News & Events to Inspire STEAM Education

GREEN

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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INNOVATE

STEAM Carnival Recap: Inspiring Young Inventors of the Future

Posted by on 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...

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TECHNOLOGY

Flying Quadcopters with High School Students at Garden Grove Library

Posted by on 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...

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SCIENCE

Clinical Trial to put Supplements to the Test in Bipolar Depression

Posted by on 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...

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Recent Posts

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.

vitamins

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.

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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:

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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 Ctrl.me 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.

CEO Steven Trindade of Urban Workshop at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

CEO Steven Trindade of Urban Workshop at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

Nov 2, 2014

Mechanical Engineer & CEO Steven Trindade of Urban Workshop recently exhibited at the 1st-ever Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire produced this year by Vocademy in celebration of creativity, innovation and the local maker culture. Urban Workshop is a community DIY workshop and Makerspace located in Irvine, Ca and their members have access to just about every machine, tool and process that you can think of including milling machines, Epilog laser cutters, welding equipment, sheet metal equipment, CNC machining, sood shop equipment, 3D printer, engineering and design software, and much more. Check out video interview with CEO Steven Trindade of Urban Workshop by Matt Terndrup Tech & Art Journalist at the IEMMF in Riverside, Ca.

urban workshop
www.urbanworkshop.net

STEAM Gala Preview for Upcoming STEAM Carnival for Kids Oct. 25-26

STEAM Gala Preview for Upcoming STEAM Carnival for Kids Oct. 25-26

Oct 23, 2014

Kicking off mid week was the STEAM Gala hosted at the Crafted at the Port of Los angeles for a sneak preview of the upcoming STEAM Carnival by Two Bit Circus Oct. 25-26. The evening was a celebration to inspire the next generation of great minds. The STEAM Gala brought together community leaders, elected officials, top innovators, and business professionals in support for science, technology, engineering, art and math – STEAM education focused on K-12 STEAM-based programs. It was a spectacular night from aerial performers, games, amazing metal art sculptures, live music and awards presented to eBay CMO Richelle Parham for STEAM Leadership and engineering doctoral student Albert Manero and Limbitless Team for Innovation. QGITS caught up with CTO and co-founder Eric Gradman of Two Bit Circus at the STEAM Gala about the upcoming STEAM Carnival event this weekend.

QGITS: What is STEAM Carnival?

Eric Gradman: STEAM Carnival is our opportunity to inspire everyone with what we do which is science, technology, engineering, arts and math. We have what we consider to be the most fun jobs in the world, we get to make amazing things and we want to give everybody else the opportunity to do that too. When you walk into to STEAM Carnival we want you to say “Wow!” and when you walk out we want you to say “Aha!” We want you to learn something, to be inspired by what it means to create and to invent, to make amazing things because that’s what this world needs..more amazing things.

Two Bit Circus
In photo (left): CTO and co-founder – Eric Gradman, Event Producer – Molly Waseka and CEO Brent Bushnell.

“We want kids to leave inspired. The most important thing is that they leave with a smile on their face and the next time someone talks about electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, software, science or chemistry. They can say I saw that in action at the STEAM Carnival, let me tell you more.” - CTO and co-founder Eric Gradman of Two Bit Circus

STEAM Carnival – October 25-26, 11am-7pm
Located at the CRAFTED at The Port of LA
Purchase Tickets Here

STEAM Carnival
www.steamcarnival.com

23b and MAG Lab members at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

23b and MAG Lab members at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

Oct 22, 2014

While at IEMMF, we stumbled across a couple of hackers in the midst of the evolving maker movement. They were sitting at the 23b tent, which is a heavy industrial hackerspace that focuses on the mechanical arts. This means there’s a lot welding, machining, fabricating, and making of circuit boards that is done at their warehouse. Not only that, but they like to open the space occasionally for nights of lock picking as well.One of the guys that runs the space is named Chris and is an active influencer in the local hacker community. He spotted us in the crowd and promptly told us the exciting tales of his recent DefCon conference trip that occurred in Las Vegas a few months before. Eventually, we got to talking with him and another hackerspace owner named Trent about the maker movement and how it is taking off like a wild fire.

Watch the video with Chris and Trent to learn more:

As we chatted, it became clear that public awareness is being stirred up with the help of events like the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire. These large meetups, along with the open access of tools at places like makerspaces and hackerspaces, are showing people that they can practically create whatever they want.

