Potato Project, part 2

As promised, here’s the latest on the Potato Project, Adventures in Growing Potatoes in a Trash Can.  Sounds delicious.

Our potatoes have sprouted!

Our potatoes have sprouted!

Cover them up with straw.

And let them grow on through.

About a week later, the shoots are growing through the straw.

A few weeks later, the plants are really growing tall!

A few weeks later, the plants are really growing tall!

They are growing so well, in   fact, that they have fallen over on to the electric fence. And gotten a little zapped.

They are growing so well, in fact, that they have fallen over on to the electric fence. And gotten a little zapped.

Being the Makers we are, we've cut away the burnt stems and built a little support.  Now, we just need to wait for the plants to flower.

Being the Makers we are, we’ve cut away the burnt stems and built a little support. Now, we just need to wait for the plants to flower. A few weeks after that, we’ll be ready to enjoy or harvest.


A Thing Downtown

Looking for something to do Saturday?  Come downtown  to Main Library. From noon to late at night, there’s fun for everyone.

Comics and Fandom your thing? Your in luck with Geekfest, the Akron-Summit County Public Library’s Mini-Comicon from noon to 4 pm.  Then, stick around to enjoy quirky handicrafts, great coffee and hotdogs, yoga, and a movie as Free Akron Outdoor Movies and The Coffee Pot Café in collaboration with the Akron-Summit County Public Library & Crafty Mart present  “A Thing Downtown.”

Enjoy.  Here’s the lineup:

noon to 4:00 pm – Geekfest inside Main Library, then head to the Library park on the corner of Main and Mill, just outside the Coffee Pot Cafe for

4:00 pm to 9:00 pm – Live Music, Crafty Mart, Yoga, Make & Take Activities
9:00 pm to 10:30 pm – Free Akron Outdoor Movie: “Pee-Wee’s Big Adventure”


The Call for Makers for the Akron Mini Maker Faire is now LIVE! Click on the button on the right, and fill our your application right now.

All applicants should get a confirmation that the application has been received. If you don’t get that after you click “Submit,” let us know at makerfaire@akronlibrary.org or call 330-643-9075.

Our Call for Makers is open through August 22. Everyone who submits will receive notice of acceptance by September 1.

Any questions?  There’s a short FAQs under the purple MAKERS tab above, or use the contact info above to get in touch with one of the Akron Mini Maker Fare Makers.

Repurposing the Peanut

3382609035_73de0bdaf1_oExciting news came out this year on a pesky environmental problem – packing peanuts.  We’ve all dealt with them; they are an inevitable part of many of the packages we receive daily.  What do we do with them?  As they are a polystyrene product, many recyclers will not accept them, take multiple generations to decompose, and contain chemicals believed to be carcinogenic.  While there are biodegradable packing peanuts being produced these days, these, too, may contain potentially hazardous chemicals.

According to this March 23th, 2015 article from The Smithsonian. com,  a team of chemical engineers at Purdue University have developed a way of “reusing packing peanuts for the manufacture of carbon anodes, a component of rechargeable batteries that outperform competitive batteries in the market.”  To learn more about this, check the link above.

Electric_batteriesThis is just one example of being part of a Maker culture.  Perhaps you like to tinker and repurpose items in an interesting way.  Join us on Saturday, September 19th, 2015 from 12-4 PM at Main Library for our Mini Maker Faire.  Our Call for Makers begins July 10th and runs through August 22, if you have a display, an idea, or a process you can share with us at our Mini Maker Faire.  Take a look at this page for further information and save the dates!

Stories of Tinkerpreneurs

indexWhat is a tinkerpreneur, you might justifiably ask?  Well, if you take a look at Michelle Malkin’s new book, Who Built That: Awe-inspiring Stories of American Tinkerpreneurs, you will begin to understand.  Malkin chose a number of little-known innovators who turned their ideas into commercial success and made such items as toilet paper, window glass, razor blades, and air conditioners items we take for granted.

In addition to being a columnist and news-woman, Malkin is a tinkerer.  The only problem with this is the failure rate of her inventions is fairly high.  She lists the following “contrivances gone wrong:”

  • a modified grill that exploded and nearly burned her eyebrows off,
  • a soda-bottle submarine that sank like concrete, and
  • a supply of marshmallow shooters clogged with sticky ammunition. (p.2)

light-cone-314071_640She takes such success stories as that of Tony Maglica – the inventor of the Maglite flashlight – and relates the roots of the person in a brief biography and shows what invention and good marketing can do to raise one from humble beginnings to a household name.  Maglica says “As long as I’m alive, I will never give up.”

