Next round of InfyMakers open to young makers

UPDATE: Finalizing your ‪#‎InfyMakers‬ entry? Infosys has set up two Q&A Webinars this week to answer all your questions: (WED 1/27 4pm PST) (FRI 1/29 6pm PST)

If you prefer, there is a teleconference or voice only version for both dates: 

Call-in number: 1-617-9365607  (US)

US Toll Free: 1844 445 2700

Attendee access code: 587 538 6919 


The deadline for the second round of Infy Makers Award is February 1 and this round, youth and children can enter as well.

25 young Makers (under 18) will win $1,000 each. In addition, each young winner can also nominate a school, library or community organization to receive a grant worth $10,000 to establish a Makerspace. The award nomination form for young Makers can be found at the Infy Makers website. As in the last round, 10 adults will win $10,000 each as well.

To enter, submit a short video about an existing project and fill out the entry form.

Please carefully read and follow entry requirements.

The judges will be looking for projects that provide solutions to real world problems and are innovative uses of technology. They will also be looking at originality of ideas and quality of presentations.

The Infy Makers Awards is a Maker Awards program from Infosys Foundation USA to support Makers in the United States. The winners of the 2015 fall cycle round can be found here.

To stay connected follow #InfyMakers on twitter.

DEADLINE: Apply to ASSET's Spring 2016 research and development pilots

UPDATE: The Nature of Science through Air Quality (Grades 3-8) is now on March 4, 2016.  To apply follow this link


ASSET STEM Education, a part of the CREATE Lab Satellite network, is a national education improvement nonprofit with professional development, hands-on educational materials, and consulting services. 

The Satellite Network combines tech innovation with education know-how to empower communities and schools. Outreach teams at colleges of education (Marshall, West Liberty, Carlow and West Virginia Universities) locally adapt, pilot and share CREATE Lab projects. ASSET amplifies the impact of satellites, through professional development to an ever-broadening set of locations. 

ASSET has a series of upcoming research and development pilots in early 2016. Below are details on the upcoming pilot programs. The deadline to participate is December 15, 2015.  

Project-Based Learning: Design and Development (Grades K-6 / January 12-13, 2016)

(This pilot involves professional development only. Recommended resource, Project-Based Learning: Differentiating Instruction for the 21st Century by: Wm. Bender, is optional.)

This course is offered to educators in all curricular areas who want to design, develop and implement a Project-Based Learning (PBL) experience for their students.  Participants will establish foundational knowledge of the essential features/characteristics of Project-Based Learning such as: crafting an anchor and driving question, planning opportunities for feedback and revision, and engaging students in cross-curricular instruction and learning.  Participants will use those components to design and develop their own PBL.  They will leave the course with the outline of a PBL plan. 

Nature of Science through Air Quality (Grades 3-8 / February 4, 2016)

(This pilot involves a materials component, as well as professional development.)

Please NOTE: The SPECK Sensor will be provided for the pilot ONLY and must be RETURNED at the conclusion of the pilot implementation. 

The Nature of Science through Air Quality course will equip classroom educators with the confidence in teaching and content knowledge needed to help students engage in the Nature of Science to explore air quality in their community. Teachers will develop a project that will engage students in their own learning by asking: Have others reached the same conclusions? What do these findings mean? What consequences, if any, are associated with these findings? What should be done? Who are the stakeholder groups and how might they be affected? As a result, students will experience the real-life implications of scientific knowledge--that there is meaning and utility attached to scientific findings. 

As part of the ASSET STEM Education Research and Development process, we are looking for interested classroom teachers who will be able to attend professional development and engage in the SPECK Sensor technology within the classroom with a focus on the Nature of Science and investigations in Air Quality. 

As part of the pilot, participants will receive professional development and the SPECK Sensor to be utilized in the classroom. Please note that the professional development will engage participants in the use and capabilities of the technology, but is intended to be used to complement or enhance a school's existing curriculum, program or unit. Participants will be expected to develop a plan for implementing the Speck Sensor technology within their current curriculum.

First Steps in Coding (Pre-K-2nd Grade / March 9, 2016)

(This pilot involves professional development.)

Today’s young children are surrounded by technology. They do not know of a world without it. It is up to adults to help them understand its relevance and how technology is made. Part of understanding how technology is developed is for children to move from being a consumer of technology to being a producer of technology.  Children should know how computer technology is made because it is something they use every day. Coding helps children understand how this technology is made.  Through this course, participants will be introduced to coding strategies through the use of Bee-Bots, website activities, elementary coding apps and traditional classroom activities in order to develop computational thinking and gain an introductory understanding of coding. 

Although not required, collaboration between school districts and their local Early Learning Centers/Pre-schools is encouraged through this pilot to develop a more seamless transition from Pre-K to Early Elementary.


If you are interested in participating in an upcoming pilot, please complete this survey by December 15th.

UPDATED: Specks in Pittsburgh Public Libraries!

UPDATE: The Speck Study is still ongoing. To participate check out a Speck and complete this survey. 

If you've already checked out a Speck and returned it you can take the second part of the survey by selecting "No, I'm returning the Speck."

