Makersmiths' KidWind STEM group won national KidWind recognitions today. Two of our wind turbine projects are now published on the KidWind.org website! Team Caleb can be viewed at https://www.kidwind.org/online-challenge/wind-turbine/projects/recOnbcjYlYrx0yJy. Team Connor and Soren can be viewed at https://www.kidwind.org/online-challenge/wind-turbine/projects/recd9qMprhqJTKYkw
During this school year, five middle school students participating in Makersmiths' KidWind STEM group completed three solar powered KidWind Projects that were entered into the KidWind-VA 2021 Challenge. Winners will be announced on May 25 at 4PM at James Madison University.
Seventh graders Connor, Caleb and Soren created a prototype kiosk that contains a sound box. The sound box detects movement and plays a train sound whenever someone walks by it. The purpose of the sound is to catch the attention of that person and draw them back to the kiosk to read what information is displayed. The sound box needs three AA batteries to operate. In order for the batteries to remain charged, the boys used three rechargeable batteries in a storage device that is wired to two solar panels on a platform at the top of the kiosk that can be rotated to follow the sun and is tilted at an optimal angle to capture the direct sunlight during spring-summer. Why did they want to make a kiosk as their solar powered structure? Makersmiths is making a large kiosk for the Town of Purcellville to put by the former train station located downtown. The boys thought the town might be interested in their KidWind Kiosk structure and incorporate their design into the town's kiosk. To learn more and see pictures and a movie of their project's development, visit Kiosk Solar Panel Project.
Seventh grade student Katie was interested in finding a way to clean pond or stream water that can be used to water plants. She created a system that uses a fish tank filter box with a charcoal filter, two water pumps and three solar panels on a platform that can be adjusted to obtain the optimum angle to capture direct sunlight at different times of the year. The solar panels operate the two water pumps. To see her movies and images of her project's development, visit Vegetable Garden Watering System.
Eighth grader Sofi initially wanted to create a way to use solar panels to run a system that filters out salt from seawater to make the water drinkable. However, she found that obtaining suitable filter material to use was not easy to find. She then decided to figure out a way to use solar power to run a system that captures hydrogen from water that would fuel vehicles instead of vehicles using fossil fuels. Her Google Slideshow and movie documents the steps she took, first using batteries to produce power to run her electrolysis system, then switching to solar power. To see her project's development, visit Solar Powered Electrolysis.
Makersmiths wants to thank Makersmiths members Diane Painter, Jennifer Chu, Ralph Pugh and Dave Painter for their time and expertise in helping the students learn about solar power, help the students build their projects, and work through the steps they needed to collect and document the effectiveness of their projects using solar power.
On Saturday, May 1, 2021, Makersmiths hosted the Northern Virginia KidWind wind turbine testing for youth participating in the 2021 KidWind Turbine Challenge. Two teams from Makersmiths (Team 1: Caleb Nicholson and Team 2: Connor Ellis and Soren Ogelman) and one team from Cardinal Ridge ES brought the wind turbines they created this past year to test them in a wind tunnel that James Madison University set up in our Makersmiths-Purcellville location.
Makersmiths members, Diane Painter and Jennifer Chu, served as coaches for our Makersmiths KidWind teams. During the work sessions (November 2020-Feb 2021 before COVID caused us to go online), the team members learned about the function of gears from Makersmiths member, Ralph Pugh who is an electrical engineer. They learned to design gears using a program found online at http://geargenerator.com. They then designed their blades in a CAD program called Tinkercad. Pictured is Caleb's wind turbine blades that he 3D printed. Caleb used a direct drive, meaning he did not make a gear box for it.
KidWind team members, Soren and Connor, used their Tinkercad designs to laser print the blades (shown below). Soren built a wooden 3:1 gear ratio generator with help from Makersmiths member, Dave Painter.
