Laramie Trip Recap

SparkFun Takes a Trip to Laramie, WY.

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"Looks like 'Two and a Half Men' is back! Winning!"

First things first, let's talk about the caption contest from yesterday. It was really, really hard to pick a winner - I had no idea there would be such a huge response! Thank you to everyone who participated. We'll definitely do these contests more in the future. The winner this time around is SkiMask and his caption above. Nice work! We'll be contacting you about your prize - a SparkFun Inventor's Kit for Arduino. Now on to the recap!

On May 18th, Lindsay, Mike, Toni, Ben, Pete and Dave all headed up to Laramie, Wyoming, to teach a two hour workshop as part of a two day wind energy design conference at Laramie County Community College.

The conference was a meeting of various education administrators from all over the country coordinated by Jim Brazell  and funded by the NSF. They were meeting at Laramie County Community College because of the College’s work with wind turbines. 

After a brief introduction the administrators were introduced to our SparkFun Inventor’s Kit along with a solar cell to power the Arduino so they could take their laptops and students outside for a breath of fresh air. The workshop covered just how easy it is to get started designing in the field of mechatronics through hands on constructivism learning. Due to the short time frame we briefly covered only the basics needed to truly understand physical computing, including Digital and Analog, Input and Output and of course, Serial Communication.

We also highlighted the various educational services and materials that we offer for free to educators. Many were surprised to hear about the broad age/skill range (Engineering Ph.Ds, textile artists and four year olds, oh my!) we regularly teach in our SparkFun classes. Even more exciting for the attendees was all the free information available in conjunction with the hardware. The majority of administrators were not aware of the size and depth of the physical and online communities that support anyone who wants to learn about physical computing and Arduino.

There was a large range of skill level (aerospace engineers to administrators with no previous experience) but everyone was able to complete examples of the five concepts covered in the two hour period. So, with workshop completed and bellies full of free lunch (there is such a thing) the instructors piled in the rental suburban and heading home, stopping only when strictly necessary. Such as when we saw this place:

People were very excited to peruse the goods.

Especially Toni.

All in all, it was a great weekend and we had a blast meeting and working with a diverse group of people! Plus, we left with some awesome and completely legal fireworks!

Comments 48 comments

  • One would think that the owners of that store would be hesitant to allow anyone in that was wearing a "sparkfun" T-shirt.

  • Of course they are completely legal fireworks.

  • 8 votes and We didnt win :(
    Stars must mean something else.
    Congrats Skimask
    Side Note: I think that girl is giving someone the finger

    • Wow, really didn't mean to do that. I was just so excited about all the Sparklers! And was also not expecting this picture to end up on the front page post....

      • Sparklers, really? Don't they have C4 there?
        Why load up on candy when you can go right to the steak?
        Heh. You didn't know this picture would be published? Well, now you know. And knowing is half the battle! The lesson? If you see a coworker with a camera pointed at you, be ready to kick him in the jimmy.
        I remember when I was 12 in rural Missouri. An Uncle I only met the day before managed to get a box of something called "Silver Salutes". We went up and down the creek blowing stuff up. Good times!
        In retrospect, I'm probably lucky that I still have both of my hands.

        • I don't know.. Sparklers have a bigger bang than most would think. Not going into details but I have witnessed a trashcan turned inside out with sparklers. I to am also surprised that everyone in my small kid gang grew up at all too. Then again we do kinda over protect our kids these days.

    • She's giving "SPARKLERS" the finger.
      No wait - she's giving the 'R" the finger!
      "Hahahaha! Suck it 'R'!"

  • Nice choice for the winner. Congrats Skimask!
    I can only imagine some new captions for the picture of Toni. That face, plus sparklers, can only mean 1 of two things. And I am not saying what they are.

  • Hilarious caption! Ha-Ha

  • Did people see this today?

  • So are you going to be doing a firework show next? :D
    I'd go to that.

  • pursuing the goods?

  • The joy of being around pre-marriage, pre-child women, who can still stop & peruse things. With all the production happening in Shenzen & yesterday's announcement about China's investment in technology, someone had a technology conference in Wyoming? Are they refinancing the windmill mortgages?

  • Internet RFC #8395: Captions MUST be incrusted ONTO the picture. The text SHALL NOT be posted in normal text above it.
    As per the standard Caption Reference of the Internets

  • Skimask, you should change your screen name to SIKmask to reflect your winnage!

  • I think ole' skimask needs a laxative!!

  • Sparkfun is always full of such good positive stuff that I don't want to discourage anyone. But to budding engineers, these things come and go and flavor of the year can be a real dead end. Right now all the wind turbines in Washington State are shut down because of the need to run the Columbia river dams with spillways plus turbines. The grid can't handle any more. Why are there wind systems in the same place? Because wind power lobbyists managed to keep hydro from being listed as renewable and counting toward the total of renewable energy. When the tech is driven by politics, demand can change with the wind, so to speak. Many a high school science student of the late 60's was convinced NASA would have a job for them on the Moon by the time they were 30. They spent their college careers working on the details of something that never happened. Anyone need a design for a (very outdated) industrial space suit?