If you've checked out the Speck and completed both parts of the survey you will be entered win one of the five free Specks.


Speck air quality monitors are now available in 14 different Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh locations! Speck is an air quality monitor that detects fine particulate matter in your indoor environment and informs you about trends and changes in particle concentration.

The Speck can be used to test whether your vacuum exudes particles, whether your cleaning products are making your employees cough, whether your kitchen range hood exhausts to your child’s bedroom and more.

Check out a Speck from your local library and join our study to help us empower more people to explore and improve their indoor air quality. Find out how below. 

Participation is simple:

  1. Check out a Speck from the library
  2. Fill out a short survey BEFORE taking your Speck home
  3. Complete a brief final survey when you return the Speck

Joining the study also makes you eligible to win 1 of 5 free Specks!

Already checked out a Speck? You can still participate!

Sign up today -

Pittsburgh takes notice of Shenango Coke Works

Pittsburgh has been taking notice of DTE Energy’s Shenango Coke Works' activities on Neville Island thanks to the Shenango Channel (a time-lapse video feed of the island). In November alone three articles were published in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette in regards to the channel and Shenango Coke Works activities. 

Shenango Channel keeps an eye on the Neville Island sky

Randy Sargent, a senior systems scientist in the CREATE Lab, said the Shenango Channel empowers residents with an interactive way to access evidence in one location to support what they see or smell.

“What we’re seeing already is that the conversation is moving from allegations and denials — a ‘he said-she said’ situation — to a new thing that provides a lot more certainty and transparency,” he said. “These cameras are showing fugitive emissions from the coking operation and doing so in a powerful way.”

On November 16, Post-Gazette Environment reporter Don Hopey put a spotlight on just what the Shenango Channel does. For anyone not familiar with the channel and its origins this article is a great resource. Read the full article here.

"But what I see in the video [Shenango Channel]," he said, referring to images from the "Shenango Channel" that were projected on a screen at the front of the meeting room, "is totally unacceptable." -David Arnold, Acting Director of the EPA's Region III Air Protection Devision
Just a few days later the news broke that "federal and county regulators are reviewing whether recent, continuing, air pollution emissions problems at DTE Energy’s Shenango Coke Works on Neville Island put the facility in violation of its 2012 federal consent decree." 

The Post-Gazette reported that three EPA administrators from the Region III Air Protection Division in Philadelphia: Dave Arnold, acting director; Zelma Maldonado, associate director of enforcement; and Jim Hagedorn, a senior enforcement inspector attended the community meeting of the grassroots citizens group, Allegheny County Clean Air Now. Read the full article here. don’t have to be a pollution specialist to be able to keep an eye on the smokestacks yourself. Now people wary of the plant’s emissions are able to watch the results, 24/​7, even in their pajamas.
A few days later the Post-Gazette's Editorial Board weighed in on the importance of the civilian eye and creating the citizen scientist. The Editorial Board recalls Pittsburgh's captivation with the "eagle cam" last spring. They go on to say, "Raptors are one thing, but will people be as enthralled watching time-lapse video of air pollution? If they care about their health, they should be." Read the full article here.

Check out the video tour of the Shenengo Channel to become a citizen scientist and be witness to Pittsburgh's air quality.

GigaPan at Science Fair in Aldeia, Brazil

GigaPan was highlighted in three booths during the science fair at the Internacional School of Aldeia (EIA) in Camaragibe - PE, Brazil.

The theme for the science fair was I Like and I Share My Love for Aldeia. Aldeia is a neighborhood 15 km west of the city of Recife with a large area of well preserved Atlantic Forest.

Mrs. Juliana’s 4th grade booth used a GigaPan image as a backdrop. This GigaPan was taken by a group of 6th grade photography students. The image is of a fruit stand located about 100 meters from the school. The booth showed the importance of informal business in Aldeia.

Mrs. Ana Maria and her students designed a recreational guide for Aldeia. She used a GigaPan image taken of a small stream located on school property. View the GigaPan with the snapshot guide here:

Mrs. Vivian used an image of a Cashew tree to represent a timeline of Aldeia. The fruits, which were represented by photos, were hanging from the large print. On the left branches of the tree, the images show Aldeia before its major growth and development, and the pictures on the right of the tree, were current images of Aldeia.

The education gained and the experiences had, working with GigaPan and each other at EIA, is just the beginning. There are many more projects on the horizon.

Guest post by: Clara Phillips, Escola Internacional de Aldeia

Hummingbird Makeathon

Guest post by Tom Lauwers, Birdbrain Technologies

Birdbrain Technologies would like to invite Pittsburgh area high schoolers to join us for a free weekend of fun, creative making!

On September 26 & 27 we are holding a Hummingbird Makeathon where teams of teens will join together to create awesome robotic pets. 2 weeks later we will display these creatures to the community at our "Robot Petting Zoo" at the Pittsburgh Maker Faire.

The Makeathon is designed to be beginner friendly; teens do not need to have any experience with robotics or computer programming to attend, just a willingness to be creative and try new things! 

