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Cemetech at World Maker Faire 2016 Recap
Published by KermMartian on October 8, 2016 at 1:09:35 AM CST | Discuss this article (6)

For the fifth year in a row, Cemetech spent last weekend at World Maker Faire in New York City, showing off the value of learning programming and electronics with graphing calculators. Since 2012, we have been going to the Faire to display hardware and software projects, talk to kids, their parents, teachers, and the general public, and generally just to enjoy a weekend outside. Two weeks ago, we announced that we'd be at the Faire for a fifth year, after over three months of planning what we would show at Maker Faire. Like last year, we heavily focused our message on the fact that programming (and electronics) are vital skills to have, even if you don't go into STEM fields, and that graphing calculators are the perfect way to get started. Many of you have heard my spiel too many times already:

Graphing calculators are an ideal platform on which to learn programming, because most high school students in the US already have them, carry them around in school and commuting, and can whip them out to work on their latest projects. You don't need to download, install, or configure anything; just hit [PRGM] on most graphing calculators, and you can instantly start writing TI-BASIC (or a similar language) directly on the device. You don't have to worry about breaking the calculator: make a mistake, and it'll probably help you find where you made a mistake, and what you did wrong. Calculator programming adds an element of competition, and has done so before the term "social media" had even been coined: you can send your programs to your friends' calculators, get the prestige of having created a cool program or game from scratch, and look at how things other people made work. Finally, as you get more advanced, you can advance to a more complex language like C or ASM that lets you go even deeper into concepts like computer science and computer architecture, or even electrical engineering.



This year, we ended up showing off a variety of projects to make these points; from left to right along our table:
  • Whack-a-Mole: Built with a TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, a TI MSP432 Launchpad, and lots of RGB LEDs and light sensors, the Whack-a-Mole project was a hit at World Maker Faire 2015 and T^3 2016.
  • CALCnet Networking Demo: Four TI-83 Plus calculators connected via CALCnet, running the Flourish demo, showing how you can build and test a complex communication protocol with just the hardware your calculators provide, plus a few wires.
  • GPS Demo: A version of the GPS for graphing calculators project, allowing a calculator to communicate with a GPS module to get its latitude, longitude, altitude, the current time, and more.
  • SimpleI/O Demo: First displayed this year at T^3 2016, the SimpleI/O demo illustrates how easy it is to connect an Arduino to a graphing calculator. It shows how a calculator can read the state of pins on an Arduino to see if you're pressing a button or toggling a switch, and how the calculator can in turn control LEDs, motors, and more.
  • Sound Demo: A TI-84 Plus Silver Edition with mobileTunes and songs by Alec "qazz42" Szigeti and Thomas "elfprince13" Dickerson, plus my floppy drive music with a TI-83 Plus project.
  • Interactive calculators for games: a TI-84 Plus CE, TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition, TI-84 Plus Silver Edition, and if any of them are still working, a Casio Prizm, with games and other programs loaded.
  • "Using the TI-84 Plus" and "Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus": As has become traditional, we brought copies of my books as examples of written reference material that new learners could explore outside of Cemetech. "Programming the TI-83 Plus/TI-84 Plus" teaches programming concepts to beginners via TI graphing calculators, giving them a toolbox of programming knowledge they can bring to any programming language. "Using the TI-84 Plus" is the missing manual: a gentle guide to the vast array of math and science features available on TI graphing calculators, grounded in plenty of examples just like the ones students might see in class or on the SATs.
  • Learn to Program demo: A giant calculator emulator, with key entry from a real TI-84 Plus C Silver Edition calculator. Aims to teach visitors to write a simple guessing game in 60 seconds.
Unfortunately, although we wanted to display the TI-84 Plus Calculator Electrocardiogram (ECG) project I've recently been working on, it wasn't ready in time for the Faire.



All of this year's volunteers at the Cemetech booth were veterans of at least three World Maker Faires. From left to right above, our booth was manned by Nathaniel "Eeems" van Diepen, also an administrator on Omnimaga, Tim "geekboy1011" Keller, Cemetech global moderator, community liason, and Omnimaga jack-of-all-trades, Alec "qazz42" Szigeti, loyal Cemetechian who has attended every single Maker Faire with us, and head honcho Dr. Christopher "Kerm Martian" Mitchell, founder and administrator of Cemetech and yours truly. Everyone pitched in wholeheartedly, whether talking to the thousands of visitors who stopped by our tables to explain Cemetech's mission and why we were at the Faire, keeping our demos running, or protecting the interactive calculators from the destructive hands of small children. We combined exhausting 10am-6pm days at the Faire (more like 8am to 8pm with travel, setup, and teardown) with our annual traditions of socialization, dinners, and enjoying each other's in-person company. As always, most of us also stopped by Maker Faire on Friday night to start setting up, get paella, beverages, and tasty desserts, and start setting up our booth.



By the end of the weekend of October 1-2, 2016, we had given away all of our Cemetech bookmarks (a first for us!), worn out our voices, and explained graphing calculators to visitors young and old. Most importantly, we left satisfied that we had opened many more eyes about the value of exploring programming and electronics with calculators, and excited to see some of our more enthusiastic visitors again here on Cemetech.



My heartfelt thanks to everyone who helped make our fifth World Maker Faire appearance a resounding success, especially Tim, Nathaniel, and Alec who joined me for two long days of telling students, teachers, parents, professionals, and the general public why they should learn programming and electronics with their graphing calculators. The encouragement of everyone here on Cemetech was a big help as well, and several of you stepped up and offered to share the burden of preparing for the Faire. I hope that we'll see as many of you as possible as attendees at the Faire next fall, and if you're interested in helping staff the table, please speak up!