Like Chris says in the video, people are starting to see items including 3D printers and laser cutters in their everyday life. Practically every newspaper and online media now a days is continuously publishing stories about these type of high-tech machines and what they can be used for. The word is getting out, and environments like makerspaces and hackerspaces are appearing on people’s radars. This has produced the need for places like 23b and Mag Lab. The demand for these types of coworking workshops is reaching a high enough level where diversity between spaces is starting to form. Each spot now has their own unique community, its own special feel, and its own variety of tools. Still, the most encouraging aspect here is that people are finally getting to know more about the maker movement through events like this.

Broccoli Compound Reduces Autism Behaviors

Broccoli Compound Reduces Autism Behaviors

Oct 21, 2014

broccoli

Autism Spectrum Disorder is a disease that affects approximately 1 out of every 68, and occurs mostly in males. It is characterized by an impairment of social communication, as well as repetitive behaviors (such as rocking) and difficulties with language. Up until this point there is no known cure for autism.

Researchers Sing et al at Harvard medical school have found a potential candidate for a new drug—derived from broccoli sprouts. Sulforaphane is a chemical compound found in cruciferous plants such as broccoli and cabbage. It was chosen for the study for several reasons, one of which being low toxicity because it is derived from a food source.

During metabolism, or the transformation of one chemical to another in a living cell, reactive oxygen species such as free radicals are produced. These reactive oxygen species can cause damage known as oxidative stress.  Sulforaphane counteracts this by turning on genes to protect cells from damage. It also turns on genes that protect against DNA damage and neuroinflammation. Oxidative stress, DNA damage and neuroinflammation are all associated with Austism Spectrum Disorder. This is one of the first studies that addresses these problems as a potential pathway for treatment.

brain

In this pilot study 22 male participants were treated for 18 weeks with either sulforaphane or a placebo, and then evaluated by both caregivers and physicians for behavioral changes. A placebo is a non-active compound given to compare with the effectiveness of the drug. They found that irritability, lethargy and hyperactivity were improved among those who were treated with sulforaphane. Repetitive movements, also known as stereotypy, were also reduced. Behavior was measured 4 weeks after stopping treatment, and the participants reverted to their usual behaviors, suggesting that the changes were in fact from treatment with the compound.

CEO Brian Arandez of Thingify 3D Printing at Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

CEO Brian Arandez of Thingify 3D Printing at Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

Oct 19, 2014

CEO Brian Arandez of Thingify Inc. and his team recently attended the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire at Vocademy Makerspace in Riverside, Ca. Thingify a product development company offers 3D printing services to help take your concept idea and translate it to a working 3D model that is 3D print ready. They promote innovation by helping anyone to express their ideas in 3D that enables them to shape their ideas from “Think Tank to Thing Tank.” Thingify attended the 1st-ever Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire in celebration for what makers do — what they make, how they make it and the enthusiasm and passion that drives them. At the event Embedded Hardware & Software Engineer Arman Bastani spoke with Brian Arandez from Thingify a bit more about the different additive manufacturing 3D printing technologies and client artwork showcased at the IE Mini Maker Faire.

thingify

www.thingify.net

SoCal MakerCon at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

SoCal MakerCon at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

Oct 17, 2014

SoCal MakerCon was recently at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire at Vocademy Makerspace in Riverside, Ca. Just like Vocademy and the IE Mini Maker Faire – they all share a common belief in celebrating inventiveness, innovation, creativity, resourcefulness and the celebration of the emerging Maker Movement. SoCal MakerCon is an up and coming event on November 8th at the Los Angeles Fairplex,that is inspired by the Maker movement. The Maker Movement is the future of how innovation and invention will occur and empowering people all over the world to collaborate and take initiative on their own ideas. See full list of speakers, exhibitors and demos at SoCal MakerCon. Also watch video interview with Matt Terndrup technology and art journalist talking with Aaron Berg, Event Manager of SoCal MakerCon from recently held Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire in Riverside, Ca.

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www.socalmakercon.com/

CEO Brent Bushnell of Two Bit Circus at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

CEO Brent  Bushnell of Two Bit Circus at the Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire

Oct 14, 2014

A lifelong engineer and entrepreneur CEO Brent Bushnell of Two Bit Circus a high tech circus attended the recently held 1st-ever Inland Empire Mini Maker Faire at Vocademy Makerspace in Riverside, Ca. Two Bit Circus engineers entertainment that is imaginative and interactive, blurring the line between physical and digital playgrounds to create a new world of social amusement. They have developed various experiential entertainment platforms like the STEAM Carnival that is a modern take on the traveling circus, using high-tech amusement and project-based kits to inspire kids of all ages about science, technology, engineering, art and math. See video interview by Matt Terndrup, technology & art journalist talking with Brent Bushnell while at the IE Mini Maker Faire event .

Two bit circus

www.twobitcircus.com