disorder, specifically the depression phase. These substances that are included in the trial are known to have a positive effect on oxidative stress. One of the supplements, N-acetyl cysteine, has been shown in a previous trial by the group (2008) to be effective in improving some aspects of bipolar and schizophrenia. In the current trial they are adding  a slew of other vitamins, to see if there is improvement in the depression phase of bipolar disorder.

Some of the vitamins they are adding include vitamin D3, an antioxidant that deficiency of which can lead to low mood; Vitamin E, which scavenges free radicals; and B vitamins which work synergistically with  the mitochondria  to improve function. The study is going to be finished in 2015.


STEAM Carnival Recap: Inspiring Young Inventors of the Future

STEAM Carnival Recap: Inspiring Young Inventors of the Future

Nov 15, 2014

The entertainment engineering company known as Two Bit Circus threw a ‘Carnival of the Future’ mid October 2014 and sparked a fire of innovation that surged into an exciting environment of gizmos, gadgets, education, and STEAM. It was flooded with immersive amusement experiences that dazzled the crowds of thousands of people that attended. The beginning of the festivities started on Wednesday when a creative black tie Gala was held at a pristine building known as Crafted at the Port of LA. Food was served as business owners and government officials got a chance to try out the games before the event opened up on Saturday. See also: STEAM Gala Preview for Upcoming STEAM Carnival for Kids

On Thursday, software developers from all over showed up for a morning hackathon. The goal was to make something useful utilizing the IBM Bluemix platform. Although coding was accomplished, the focus tended to stray primarily over to  where the Two Bit Circus team was building. The STEAM Carnival carnies were setting up the remaining experiences as programming in the other room went on.

At the end of the day, more community members from from the surrounding areas streamed in as the open bar started serving drinks. Hardware hackers made a strong presence as a few were spotted in the crowd. An online open source hardware blog called Hackaday had a few of their employees drop in later that night to help document what was being marketed as a Hacker Preview Day. Their Community Manager Jasmine Brackett led the way as writer and programmer Ben Delarre tested out the games first hand. His report along with spectacular photos taken by Eren Kanal surfaced a couple days later on the Hackaday blog which showed a handful of the games that Two Bit Circus had made.


One of the guys that runs the industrial hackerspace 23b in Fullerton showed up a little bit before that to check out what was happening. Anil Pattni, who helps setup events for a local open source meetup known as OC Hackerz, was at the Hacker Day Preview too.

It was nice to engage with people interested in hardware mechanics and engineering that night. All the games there were handmade by the Two Bit Circus team in their warehouse workshop. Out of all the people there, the hardware hackers knew exactly what they were looking. They could dissect the games without having to literally open it apart because they work with similar electronics on a regular basis. Granted, all these experiences at the STEAM Carnival were completely unique, but boiled down they all shared a foundation with open source electronics that of course hackers love to use.

The following day was the Student Preview Day where kids had the opportunity to play with the games. They also made their own with Makey Makey kits during the day.

Flying Quadcopters with High School Students at Garden Grove Library

Flying Quadcopters with High School Students at Garden Grove Library

Nov 2, 2014

In a recent Qgits adventure, we organized a quadcopter demonstration for several high school students at a local Orange County library who have never seen these devices in person before. The rising, widespread use of remote controlled aerial devices made this a perfect opportunity to introduce the capabilities of these flying vehicles to people that have only heard about these things it on the news. The hands-on experience was led by Kim Nielsen and Stuart Stevenson from a Venice-based multirotor products company known as Ctrl.Me Robotics. We sat down with them for a fireside chat which can be seen in the video below:


During the Ctrl.Me presentation, Kim and Stuart showed how professional filmmakers are currently utilizing these types of technologies to gain previously unreachable perspectives that can now be grasped by flying cameras steadily through the air.

This Venice-based UAV company has delt with a lot of well-known brands and celebrities. For instance, Beyonce is among one of the people who have consulted with Ctrl.Me in the past. During that time working on the ‘Beyonce project’, Ctrl.Me Robotics’ engineers produced a custom quadcopter that captured amazing views that only a drone can achieve while at a performance of the 2014 Video Music Awards (VMAs). The multirotor vehicle that was made was fashioned out out a carbon fiber material and was designed to protect anyone (and itself) from unexpected collisions. Rarely does an incident like this happen, but if it did, it was necessary to ensure that a high-profile artist like Beyonce was not harmed in any way. Their specialized remote controlled quadcopter was able to address all those issues of safety and durability in a creative way that was polished off with a nice slick design that was laser cut in their in-house workshop.

The Beyonce carbon fiber drone is slick and easy to fly.

The Beyonce carbon fiber drone is slick and easy to fly.

Another ‘drone’ that Crtl.Me brought to the Garden Grove Library was their Halloween-themed configuration that outfited an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) with a boney skeleton figure and a dark hoodie for a ghoolish flying creature that hovered in the sky. It was named the ‘Skeledrone‘ and its eyes would glow red while it flew through the night captivating whoever it encountered.

During the quadcopter demonstration at the Garden Grove Library, the students listened attentively to the presentation with an anxious anticipation ready to get a hands-on look at one of the vehicles. As it took off into the area above their heads, the sounds of the multirotors buzzed a steady hum while it hovered nearby. The view from the attached GoPro was streamed through a wifi connection straight to the handheld controller. An LCD screen showed that the drone could see.

Some of the high-schoolers said that it looked like a video game. Others looked silently and imagined what they could do with this technology. Later, when asked about what they might achieve with something like this, one kid said that he would just like to explore his neighborhood. A fellow aspiring inventor wondered what would happen if he strapped a paintball gun to the front. Another person questioned if packages or letters could be delivered with a flying quadcopter like this.

The end of the day concluded with a lot of smiles as the students went home thinking about all the wonderful possibilities that surrounded remote controlled quadcopters and UAVs. They were inspired by the new technology thanks to the innovative leaders at the Garden Grove Library along with the assistance from the wonderful team over at Crtl.Me Robotics.

To learn more watch full class presentation by at the library, also be sure to visit the main Garden Grove Library website to see what they have coming up next. They hold events all the time, including an upcoming virtual reality demonstration later in November.

For additional information about the services that Ctrl.Me provides, check out their website. You can also follow them on Twitter @Ctrl_Me, and they host meetup events from time to time as well in collaboration with the LA Robotics Club. Ctrl.Me has a great introduction video on their Youtube channel about what they do too at Youtubechannel/CtrlMeRobotics.