Inclusive Computing

Artists & athletes, musicians & mathematicians -- all should have the opportunity to discover the fun of computer science by bringing creative robotic and electronic projects to life.  Gizmo Garden supports Maine libraries, schools, and after-school programs in running gender-balanced, hands-on projects for 5th-12th graders.

Book Giveaway Winners!

Congratulations to Will in Kingfield, Anna in Yarmouth, and Pablo in Ellsworth!  They've each won a biography of a computer scientist of their choice and a package of books for their respective school or public libraries:  Kingfield Elementary School, Merrill Memorial Library, and Ellsworth Public Library.

To enter the book giveaway, students viewed the video above showing applications of computer programming in Maine, and chose a favorite.  Will, a fan of outer space chose, the satellite oceanography going on at Bigelow Labs in Boothbay.  He thinks that "use of the satellite to help the ocean is really neat."  Anna was most engaged by the doppler bee hive activity monitoring happening at UMaine Orono.  She noted that "colonies of bees, who pollinate a vast majority of our crops and are vital to the ecosystem, are collapsing at an alarming rate," and that the UMaine computer analysis can help figure out why.  Pablo is fascinated by the organ regeneration database being built at MDI Biological Labs near Bar Harbor.  He hopes that one day the science advances to the point that we can "bring back some extinct species or keep some species from going extinct."

Library Events

Thanks to our partnership with the Maine State Library, Gizmo Garden programs are on the road!  Christina Dorman, the state's science & technology liaison, leads Gizmo Garden programs around the state.   Check out the videos below for sample programs, and contact your local librarian to see if there's a Gizmo Garden event scheduled near you.  Librarians wanting to schedule a program are welcome to contact Chris directly.

During the RoboPots program, students craft a plant pot and rig the electronics to make it self-watering.  This video was taken at Patten Free Library in Bath.

During the Invisible Xylophone program, students use computer code to have a speaker beep out tunes in response to the motion of a wand.  This video was taken at Skidompha Library in Damariscotta.

School Support

Gizmo Garden supports Maine schools and after-school programs, particularly in the Mid-Coast area, with equipment and with teaching support.  We are looking for 5th-12th-grade projects in the area of coding, electronics, and robotics.  Projects should engage gender-balanced groups in non-competitive environments.  We prefer robotics and drone programs that teach sensor-based autonomy over those that rely on joystick control.  We do not sponsor work in biological or ecological sciences and do not sponsor competitive teams.  To inquire about your specific idea, send us an email.  Below are examples of 2018 projects we've supported.

Mr. Felch's math class at Great Salt Bay Community School in Damariscotta enjoyed opening their new programmable graphing calculators.

Ms. Browne's science class at Edgecomb Eddy school assembled underwater robots, including learning to solder the control boards, and then enjoyed their creations at the swimming pool of the Boothbay YMCA.

Oceanside High in Rockland married art and electronics to create a Kinetic Sculpture.  Sensors on a rooftop weather vane send signals to a microcontroller.  The microcontroller then directs motors driving gears on a feather sculpture within a skylight.  The feather sculpture twists with the wind!

Mr. Crafts science class and Ms. Cough's art class at Bristol Consolidated School paired up to create RoboPots -- artistic plant pots with the electronics that make them automatically self-watering.