The Charge Car: First Impressions on my First Ride

I didn't know what to expect for my first ride in "the charge car." It was definitely QUIET as others have reported.  It is so quiet you don't even realize when the car is running unless the driver announces that it has started. I was one of a group of teachers touring the "Electric Garage" as part of an Educational Robotics Graduate Course that was offered this summer at CMU.The Electric Garage was a sight to see in itself. It's an exhibit of the different stages of the car's development. Having a peek under the hood finding open spaces where you would expect to see the engine,  seeing an electrical outlet where the gas cap would be, and noting that this vehicle has some "junk the trunk," or batteries, made this a surreal experience.  I was in the second group of riders, so I got to see and hear the first group of riders drive away from the Electric silence.  For some reason, the Electric Garage sign made think of the "Electric Slide" but we didn't do any line dancing while we were waiting for the car to return. You do need to be alert when the car is backing up, because you really can't tell when the car is going to move.  The only sounds you can hear from the outside are the wheels gently rolling over the pavement, like when a car is in neutral and you have to get out and push it.  So, no noise pollution and since there are no exhaust fumes - no air pollution either! When the car returned, I took the front passenger seat and used a Flip Camera to document the ride. (Illah Nourbakhsh, Professor of Robotics is the driver.) You can ride along virtually with the rest of's a smooth ride ...check out this video.

Zee Ann Poerio
Teacher, St. Louise de Marillac School

Gigapanning in our Perimeter: 6 Young Women Experience Using the Gigapan Cameras


Ellis School is located between Shadyside and East Liberty in Pittsburgh, PA. Every year in May the Upper School (grades 9-12) has 10 days of special classes that we call “Mini-Courses” after exams are finished. Carnegie Mellon’s CREATE Lab generously loaned us 4 Gigapans to creatively explore our immediate environment around our campus. Students made decisions about which direction to walk for each shoot. They photographed in Mellon Park, the new shopping center nearby, and East Liberty. As it was quite hot, we ended up photographing cool church interiors at least twice. Students were definitely inspired by the impressive architecture of these structures. They also experimented with sky gigapans, 360˚ views, extremely narrow views, and Escher-like staircases. We tried manipulating big tiff files and hit the limits of our computers’ ability to compute!

Rather than assign a theme, it was interesting to see what areas the students would chose to explore themselves. Some of the funky accidents and outcomes hinted at possible creative possibilities for future projects. The girls loved having their images on the public forum of the Gigapan website, and they loved looking at what other people posted all over the world. Students sometimes saved their stitched images as tiff files, sized them down, tweaked them in Photoshop and made fairly large prints. In short, they had a wonderful introduction to this unique medium.

Here are the website addresses for the student gigapans:

Hannah’s:    East Liberty Presbyterian Church    Bakery Square, East Liberty    Fountain, Mellon Park, adjacent to the Annie Seamans Memorial    Calvary Episcopal Church, East Liberty


Shae’s: East Liberty Presbyterian Church (360˚)   “Industry” (old Nabisco Factory)



Morgan’s:   Gated Courtyard at Mellon Park  Sacred Heart Church in Pittsburgh   Ellis Arbothnut  House


Ashna’s:  East Liberty Church   Mellon Park


Chelsea’s:  Sky Gigapan  (Mellon Park)  Stairway  Inside Church


Campbell’s:   Sacred Heart Church  Sacred Heart Church

Posted by Karen Kaighin
Photography and Video Instructor, Ellis School, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania


Kindergarten's Day at College

Last Friday-- 27 May-- we boarded a school bus to travel to Carnegie Mellon University's CREATE Lab. My 20 kindergarten students, carrying small suitcases full of circuit-building materials, were set to present their learning to a room full of CREATE Lab researchers. Mr. Jeremy (Jeremy Boyle, teaching artist who has worked with us all school year) met us outside and we walked together to the Lab meeting room. I have no idea what my students thought college was going to be like. We had been talking about it for weeks, but all they knew was that they were "going to college" for a day of teaching and learning.  