You can learn more and apply at:

If you have any questions please email us at

Meet CREATE Lab's first Social Entrepreneur in Residence

At CMU’s H. John Heinz III College, the Institute for Social Innovation (ISI) exists as a resource through which CMU students can use their newly formed skills in areas ranging from policy, management, and health care to data analytics, education, and media to develop cutting-edge tools, ventures, and initiatives for social impact. To this end, the ISI launched the Social Entrepreneurship in Residence program in 2014, in partnership with CMU’s Community, Robotics, Education and Technology Empowerment Lab (CREATE Lab).

For the 2014-15 academic year, Manoj Ravi, a second-year Global Master of Information Systems Management (Global MISM) student, worked with the CREATE Lab to help develop “Message from Me”.

Read more about the residency here.

Finch Loan Program for Classrooms and Libraries

Apply today to borrow some Finch robots, a perfect companion for computer science education!

Earlier this year BirdBrain Technologies loaned out 500 Finch robots to schools/libraries across the country to catalyze computer science activities.  

They are expanding the program once again: loaning out 750 Finches in total for use from October 2015 to August 2016. They have made a number of modifications to the program: you can now request to borrow as few as ten robots, and you can keep the robots for two months (or longer, if properly justified). Participation is completely free.

The Finch robot is an engaging tool for learning programming and computational thinking. It has support for over a dozen programming languages, including environments appropriate for students as young as eight years old. With light, temperature, and obstacle sensors, buzzers, LEDs, accelerometers, and even a pen mount for drawing, the options are limitless!
Learn more about the Finch and apply for the 2015/2016 loan program by August 2, 2015:

What is connected learning?

Guest post by Kyle Matthew Oliver

Connected learning is, in short, an opportunity for churches to more deeply engage with their communities and invest in local young people.

It is also a movement that acknowledges a truth churches have always known: that learning happens everywhere.

In communities across the country, especially in self-identified Cities of Learning, educators and other local leaders are finding ways to nurture and coordinate this learning, formal and informal. Connected learning partners include schools, libraries, museums, scouting groups, Boys and Girls Clubs, and—our perennial favorite in the faith formation world—households.

My friend and colleague Lisa Brown and I just attended a gathering of connected learning practitioners in Pittsburgh. It was sponsored by one of the major funders of connected learning initiatives in that region and hosted by Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Lab.

We came away with the strong conviction that congregations have a role to play in the connected learning ecosystems emerging all over the country.

On the whole, the educators we met seemed open to the idea of partnering with faith groups. Indeed, Michael Robbins of Span Learning came to his current work helping launch Washington’s District of Learning from a previous position at the Center for Faith-based and Neighborhood Partnerships at the U.S. Department of Education

But clearly it hadn’t occurred to most of the teachers and nonprofit leaders we met that they might reach out to churches for space to host connected learning programs or to partner in designing and offering them.

On further reflection, that wasn’t exactly surprising:

  • Finding the right partners and building sustainable collaborations in this emerging movement is not easy. And the religious dimension, including fear of young learners being proselytized, may make it particularly difficult to build trust around faith-based involvement in connected learning.
  • Poor church websites and IT infrastructure make it difficult to discover and promote programs at churches, and to host learning that takes advantage of Internet connectivity or other specialized tools.
  • Although churches have much to offer such partnerships—we are experienced event planners, savvy designers of age-appropriate learning experiences, and supporters and practitioners of the visual and performing arts—our interest and skill is probably not well-known to those coordinating connected learning initiatives.

We know lots of churches are already involved in formal and informal learning communities in their neighborhoods. Here are just some of the ways Christians have been involved in the connected learning movement before it was called that:

  • hosting and providing volunteers for after-school tutoring,
  • training young musicians through choir school programs,
  • sponsoring scouting troops,
  • contributing to mentoring and wellness programs for at-risk youth, and
  • (you knew it was coming) providing safe summer space and teaching the values of faith through summer camps and VBS.

We hope as this movement gains momentum, these experienced partner-ers will help teach the rest of us best practices for getting connected. We know that most faith groups need to do a better job of translating their missions to secular audiences and finding common cause with others who work for justice and the betterment of our communities.

I hope we will also reach out to the leadership of these increasingly sophisticated connected learning networks to learn about what they’re seeking: space needs, programming needs, leadership and volunteer needs.

I hope we will be creative and flexible in thinking through what we have to offer. We can do so much to invest in our communities and get churches on their radars in the process. “Butts in pews” are not the point of this work, though we know engaged congregations often grow as a result of their community involvement.

Helping transform our neighborhoods into places of vibrant and meaningful lifelong learning should be its own reward. And it fits perfectly into our mission—empowered as it is by the Spirit who leads us into all truth and connects us one to another.

Kyle Matthew Oliver (@kmoliver) is digital missioner and learning lab coordinator in the Center for the Ministry of Teaching. Before seminary, he helped found a connected learning network called The Hacker Within for graduate students in Madison, WI.

Photo credit: “Pick Your Play: Digital or Analog?” by Eugene Kim via Flickr (CC BY 2.0).