    • I work in solar energy research and am saddened by the politics involved in that industry. Every grid inverter shows a "CO2 Saved" counter on the display.
      I also live near the Kennedy Space Center and am about to witness the last US manned launch for many years. I wonder how old my 1-1/2 year old son will be before we put another person in space. Another industry outsourced to a foreign country.

      • My first real physics job out of school was in solar research on efficiency of tracking collectors (about 3 times a non-tracking). These used the latest materials for heating water. Low emissivity coatings, special glass, the works. The outcome at the time was that we could not get enough power in the 16 to 20 year lifetime of the collectors to make up for the energy of manufacture and delivery. I think this is still true of the wind turbines without artificially high electricity cost or subsidy. It has certainly been an energy and financial disaster in Spain.

    • Just like how nuclear power is touted as renewable, but is NOT. Uranium is a limited resource. And worse, nuclear reactors pump out plutonium, the main ingredient in Clean AND Dirty Nuclear bombs (You have 1.5 kg? Congrats, you may now make a nuclear bomb!). Even WORSE, hospitals have nuclear waste, so you can just drive a car up to a big Krankenhaus OR Three Mile Island, blow it up with a few kilograms of TNT, and Congraturation! You just blew up an entire country!. Isn't my destructive knowledge scary for 5th grade? Some guy wrote an essay on the subject and BAM! it was classified and his own copy was confiscated in the night by Government Lackeys. It was finally declassified like a decade later.

        • Nuclear waste from hospitals are mostly short-lived Technitium isotopes. Cleanup procedure would be to simply stay calm and wait a couple of weeks. No biggy.
        • Making a Plutonium bomb requires 10kg with clever engineering, of 239 isotope. Spent nuclear fuel from normal light water reactors contains Plutonium, but it is a mixture of Plutonium-242, 240, 239 and 238. The mixture is not sufficiently enriched for efficient nuclear weapons.
        • Making a dirty bomb is a lot easier, but fine-spreading such a massive metallic element is a complex task. Clean-up after such an attack should be easy, like easter egg hunting with Sparkfun's Geiger counter.
          Do not go in fear of nuclear stuff. Just read more. The atom is your friend.
      • Idea: Everyone e-mail this thread to Obama, say it contains valuable information, and maybe he'll actually read one of the e-mails!

  • completely legal, scrach that, illegal fireworks

    • Sparklers are legal in the state of Colorado. On the record, "officially"... we brought home only legal goods.

      • Uh..right. Yea. What he said. Only sparklers. Yup.

        • Yup!
          glances around shiftily

          • Somebody looks like they have a couple packs of bottle rockets. Please post pics of the sparkfun warehouse bottle rocket war.

            • oh come now, you CAN'T have a bottle rocket war in a warehouse...
              ...stuff gets in the way, you have to do it in the offices.

              • Agreed! If your "paperless" office is like mine, it should result in some good fun and flame! And when were those fire sprinklers REALLY tested? Maybe instead of the AVC next year, it could be the AVBRW?

                • You can have bottle rocket wars anywhere.. They can even travel under water (have to light them above water first though). Roman candles are better for battle hehe.. Probably why they are illegal in most states now.

  • I don't even get the joke of the caption.

    • Have you visited any site other than SparkFun in the last few months? If not, you might want to search for Charlie Sheen on reddit or something...

      • I'm in 5th grade. I have no idea who Charlie Sheen is. And yes, I have been to Google Translate (For Beatboxing), Singularity Hub, Gmail, Amazon, etc.

        • I can't honestly believe you don't know who Charlie Sheen is, 5th grader or not.

          • As a sixth grade teacher I can tell you that Chill_Bill is entirely credible. The smarter kids remain blessedly ignorant of the pointless goings-on of pop culture morons. Some of my students have reasonably informed opinions about US involvement in Libya, but neither know, nor care a whit about Paris Hilton, Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan and their ilk. I suspect that this explains WHY they are the higher achievers.

            • ^ This
              One of the best things (IMO) you could do for your children is cancel your cable connection and get rid of your television. (Keep the Internet).
              I got rid of mine roughly 12 years ago. Once you're on the outside looking in, you can't help but notice how much it invades our everyday life, and how very little substance it really contributes.

          • (muted trumpet plays) wah...wah...wah...
            Way to go, Rob!

        • Yeah, don't go look him up. It will taint the jury pool.

        • Epic winning kudos to you for NOT knowing who Charlie Sheen is! I started in electronics and computers (such as they were) when I was in 5th grade, I'm 42 now and that has served me well. Don't wait for someone else to teach you something new when you can figure it on your own.

        • It's a funny caption for sure but don't waste any neuron firings on researching Charlie Sheen and why that's funny. Trust me on this one, your life will probably be more fulfilling not understanding this one! :)

  • I KNEW Inter-Continental Body Missile wasn't good enough :( Oh well. I won the New Product Post Giveaway, they probably don't want to give the prizes to the same people twice in a row.

  • Good choice for the caption! I guess SkiMask really is winning.
    I thought the "Gregor Counter" caption was pretty funny (aside from mine :) ). It actually made me lol at work.

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