How did the wind tunnel testing go? The wind turbines with a gear box out powered the wind turbine using direct drive. However, Team 2: Connor and Soren's wind turbine spun so quickly that one of the blades broke off! In the end, the team from Cardinal Ridge ES out performed both our Makersmiths teams. They used cardboard to create their blades but used a 8:1 gear ratio gearbox. What can we say about our KidWind wind turbine experience? Our teams learned a lot about solar power, wind turbines, designing blades in a CAD program, and how to create things on 3D printers and a laser cutter. They also discovered the value of adding a gear box to a wind turbine since the wind turbines with gear boxes produced the most power. Team members also learned about pitch (angle of the blades) and how to collect performance data. So in the end, they learned a lot of making skills, and after all, isn't that what Makersmiths is all about?
Member Profile - Erin Werling
Erin has been a Makersmiths member from the beginning of Makersmiths, and she currently serves on the Board of Directors. She loves to sew, quilt, and use her Cricut machine to create all kinds of things such as cutouts to make paper flowers. She even learned basic blacksmithing skills at Makersmiths-Purcellville! As a Makersmiths community outreach volunteer, Erin participated in a Maker Faire hosted by Loudoun County’s Rust Library to teach families how to make sidewalk chalk! Erin and fellow Makersmiths member, Jessee Maloney, like to host Crafts Nights at Makersmiths in Leesburg twice a month, and hopes to resume this family-friendly event at Makersmiths once COVID-19 restrictions end.
Makersmiths Gets Down in the Weeds!
By: Shereef Sayed
Because Makersmiths is a non-profit, community-based organization, we do work with youth groups in a variety of ways. One of our partnerships is with Loudoun County Public Schools. This academic year, two students from Woodgrove High School taking an independent science research course contacted us for mentorship help.
For two Woodgrove High School students (Go Badgers!) and their Independent Research class, they needed to submit a research proposal that would address a problem. While visiting family in Italy, one of the students noticed that her Mom could eat foods containing gluten, unlike eating similar foods back home. “Why is that?”, she wondered. With help from her research partner, they came across a research paper that showed a strong correlation between Celiac disease and certain herbicides that are applied to wheat fields to hold weeds in check. They also learned that countries in Europe have banned the use of herbicides, but we are still using herbicides in the USA. “Hmm, how can we fix this?” they wondered. They determined that they should build a robot that can only spray herbicides on weeds, but not crops.
It turns out that their idea is one of a growing industry (pun intended) called Precision Agriculture. From academia to start-ups to corporations, the agriculture industry is developing innovative solutions to make better use of farm resources, including herbicides.
My background is as a systems engineer and I volunteered to mentor the students. When they described their initial research plan, it seemed like an awful lot of ground to cover in one academic year (pun intended). In order for a robot to spray only weeds, it seemed that we should first focus on solving the problem of distinguishing crops from non- crops. All you need is a neural network, right? They’re everywhere, right?
Siri? Alexa? How do you build a neural network?
To build a neural network you need to first train it with pictures of the objects you want to find. All we had to do was search the Internet for a bunch of pictures of weeds in a field, but we needed to find a lot of pictures...like, hundreds of pictures. Despite our best efforts to search the Internet, the only comprehensive image database of weeds that we found currently comes from Australia. Just to be sure that our Internet search was complete, we contacted a Professor at Virginia Tech in their Weed Sciences department, and asked what database his students use for their research. Turns out they use a database from Denmark! Well, I explained to the students, if the Internet is a sum of all human knowledge, and your search leads you back where you started, then you’ve just found a hole in the Internet; a place of incomplete knowledge. So, the research project was beginning to become more focused. The students decided that their research for this year's research class is to fill that gap and create the first North American Weed image database for training neural networks to find weeds in a field.
Right now, the team is focused on finding a camera that can take pictures in both the visible light and infrared spectrums. They are also learning how to annotate images to help train a neural network.
With the help from a conservation specialist with Loudoun Soil and Water Conservation District, the students now have two farms that they can visit that are growing winter wheat. Once the weather warms up, they will be busy taking lots of pictures, changing the world, one weed at a time.
The monthly (socially distanced!) work days in Purcellville are returning!