Once we settled into the meeting room, looked around, asked initial questions and shook hands to greet our new friends, children began their presentations. In partners, children opened their suitcases and taught the group something they have learned from our integrated project work this year, what Mr. Jeremy and I have named "Innovation Time." Topics included: What is a circuit? - What can be inside a toy? - What is a switch? - What can be conductive? - What is power? - What happens when you add more electrical power? - What can you do if you don't have more power? (series-parallel circuits) - When does polarity matter? (with a motor and with an LED) - What is a potentiometer?

As children shared what they know about circuits they became more and more comfortable with the idea of presenting to an audience (beyond our classroom). They asked, "Does anyone have any questions?" and if asked a question that other children in the class planned to teach about (a question about polarity, for example, came up early in the group presentation), the other children would say "someone else is going to teach that" or "don't tell them, shhh" (almost like it was secret what they were presenting to this group of researchers). 

What was evident through children's presentation of their learning was that young children (ages 5 and 6) have the capacity to know a lot about circuits and can appropriate what they know for their own expressions. With materials that are easy for small hands to use and a learning environment that promotes both exploration and expression, robotics content that may seem appropriate only for older children is not only appropriate for children of this age group, but is profoundly engaging and empowering.

Children's presentation of learning was only the first hour and a half of our day. Next, children got to learn about the GigaPan project, visit the Snakebots Lab, had a lunch meeting to explore the traits that make a robot a robot, take a tour of the High Bay and the Machine Shop (Illah told all of us to put our hands in our pockets) and finally we all walked across the street to learn about the ChargeCar.

This was a life-changing day for my students. We are still talking about all that we learned. Children are drawing and writing in books that tell all about what they did and learned. My students will continue to think about what is inside of things and how things work and this project (and this special day at college) have instilled in them the belief that they have the power to change how things are made. They can create new circuits to do new things, things that help the world-- bring people together, help the environment, and anything else they can imagine.

An enormous thank you to everyone in the CREATE Lab for this fabulous learning opportunity.



Melissa Butler, teacher

Pittsburgh Allegheny K-5

Pittsburgh Public Schools


[The specifics of our scope and sequence this past school-year, as well as the depth of meaning-making that is evident from children's work samples from this project are for another post. Jeremy and I are both working on organizing this data and reflecting on it to plan for next school year.]

Teacher Gives GigaPan A+

I am a teacher in an elementary/middle school in the Diocese of Pittsburgh and I learned about the GigaPan at TRETC, an educational technology conference two years ago where Dror Yaron introduced this robotic device at one of the sessions.  After seeing what the GigaPan could do, my mind was spinning faster than the 360 feature of the GigaPan itself, and I was recording mental snapshots in my mind about how I could use this incredible technological wonder at my school.  I wanted a GigaPan, but our school had other needs for our budget.  I didn’t give up hope.  I mentioned my interest to a parent from our PTG group after our mini-curriculum night at school.  About a week later, his son delivered a GigaPan Beta to my classroom!   This was such a surprise and I was so excited and thankful.  Now, I could start “stitching” my ideas together to create our school GigaPan project.  I had collaborated with our local Best Buy through a Best Buy Teach Award a couple of years ago, so I contacted the store  to see if they had a compatible camera. Best Buy generously donated one along with a 4GB memory card!  The school purchased the batteries with a charger and we already had a tripod and computer.  So,  we were ready to start GigaPanning!

I have a small Audio Visual team of middle school students at school and we learned how to set up the camera by watching Dr. Illah Nourbakhsh’s tutorials on YouTube.  The students learned so much and we got right to work and photographed our “Grand Canyon” bookshelves - similar to the bookshelf model used in Dr. Nourbakhsh’s tutorials.  We experimented with more GigaPanning throughout the year and learned a lot by trail and error. 

