by Dot Cannon
Can you believe we have two months of 2017 under our belts–already?
Neither can we–but here are a few dates you might like to keep in mind. These are some of the upcoming “innovators’ events” to which we’re looking forward.
March 2, Toolbox L.A.
A new lunchtime series, hosted by Los Angeles’ first hardware accelerator, Make In L.A., in support of the Los Angeles ecosystem. Founders, creators, investors, and collaborators are all part of the mix in these events, held around the city. “Pitch and be pitched at,” says Make in L.A.’s website.
Toolbox L.A., March edition, is a free event, happening from 12:00 to 2:00 pm at General Assembly DTLA, 360 East 2nd Street (southeast of South San Pedro Street). in Suite 400. Admission is free; here’s the link for registration.
March 23rd-26th, Los Angeles Regional FIRST Robotics Competition.
FIRST Robotics is a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, sponsoring an exciting annual national sporting event. Students from high schools across the country team up to build robots. Each team has only six weeks to create theirs. Then, robot meets robot in a clash of technology and skill–which tends to be a lot of fun!
The general public is invited to see the competition, which has a highly creative theme. (In the 2016 edition, FIRST competitors had to navigate a medieval obstacle course, including going through a portcullis and over moats, to breach their opponents’ castle. This year, the theme is steampunk!) The winning teams get to compete in the national competition in April.
If you attend this year’s regional competition, and it’s anything like the one we saw in 2016, be prepared to cheer loudly, hold your breath for your favorite team, have a great time–and perhaps participate in the “chicken dance” or a rousing “seventh-inning-stretch” rendition of “YMCA”.
Los Angeles Regional First Robotics is open to the general public on Saturday, March 25th and Sunday, March 26th at Long Beach State University’s Walter Pyramid, 1250 North Bellflower Boulevard,. Doors open at 8:00 am each day, and this is an all-day event. Admission is free.
(Meanwhile, are you an educator, roboticist, other technical person or simply someone who thinks this is seriously cool? Here’s a link with more information on how you can get involved.)
April 21-23, OC Fair “Imaginology”.
Think “innovators’ community at its best” and you’ll have a great mental picture of this one! Imaginology is an annual non-profit education and entertainment fair, which the O.C. Fair and Event Center sponsors. 2017 marks their 38th annual “Imaginology” event, where preschool through high-school students can showcase their S.T.E.A.M. talents.
Videos, engineering projects, crafts, fine arts, fiber arts and much more will be on display in this weekend-long free event at the Orange County Fairgrounds. Friday, April 21, is “Field Trip Day”, with free parking for cars and buses. Here’s the link for registration, which is encouraged, but not required.
Meanwhile, if you’re a teacher, parent or youth-group leader who’d like to enter your young innovators’ projects in some of the Imaginology competitions, the entry deadline is March 24th at 6 pm. Here’s information on deadlines for entry, delivery and pickup.
2017 OC Fair “Imaginology” happens Friday, April 21 through Sunday, April 23rd at the Orange County Fair and Event Center, 88 Fair Drive in Costa Mesa. Hours are 9 am to 3 pm on Friday, and Saturday and Sunday from 10 am to 5 pm. Admission is free, but general parking, on Saturday and Sunday, is $8.
April 29-30, NASA 2017 Space Apps Challenge.
NASA sponsors this worldwide 48-hour “hackathon for good”, where teams or individuals can use NASA open data to solve, literally, any problem in the universe. And one of the best things about this, is that it’s not limited to science buffs. Storytellers, artists, and students are equally welcome at the table, and everyone has a role. Families, work groups or complete strangers can form a team, come up with a problem they’d like to solve, and, using provided technology and data, create a solution. Then, on Sunday, judges from NASA choose the best projects–and award prizes.
The 2016 Space Apps Challenge, which we attended at Pasadena’s Cross Campus Facility, started off with a great pre-event “Boot Camp”, designed to get women comfortable with the technology. (And it certainly did! Between the STEAM-oriented projects like creating light-up wearables, the introduction of coding as a “language” and the ability to ask questions in a nonthreatening environment, all the participants seemed very much at home with working on projects through the remainder of the hackathon.)
Worldwide, more than 15,000 people participated in 2016, according to the 2017 NASA Space Apps Challenge webpage. Participants included problem-solvers across six different continents, with more than 160 events around the globe. Last year’s Space Apps hackathon was the largest so far, but NASA hopes to surpass that this year. Host locations will soon be announced, and you’re invited to check back to attend a 2017 Space Apps Challenge in your part of the world.
NASA’s 2017 Space Apps Challenge happens Saturday and Sunday, April 29th and 30th, around the globe. This is a free event, with events soon to be announced. Participants of all skills, ages and backgrounds are welcome. Space Apps 2017’s theme is “Earth”; check Space Apps 2017’s webpage, Facebook or Twitter for updates on individual events.