As we did in pre-COVID times, we are inviting members at 9:00 AM until at least noon on the first Saturday of each month to our Purcellville location to drink coffee, eat
donuts, and maintain and improve the space. This is also a great opportunity for prospective members who want to see the space to drop by and know that a member will be at Purcellville to show you around.
For members, this is al
so one of the easiest ways for you to fulfill the volunteer hours that are a requirement of your membership. It’s not all work, though, this a great way to meet other members, forge new friendships and sometimes learn new skills.
Group Build Project
Makersmiths will be doing a group build of an information kiosk for the town of Purcellville that will be located at the old train station. It will be built of steel and powder coated. The design calls for a modular build approach. Each piece must be small enough to fit in our powder coat oven that also means that each piece must be easily transported to the location, assembled on site, and then bolted together. This is a great opportunity to dust off some old skills or learn some new ones. We will be laying out patterns on sheet metal, cutting them out, using the box and pan brake to bend them, and MIG welders to weld them together.
Leesburg Tour Video
Purcellville Tour Video
Jessee Maloney, owner and operator of the brand Art School Dropout for the last 18 years (https://www.artschooldropout.net), is a professional quilter and freelance artist. She joined Makersmiths in 2017 to learn how to use the laser cutter. Since then she has learned to use the 3D printers, vinyl cutter, t-shirt press, welding equipment, woodshop, and CNC machines to make the art work and products that she sells online and at various craft shows and conventions. Jessee also assists our Cosplay members in helping them design and sew costumes. During our COVD-19 initiatives, she made many face masks and has helped been instrumental in developing the new member orientation classes.
Welcome to Spring! Makersmiths gardeners are busy and now have a volunteer horticulturist to advise them. Both Leesburg and Purcellville have garden space, and Makersmiths has a plot at the community gardens at Ida Lee.
The Board has approved a UV flatbed printer for Makersmiths. Print samples are available at Makersmiths Leesburg to get a good look at what a UV printer can do, including monogrammed golf balls, printed acrylics, boxes, trophies, control boards, gauges, puzzles, and much more.
While the pandemic is hopefully waning, we still need to remain vigilant and follow the CDC and Virginia guidance on group gatherings. Members must wear a face mask at all times while inside our buildings and adhere to social distancing guidelines. Each site has hand sanitizer and sanitizing wipes for use in the facilities. We have begun to offer limited in-person classes with one instructor and up to three students per class. All classes can be found on the Makersmiths website: https://makersmiths.org/events
While the pandemic continues, we are providing Associate Members full access to both the Leesburg and Purcellville spaces after they have taken New Member Orientation and at least one Red Tool Class. A Red Tool is a machine or tool with the potential for personal injury or damage if misused. Red Tool classes are available through the tool/room steward or the events link above. Red Tool training is required for woodshops, metal shops, welding areas, CNC machines, and laser cutters.
This March, the theme of Women’s History Month is “Women Inspiring Innovation through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).” Women make up 48 percent of the workforce, but make up less than a third of STEM workers.
The burgeoning makerspace movement provides advantages for startups and entrepreneurs, and the most beneficial parts are the resources it provides and the connections members make…surrounded by like-minded, creative people sharing support, ideas, and opportunities—possibly sparking a collaboration.
We have many resourceful women that have been members for several years contributing to our community, some are highlighted here.
Beverly Murdock, a Makersmiths member since 2017, is a multi-talented maker. By trade, she is an engineer who consults in program management, compliance, and technology strategy in the wireless telecommunications industry. She grew up woodworking with her dad. Off hours, she enjoys cake decorating, nature photography, a variety of crafts, home renovation, and helping friends and family solve problems by making things. She uses the laser cutter for everything from etching pumpkins to wall signs. This Christmas, she and her sister constructed giant nutcrackers that evolved into hosting a class for friends to do theirs.