I took advantage of the opportunity to attend a hands-on GigaPan training at CMU on April 20, 2011. Tom, a seventh grade student who helps to train other students using the GigaPan, also attended with his mother.  This three hour session let by Clara Phillips was a great opportunity to review what we had been doing, get additional tips and tricks, share our successes with other GigaPanners, and ask questions.  Clara took her time demonstrating everything from setting up the camera and tripod to stitching and uploading the images to the GigaPan site.  She explained each step of the how to share GigaPans, take shapshots, benefits of tagging your photos, and placing them in Google Earth.  We also had the opportunity to take some GigaPans on site and share them.  The workshop was very well organized and it was a pleasure to be part of this class.  I also enjoyed meeting all the other attendees.

An added bonus to attending this workshop was meeting “Tank” the roboceptionist who directed us to the class when we entered the Newell-Simon Hall.  Thank you to CREATE Lab for all that you do for teachers, students, and the community!

Here is the animoto....

Zee Ann Poerio, Teacher
St. Louise de Marillac School

Selected for the Gigapixel Science Juried Exhibition

LARGE scale prints (4 feet high and up to 17 feet wide) of these images will be unveiled on November 11 at Carnegie Museum of Natural History, in conjunction with the opening of the Fine International Conference on Gigapixel Imaging for Science.

The prints will be on display to the public at the museum through the end of the year.

Learn more     Register to attend conference 

Follow Fine Outreach for Science on Twitter @FOFSgigapan


Eagle's Nest petroglyph, Jubbah, northern Saudi Arabia 
by Richard T. Bryant 


Galapagos Bait Ball of Salema 
by Jason Buchheim 


The Big Four 
by Andrew R. Deans and Matthew A. Bertone 


Unhealthy Honey Bee Frame
by Dennis vanEngelsdorp and Michael Andree 


Bergamot and Hummingbirds, Vermont 
by Chris Fastie 


by Molly Gibson 


Penguins at Cape Crozier 
by Stephanie Jenouvrier 


From Sierra de en Medio 
by Rurik List 

Take Part in the Pittsburgh Gigapanoarama

On Thursday, September 23rd (weather permitting), a team of talented gigapanners will be capturing a stupendous photographic portrait of Pittsburgh. You are invited to take part. 

Designed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University, the GigaPan robotic camera mount is capable of capturing explorable, multi-gigapixel panoramas. From approximately 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on the 23rd, we plan to take a series of GigaPans consisting of thousands of photographs from the top of the U. S. Steel Tower, a high point in southwest Pennsylvania. You can be in the picture, more than once if you move around. It’s free, fun, and you will be making history.  Here's how you can join the fun:

1. Check the first Pittsburgh Gigapanorama at Zoom in and find a familiar spot in the landscape where you’ll be seen.  The closer to the Tower the better, but any place that can be seen in the first image should also be visible in the second. 

2. Let us know who you are and where you'll be by visiting the Pittsburgh Gigapanorama FaceBook page or following the STUDIO for Creative Inquiry on twitter @CreativeInquiry. Please provide an e-dress and/or cell phone number so we communicate with you before, during, and after the shoot. 

3. We plan to take the image in four geographic segments on this approximate schedule:

 A. 11:00 – 12:00 – Oakland, the Hill South Side and points east

 B. 12:00 - 1:00 - The Strip, Lawrenceville and points north

C. 1:00    2:00 - Station Square, Mt. Washington, South Hills and points west

D. 2:00 –  3:00 - North Shore, PNC Park, and points north.

Plan to be in your position before shooting for your section starts and be ready to follow our Twitter feed on-site so you’ll know when we actually start taking pictures in your direction. 

While you can just stand in place and smile, we encourage creativity. Wear a costume or colorful clothing; hold a sign or banner, anything to help you stand out from the landscape. Also, bring a cell phone that day so we can communicate when we are shooting images in your direction.  Also have someone snap a picture of your display that you can send us.  

Since the Pirates will be playing in PNC Park at 12:35, you can also be in the picture simply by going to the game and sitting on the right or left sides of the field (no outfield seats).

