Interest of the day

A blog about miscellaneous topics.

PLAYfest 2021

morreale Thursday 11 of February, 2021

PLAYfest 2021 was just wonderful. It was held on January 28-29, 2021 online and was created by AnnMarie Thomas at the University of St. Thomas. Dr. Thomas runs the Playful Learning Lab and created the idea last summer as a result of the lack of interactions due to the COVID-19 Pandemic. The Friday session had a morning speaker session, workshops, a break, and then an afternoon speaker session and workshops. In the evening, the PLAY-full party commenced with activities and breakout sessions to meet conference attendees. The schedule on Saturday was similar with morning speakers and workshop. The afternoon consisted of additional speakers and breakout networking sessions.

Speakers included a filmmaker, maker, author, puppeteer, the CEO of LEGO, education research specialist, artist, digital fabricationist, educator, mathematician, musician, museum consultant, ecologist, critic, writer, Dean of engineering, novelist, and a director of special education. It was a fascinating conference.

Workshop Topics included working with LEGO, building a solar oven, creative thinking, building a robot, leaving things undone, novel engineering, making short films, visual story telling, Plantonic solids, paper circuits, FIRST robotics, fluids, animation, supporting parents and families in public spaces, 3D printing, circuits, pixel art, drawing, working with paper, creating a video poem, exoplanets, zoom, P5.JS programming, mathematics, interactive digital tools for story telling, engineering with paper, dancing with AI, rap, Draw2code, word play, building 3D models with cardboard, and how to fail to name a few.

My short course conflicted with Session 1, Workshop A, and Session 2 so I missed some good talks, unfortunately. I was happy to learn that I could attend Eyes on Exoplanets by Rachel Zimmerman Brachman during the Friday afternoon workshops. It started with a tour of the solar system and worked out to a number of exoplanets (see the NASA links below).

I chatted with folks during the PLAY-full party in Zoom breakout rooms. I learned a lot about 3D printing from Joan Horvath from Noscriptum who writes books and runs workshops on 3D printing (see 3D Printing links below).

The speakers on Saturday were fascinating and I attended the Play with Code: The Joy of P5.js workshop by Carol Willing. p5.js is an open source JavaScript library (based on Processing.js) used to teach coding and has drawing capabilities. It runs in a web IDE so there is no setup. There is a large user community that has built a toolkit for computer-aided musicology, and Google AI has the p5.js TensorFlow project for studying machine learning, for example (see p5.js links below).


3D Printing




Playful Learning Lab






Untold stories of STEM

morreale Tuesday 20 of December, 2016
The White House is running a series of events celebrating the untold stories of women in STEM. Michelle Obama hosted some of the cast members from the new movie Hidden Figures which tells the story of the women working at NASA and their contributions to the Mercury, Gemini, and Apollo space programs.


Shale gas vs coal

morreale Monday 10 of October, 2016
If you saw the gentleman in the red shirt at the debate last night, well it turns out EPA regulations aren't holding coal production back. According to a new report, it turns out the natural gas industry is advancing technology at a faster rate than to coal industry. His shirt color choice is unfortunate (Star Trek fans know what I mean), but workers in that industry might find other jobs in clean energy if retraining programs are available. The coal industry should also adopt R&D programs into carbon technology that mirrors the semiconductor industry. We are just in the beginning of the carbon electronics development and it could have a major positive impact on our economy.


The physics photographer

morreale Saturday 10 of September, 2016
Reidar Hahn has been photographing physics project at the FemiLab for 29 years. Business Insider has posted some of his wonderful photographs that show some of the high tech devices used to understand how the universe works. The Symmetry website was the first to give him the title of The Physics Photographer.


30 Most Influential Women in 3D Printing

morreale Wednesday 17 of August, 2016
The All3DP website has posed a list of the 30 Most Influential Women in 3D Printing. The top five include:
  • Neri Oxman — Professor at Mediated Matter Lab, MIT
  • Limor “LadyAda” Fried — Founder of Adafruit
  • Arita Mattsoff — Global Marketing Manager at Stratasys
  • Kerry Hogarth — Founder of Additive Manufacturing Show
  • Jennifer A. Lewis — Professor at Harvard & Founder of Voxel8

Laser cut dress

morreale Monday 25 of July, 2016
Nancy Yi Liang designed and made a laser cut dress with ArcSin function pattern.



morreale Thursday 05 of May, 2016
CRISPR-Cas9 is a genetic engineering tool that lets researchers program genes easily. Watch this technology because it will be an important in developing cures for genetic diseases, altering DNA, and making things that perhaps should not be made. Geneticist Jennifer Doudna describes the technology, it's uses, and asks the genetic engineering community to work out the ethical issues before using the technology.