Erin Werling, a Makersmiths member since 2015, currently serves on the Board of Directors for Makersmiths. She loves to sew, quilt, and use her Cricut machine to create all kinds of things such as cutouts to make paper flowers. She even learned basic blacksmithing skills at Makersmiths-Purcellville! As a Makersmiths community outreach volunteer, Erin participated in a maker fare hosted by Loudoun County’s Rust Library to teach families how to make sidewalk chalk! Erin and fellow Makersmiths member, Jessee Maloney, like to host Crafts Nights at Makersmiths-Leesburg twice a month, and hopes to resume this family-friendly event at Makersmiths once COVID-19 restrictions end.
Jessee Maloney, owner and operator of the brand Art School Dropout for the last 18 years (https://www.artschooldropout.net), is a professional quilter and freelance artist. She joined Makersmiths in 2017 to learn how to use the laser cutter, and since then is now skilled using 3D printers, the vinyl cutter, t-shirt press, welding equipment, woodshop, and CNC machines to make her art work and products that she sells online and at various craft shows and conventions. Jessee also assists our Cosplay members in helping them design and sew costumes. During our COVD-19 initiatives, she made many face masks and has helped onboard members virtually.
Julie Borneman joined Makersmiths in 2018. Julie is a VNLA Certified Horticulturist Chesapeake Bay Landscaping certified. She also currently serves on the Rural Economic Development Council for Loudoun County and runs her business, Watermark Woods Native Plant Nursery (https://www.watermarkwoods.com) in Hamilton, Virginia, the only pesticide-free nursery in Loudoun County. She has her own workshop at the nursery, and makes various welded and ceramics garden art that grace native plant gardens. She is also currently serving on the Loudoun Wildlife Conservancy as the board president. As a Makersmiths member, she has shared her ceramics skills in our ceramics shop, such as teaching how to make these nested soap dishes.
Tami Scannell and her husband, Pat, are founding members of Makersmiths. Tami has a long history of adventure and creativity. She skied for the United States Ski Team in the sport of inverted aerials, coached the largest freestyle skiing program in the nation and her corporate career included marketing for Olympic sports, telecommunications and technology. At Makersmiths, Tami enjoys using the CNC, laser cutter, woodshop, blacksmithing, kilns and welding equipment. Her favorite projects include: A welded wine bottle Christmas tree, mentored by Jim Waldron. Christmas ornaments and signs for Snickers Gap Christmas Tree Farm. An ocean themed towel rack on the CNC, supervised and guided by Jim. To date her "piece de resistance", is a replica of the Thomas Jefferson revolving book stand, she built under the tutelage of Mike Dewan. One of the few times, in 30 years, she was able to give Patrick something he needed and did not have. For Tami it is curative and rewarding to make items that solve for a need or create something that gives joy. Tami states the hidden beauty of Makersmiths is getting to know other makers, sharing ideas, learning and celebrating the accomplishments of working together. Makersmiths is a unique community of ingenious and inspiring people for whom she is incredibly thankful for. The only downside is, not having enough time to do all of the projects on her wish list.
Tami states the hidden beauty of Makersmiths is getting to know other makers, sharing ideas, learning and celebrating the accomplishments of working together. Makersmiths is a unique community of ingenious and inspiring people for whom she is incredibly thankful for. The only downside is, not having enough time to do all of the projects on her wish list.
Her next projects include:
* Pounding out an Irish Kilt Pin
* Building a toilet paper dispenser, in the wall that automatically replaces itself and discards the inner cardboard roll
* Catching up with Dave Painter to make a casting of a brass moon candle holder
Makersmiths Leesburg: 106 Royal St SW, Leesburg, VA 20175Makersmiths Purcellville: 785 S. 20th St, Purcellville, VA 20132
You can also watch Virtual Tours on our YouTube Channel!
Normally the best way to get to know us better is to just come on by during one of our Open Houses:
You can email firstname.lastname@example.org to request a tour if those days don't work for you. We're here to help get you making the best way we can!
Makersmiths is a 501(c) non-profit organization. 106 Royal St SW, Leesburg, VA 20175