Permalink
2016 Articles
January 2016 January 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: December 2015 published January 1, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Cemetech Contest #15, Challenge 4 published January 5, 2016 by KermMartian
» Consumer Electronics Show 2016 - A Brief Review published January 12, 2016 by Alex
» Cemetech Contest #15, Challenge 5 published January 13, 2016 by KermMartian
» TI and NASA Announce "mISSion imaginaTIon" published January 15, 2016 by KermMartian
» Graph3DC 1.0 Open Beta 2 published January 18, 2016 by KermMartian
» Light-Based Whack-a-Mole Powered by TI-84+CSE and MSP432 published January 21, 2016 by KermMartian
» Graph3DC 1.0: 3D Grapher for TI-84 Plus C SE Released published January 26, 2016 by KermMartian
» Mateo Does it Again - C SDK, Libraries, and LibLoad published January 30, 2016 by pimathbrainiac

February 2016 February 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: January 2016 published February 2, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Cemetech Contest #15 Results and Winners published February 4, 2016 by KermMartian
» ArTICL SimpleI/O Demo: LEDs, Buttons, Switches, and a Motor published February 11, 2016 by KermMartian
» Cemetech User Promotions: New Moderators and more! published February 12, 2016 by Alex
» TI-Nspire OS 4.2, NASA "Fuel for the Fire" Activity published February 18, 2016 by KermMartian
» TI-Nspire CX OS 4.2, mISSion imaginaTIon, and More! published February 19, 2016 by pimathbrainiac
» Cemetech Returns to T^3 2016 in New Role published February 22, 2016 by KermMartian
» SourceCoder 3 RC 1: TI-84+CE C Programming, More published February 23, 2016 by KermMartian
» Presenting Learn @ Cemetech published February 25, 2016 by KermMartian
» Cemetech at T^3 International Conference 2016 published February 29, 2016 by KermMartian

March 2016 March 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: February 2016 published March 1, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Sneak Peek at Upcoming TI-BASIC Features published March 2, 2016 by elfprince13
» Cemetech Contest #16: Chatty Cyborgs published March 2, 2016 by jonbush
» Happy Pi Day 2016 published March 14, 2016 by KermMartian
» TI-BASIC Optimization Competition published March 16, 2016 by KermMartian
» Cemetech Minecraft 1.9 Intellectual Survival Easter Launch published March 27, 2016 by KermMartian
» Checkers, Game of Life Grace TI-84 Plus CE published March 28, 2016 by KermMartian

April 2016 April 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Doors CS 7 Source Code Released published April 1, 2016 by KermMartian
» GPU Technology Conference 2016 published April 5, 2016 by Alex
» TI-84 Plus CE Minesweeper Released published April 8, 2016 by KermMartian
» TI Teases New TI-84 Plus CE Colors: Gold, ??? published April 19, 2016 by KermMartian

May 2016 May 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» New TI-84 Plus CE Colors: White and Gold published May 10, 2016 by KermMartian
» Planned Cemetech Downtime: May 21st, 2016 published May 18, 2016 by Alex
» Projects of the Month: April 2016 published May 10, 2016 by tifreak8x
» May 22 Server Events: Scavenger Hunt, Border Expansion published May 22, 2016 by KermMartian

June 2016 June 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: May 2016 published June 7, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Cemetech Contest #17: On Rails published June 20, 2016 by jonbush
» ticalc.org Turns 20 published June 22, 2016 by tifreak8x
» White and Gold TI-84 Plus CE Calculators Now Available published June 24, 2016 by KermMartian

July 2016 July 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: June 2016 published July 11, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Coming Soon: The TI-Innovator System published July 16, 2016 by KermMartian
» Cemetech to Cover SIGGRAPH 2016 published July 24, 2016 by KermMartian
» Hands-On with the Gold TI-84 Plus CE (2016) published July 29, 2016 by KermMartian

August 2016 August 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» PT_ Releases ICE - An Interpreter/Compiler of CE-BASIC published August 6, 2016 by pimathbrainiac
» STEM and Exploring Mars: A Chat with Z. Nagin Cox of NASA published August 10, 2016 by KermMartian
» Projects of the Month: July 2016 published August 12, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Win TI-84 Plus CEs with Photos of Math for the Win published August 13, 2016 by KermMartian
» SIGGRAPH 2016 Highlights: Basketball with OptiTrack published August 16, 2016 by elfprince13
» Clouttery: Manage All Your Devices' Batteries Effortlessly published August 19, 2016 by KermMartian
» Back to School 2016: What Graphing Calculator Should I Buy? published August 26, 2016 by KermMartian
» OS 5.2 for the TI-84 Plus CE: New TI-BASIC Commands published August 31, 2016 by KermMartian

September 2016 September 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: August 2016 published September 4, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Hands-On with the TI-Innovator published September 20, 2016 by merthsoft
» Cemetech Going to World Maker Faire 2016 for 5th Year published September 26, 2016 by KermMartian

October 2016 October 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Cemetech at World Maker Faire 2016 Recap published October 8, 2016 by KermMartian
» Projects of the Month: September 2016 published October 17, 2016 by tifreak8x

November 2016 November 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» Projects of the Month: October 2016 published November 11, 2016 by tifreak8x
» Unboxing the TI-Innovator Hub and Breadboard Pack published November 25, 2016 by KermMartian

December 2016 December 2016 [Back to News Archives Index]

» ticalc.org PotY 2016 Voting Begins published December 6, 2016 by KermMartian
» Contest #18: Winter Wonderland published December 18, 2016 by jonbush
» PT_ Promoted to Global Moderator published December 23, 2016 by KermMartian
» Merry Christmas, Happy Holidays and New Year from Cemetech published December 25, 2016 by KermMartian
» 2016 ticalc.org PotY Results Announced published December 30, 2016 by PT_

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