By Aine Sponholz
Fluxspace Intern, Perkiomen Valley High School
Future innovators and their families recently got a chance to put their minds to the test during a day filled with different activities, exhibits, and demonstrations. On Saturday, May 21st, Fluxspace had the science, technology, engineering, art, and math (STEAM) festival at their location in Norristown, Pennsylvania.
“STEAM festival is a free community event where folks can come out and learn what we do at Fluxspace,” VJ Taverna, an intern at Fluxspace, said. Anyone interested was welcome to come to the event in hopes that the Flux team and their associates would be able to show how STEAM is more than learning in a classroom, it is the things happening all around. Hopefully, children in attendance could get excited to learn about all the activities that they can unlock with STEAM.
While kids are a priority at the festival, Fluxspace members hope to inspire a wider range of people including teachers and parents. Seeing how different tools can be used, how the different age groups are capable of things, and examples of simple activities they can get kids involved with is vital to getting more access to innovation and design; kids need someone to help start their thinking processes.
As participants walked through the building they could hear the clicking and chiming of Jeremy DePrisco’s musical instrument, the whirling of Team Flight Control, the thumping from Asylon Robotics, and the wows of people all around experiencing the Dive Design Company and the Fluxspace activities. Having a range of people attend allows Fluxspace to “support our industry partners,” Simona Dwass, the makerspace specialist, said.
These different groups and people all brought a unique experience to the STEAM festival; it allowed kids to see how different aspects of life all fall under the STEAM category. People like Jeremy DePrisco who show kids that STEAM encompasses music and innovative ways to make sounds are a prime example of how different students with different talents can still be involved; the future is inclusive and has a spot for all people. Other groups came with their robotics prepared to show kids how the things that amaze them are actually being used in real life: a robot dog for security from Asylon, drones that can show different areas from Team Flight Control, and new ways to 3D print with flexible materials from Dive Design Company.
Different aspects of the technology and their purposes leave people feeling like “anyone interested in STEAM can jump right into it without being intimidated” VJ said. Together, everyone there showed a unique way that people are using technology and brain power to change the world.
The Fluxspace building itself is full of potential, and the festival allowed the Fluxspace team to show off what is already happening in the area. “We want to show the community what we already do and what we could do with this space,” Simona said.
Fluxspace workers have become accustomed to the Igloo virtual reality room, endless tinker toys of the creator space, 3D printers, laser cutters, and different codable robotics that they use daily, but for the families coming for the first time, all the tools showed how exciting and unique they really are. Crowd favorites are consistently the Igloo Vision virtual reality environment that allows them to feel a part of the videos and scenes shown, and everyone always loves the Artillery and Craft Bot 3D printers on which the interns have mastered printing little frogs for the kids. After exploring the building, people also start to realize how fun Strawbees (building straws), Sam Labs (a codable electronics tool), and Makey Makey (a circuitry and electronics tool), are and the different ways they can be used. The entire building was filled with kids using different electronics and building tools; STEAM came to life during the Fluxspace festival.
As Fluxspace workers look at the event from this year and begin to make hopes for the future, they all want to see the festival grow and become something people can look forward to. This year, over a hundred people came to the festival throughout the day. The festival was an opportunity to see how kids could engage and what supplies were needed, but after the wonderful day, Fluxspace knew that they could cater to a bigger audience.
“I hope to see more people and community engagement in the following years,” Simona said. The event is a great chance for kids in the area to get involved, where anyone is welcomed and everyone is wanted. The event could be bigger and lead to more involvement at things like summer camps and class events for the kids. Creating a festival that inspires students, families, and educators to spend more time with the possibilities of STEAM is in the future for Fluxspace.