Other successes she covers are Willis Carrier and Irvine Lyle.  One of those names is still heard today connected to the product they pioneered: the air conditioner.  Eventually, their product was sold to other businesses that prospered because of this invention: The American Chicle Company – maker of Chiclets, Whitman’s – the much loved chocolate company, and King Gillette’s razor empire – who solved a rust problem at the razor plant through conditioning the air.

razor-blade-220323_640Speaking of King Camp Gillette, Malkin also relates his rise to success with the story of the man whose name we all recognize as the inventor of the disposable blade and safety razor.  The biographies and histories of Westinghouse and Tesla, as well as others,can be found here.

If you like to tinker, and are motivated to take your inventions to market, you will find this book inspiring. (Conversely, Malkin takes her comments into the political arena, which may be off-putting.)

Pictures furnished by pixabay.com

Websites for Maker Inspiration

Looking for a new project? Instructables is a great place to start, or continue.  But, maybe you are looking for something new.  Here are a few websites we’ve been looking at lately.  (Like any website, we like them, but aren’t making any promises about how accurate the individual projects might be.)

10478526_10152514201780119_9174203587794373265_nwww.budget101.com promotes itself as a site for all things frugal living, and that means lots of DIY.  We are particularly fond of this garden swing/firepit structure from  from budget101’s Facebook page.


We think Google Cardboard is a pretty fun project.  Download the template to make the viewer from cardboard (yes, that’s why it’s called Google Cardboard), download some apps to you smartphone, insert phone into viewer, and, Voila! your own virtual reality viewer. You can develop your own apps, too.

And don’t forget the Blue Ribbon Projects from previous Maker Faires. We know this list needs an update. It still provides some great ideas for your summer Making.

These would all make great Akron Mini Maker Faire projects.  Check out our Makers tab above for information on how you can be a Maker.

The Potato Project

Anyone who gardens is likely to agree there is nothing like a freshly dug potato from your own backyard.  We’ve been growing potatoes in our Akron garden for years, and believe us when we say they are delish!

But this year, we somehow bought too many seed potatoes for our backyard plot. What to do, what to do? We’ve heard of potatoes being grown in plants, pots, and even large trash bags, but had never tried it. Let’s give it a try, we thought.  But what sort of container would we use?

As luck would have it, a weekend garage clean-out turned up a 30-gallon trash container which was being used not for trash, but old towels.  Hmmmm, we thought.  This would make a dandy container for …  potatoes?

And so, the Potato Project was born. Follow along as we experiment with too many seed potatoes, a trash can looking for a reason to live, and some spud-lovin’ Makers to grow our own container potatoes.

Here’s what we’ve done so far:

We took our handy hole saw …

... and made some holes in the bottom of the trash can.

… and made some holes in the bottom of the trash can.

We made some holes in the sides, too.

We made some holes in the sides, too.

Then, we put about 2 inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage.

Then, we put about 2 inches of gravel in the bottom for drainage.

Next, we filled the trash can about 1/3 full of compost and potting soil.

Next, we filled the trash can about 1/3 full of compost and potting soil.

WE dropped in 4 seed potatoes, and pushed them down into the compost/soil.

WE dropped in 4 seed potatoes, and pushed them down into the compost/soil,

watered it really well,

watered it really well,

and set it in a sunny corner of the garden.

and set it in a sunny corner of the garden. 


What is a “Maker Faire?”

As they tell us on the original Maker Faire website:

photo (1)“We call it the Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth. Maker Faire is part science fair, part county fair, and part something entirely new! As a celebration of the Maker Movement, it’s a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity, and resourcefulness. Faire gathers together tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, food artisans, hobbyists, 20150530_152830engineers, science clubs, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors. Makers come to show their creations and share their learnings. Attendees flock to Maker Faire to glimpse the future and find the 20150330_174831inspiration to become Makers themselves.”

Don’t miss out on the Akron Mini Maker Faire!


Cleveland Mini Maker Faire June 6

For everyone who can’t wait all the way until September to go the a local Mini Maker Faire in Akron, strap on your walking shoes and head on up to Cleveland CMMFfor the Cleveland Mini Maker Faire on June 6 at the Cleveland Public Library.

Last year, the Cleveland Mini Maker Faire had over 100 (!) Makers.  We can’t wait to join the fun.

You might still be able to get in as a Maker.  Fill out the Call for Makers on their website, and then email Emily Applebaum at Ingenuity Cleveland emily@ingenuitycleveland.org to let her know you’ve applied.

See you there!


Canadian Sets Hoverboard Record

Lots of you have probably heard about the Guinness World Record for a hoverboard flight, but we think its cool enough to share one more time.

CNET reports Canadian inventor Catalin Alexandru Duru has designed and built a hoverboard which he flew for over 900 feet. You can catch the full report here.

We gotta ask: Catalin Alexandru Duru, do you want to be a Maker?