We hope to release the completed image online in late October, when you will be able to visit the image, find and take a snapshot of your participation. We’ll also make a large (4 feet x 25 feet) print of the image and include it as part of our gigapanorama exhibit "New Perspectives of Pittsburgh" which will be in the Photo Forum Gallery in the upper lobby of the U. S. Steel Tower from October 11 through November 19, 2010.  Details to follow.

So join the fun and please also share this information with your Pittsburgh networks and contacts so others can participate. 

The Pittsburgh Gigapanorama project was initiated by David Bear at CMU’s STUDIO for Creative Inquiry and has received support from the Heinz Endowments and Sprout Fund.

The Homewood Children’s Village(HCV) celebrated its official public launch

The Homewood Children’s Village and PNCIS have been using the gigapan
to document the surroundings of Helen Faison Primary School.
Yesterday during The Homewood Children’s Village official public launch, community members
and students saw a large gigapan print and were able to annotate ideas and thoughts direct into the large canvas.

Last Summer ChargeCar Event: Fri July 30

We would like to invite you to our final community event and cookout of the summer on Friday, July 30th at 7pm, at the Electric Garage.

We will be hosting a public policy community day. In addition to invited members and representatives from local government and Pittsburgh's Group Against Smog and Pollution (GASP), CMU professor and former NASA astronaut Jay Apt will be giving a presentation on the electric grid.  Professor Apt will begin at 8:30pm.


    The Electric Garage is located at the former Exxon Gas Station on the 4600 block of Forbes Avenue, next to CMU

    Map and directions here

    pre-garage Street view:

    View Larger Map


    To stay up to date on all things ChargeCar, please visit and join our forum and mailing list.

    ChargeCar July 23rd Community Event and Cookout

    Join us at the Electric Garage this Friday evening at 7PM.

    We will be hosting a town-hall-style meeting/forum. This week, in addition to our normal open house, we'd like to switch it up a bit and invite everyone to suggest future community events and projects, as well as talk about anything that is EV related.

    To get the gears turning, here are a few questions that we've already brainstormed: 
    • Roughly ten years ago, electric vehicles gained a lot of visibility and popularity when car companies offered EVs to consumers and corporate fleets. Today, we can easily see the momentum gaining again, so how can we prevent a repeat of the last EV boom's decline?  Ten years later, what is different that would make it easier (or more difficult) us to do so?
    • While car companies are making large strides in the direction of EV production, some of them say that the future success of EVs will be largely based on collaboration between car companies.  Others can argue that competition is a large factor in moving the auto industry forward.  Is the EV going to foster a new age of automotive collaboration, or will competition lead the way?
    • On the policy side of progress, some countries are mandating that a certain percentage of public transportation use alternative fuel by a certain date. Can EVs be a part of this ideal, or should popularity and usage be left up to consumers?
    • How is ChargeCar different from the solutions from auto makers both now, and in the future?  What can we do to make ChargeCar a viable option?


    The Electric Garage is located at the former Exxon Gas Station on the 4600 block of Forbes Avenue, next to CMU

    Map and directions here

    pre-garage Street view:

    View Larger Map


    To stay up to date on all things ChargeCar, please visit and join our forum and mailing list.

    ChargeCar July 9th Community Event and Cookout

    Join us at the Electric Garage this Friday evening, July 9th:


    Members from the West Virginia University Electric Vehicle Association are bringing their Formula Lightning open-wheel race car
    Electric Vehicles from the Three Rivers Electric Vehicle Association on display
    We will be serving grilled fruits and vegetables. 



    Pennsylvania State Senator Jim Ferlo's Policy and Projects Liason, Mikhail Pappas, will be speaking about the proposed moratorium on Marcellus Shale drilling in Pennsylvania.



     Outdoor screening of the documentary Gasland followed by a short discussion.
    Please bring chairs and blankets for seating during the movie

    Feel free to invite your friends and family.


    The Electric Garage is located at the former Exxon Gas Station on the 4600 block of Forbes Avenue, next to CMU.

    Map and directions here


    pre-garage Street view:

    View Larger Map