Spark by Southwest


In recent years, SparkFun has been increasing its presence at the South by Southwest festivals in Austin, TX. In 2012, we sponsored the GE Garages with tools and supplies, and last year we hosted our own booth at SXSW Create - a free, DIY-centric tent during SXSW Interactive, where we taught e-textiles to hundreds of attendees! We had a great time, and loved meeting so many like-minded DIY, open source, education and tech enthusiasts in the Lone Star State!

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See! Here we are, taking over Austin. This map I made does not lie.

So this year, we decided to go for the gold. We’re applying to lead or participate in SIX different events over the course of SXSW 2014, taking place March 3-16. A full third of the success of these events, talks, panels and workshops depends on community voting and input through SXSW’s PanelPicker platform (say that ten times fast), so this is where our friends come in! If you are planning to attend SXSW, interested in bringing more of these topics to the public dialogue, or just plain like us, we would be very grateful for any support! Voting started yesterday and will be open until Friday, Sept. 6. A list of our proposals with links to the voting site are below, with space for comments or questions if you have them!

  • Lessons Learned from a National Education Tour: Director of Education Lindsay Levkoff will give a solo presentation at SXSWEdu discussing all the things we’ve learned - good and bad - about taking our electronics education on the road and into classrooms across the US in 2013.

  • Build, Create and Hack: Bringing STEAM into K-12: Lindsay will mediate a group panel at SXSWEdu - featuring a diverse group of nationally-recognized educators and program directors - discussing ways to integrate hands-on STEAM education into the traditional K-12 school system.

  • Arduino + Processing => Enhanced Interactivity: Four educators from SparkFun will host this workshop at SXSW Interactive, which will teach attendees to program in Arduino and develop enhanced and highly-interactive projects.

  • Creating the Intersection of Science and Gaming: SparkFun education engineer Brian Huang will host this workshop at SXSWEdu, which will show you tricks to integrate investigations in math and science into the classroom using Scratch and the PicoBoard.

  • Building a New Community in a Maker’s World: Lindsay (busy lady!) and Education Outreach Coordinator Jeff Branson will contribute to this SXSWEdu panel, hosted by Ludvik Herrera. SparkFun teamed up with the instructor, creative director and parent to bring multi-disciplinary, multi-generational workshops to his community in the Fargo, ND area. The panel will discuss ways to successfully implement similar programs in growing communities everywhere.

  • Simon Says soldering booth: We’re hosting a large-scale beginners' soldering booth at SXSW Interactive! We’ll have seats, materials and instructors for 20-30 students at a time, and we’ll show them how to build our Simon Says PTH kit!

And there you have it - Spark by Southwest. If you feel so inclined, please spread the word about our push to attend, and with any luck, we’ll meet you in Austin for some bbq in March! Thank you all so much!


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