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((Fighting with Element 14   ))




The think|haus entry into the Great Global Hackerspace Challenge sponsored by Element14 is finished. Mostly.

think|tubes are an educational tool for use in a K-12 school setting.  They function as a multimeter for the real world. Learning concepts  such as mechanical advantage is much easier if students can see and  measure the effects of gears, levers, pulleys, etc. Other concepts are  difficult because processes occur over time, and are not easily  observable. Data logging allows long term observation, making time  elapsed changes visible and measurable.

Our concept for think|tubes was to make an expandable, modular system  which allows the measurement and recording of various physical  phenomena. We’ve built some sample exercises, such as a device to  measure how hard someone can punch. This fun activity engages students,  while teaching concepts of levers, acceleration, and force. Other  sensors, such as light, temperature, barometric pressure, etc. are  easily added to the think|tubes, allowing for customized usage. Any  lesson plan that would benefit from experimentation and measurement can  use think|tubes.

Beyond measurement in the classroom, however, think|tubes can be used  throughout the school. An applause meter at a school talent show, a  game show buzzer system for fun quizzes, or a timing system for track  and field – all of these uses are easy to add to think|tubes due to its  modular design, standard Arduino hardware, and the bus which allows  communications between modules.

One of the great strengths of the think|tubes system is its  flexibility. It can be used by anyone – no technical knowledge is  required. The various measurement tasks are menu driven, and can be  operated by staff or students at all levels without any specialized  training. However, for those more technically inclined, the system has  limitless possibilities. Additional sensors can be added, new code can  be written to accommodate almost anything educators and their students  can dream up.

think|tubes make learning tangible. They provide a hands on way to  interact with the physical world. Think it, do it, measure it, learn it.  With think|tubes.

Project Details on the think|haus wiki and videos on the think|haus vimeo site.

Think Haus

GGHC2011 - Update #3

Posted by Think Haus Apr 25, 2011

Off the rails...


Sorry folks, things got a little bit out of hand there.


We're back, we've got work underway and it's going to be alright.


Watch the video and you'll better understand.


It's been a serious week of work at think|haus on the Challenge and a ton of other stuff.


Here's an update video for you all.



think|haus GGHC2011 - Week Two Status Video from Think Haus on Vimeo.

Yes, it's 35 minutes long.


But it's totally worth watching --- a pencast of the think|haus response to the GGHC.




think|haus GGHC Pencast from Think Haus on Vimeo.

In this blog post by Zoe Branigan-Pipe (@zbpipe) you'll see what happens when a real school teacher is read into the think|haus GGHC2011 plan.


I toured the Hackerspace from the perspective of a teacher, as I often  do. In education, we talk about problem solving. We talk about having  our students “think critically”. We advocate and implement problem based  learning and inquiry driven lessons. This hackerspace encompasses all  of these things – in real life.  As I toured the space and talked with  James and the other project members I was fascinated with the set up of  the room. Every area of the space was created to promote design,  creation collaboration, discussion, brainstorming and problem solving.  How about that.There was a massive island in the middle of the table was  covered in tools, designs, and notes.  On the other end of the room was  another large table  looking onto the interactive whiteboard (they made  themselves) used as another space for group projects, conversations,  and a place to create. Eventually, I was guided to the “think” area of  the room containing a few comfortable couches and again, onlooking  another giant idea wall. As the folks from the Thinkhaus described their  project, my eyes kept wondering. QR codes were pasted on the cupboards  with each code eventually leading to a description of the cupboards  contents, or instructions for a tool. Recycled materials, electronics,  computers, cords and tools in organized in every nook and cranny of the  room.



There's a whole lot of hints about what we're planning on building... look for the detailed announcement of "THE PLAN" shortly.

Think Haus

Introductory Video

Posted by Think Haus Mar 27, 2011

As simple as it is to say...  Here we are.



More soon - expect a video update around Wednesday or Thursday.

Think Haus

Challenge Accepted!

Posted by Think Haus Mar 20, 2011

We've been named as a participant in element14's Great Global Hackerspace Challenge!


Here's our request to participate...


Our hackerspace -- think|haus -- was founded in 2009 in the Canadian "rust belt" city of Hamilton, Ontario. With the move to our second space, we have refocused our space and our efforts on positive community building and working collaboratively as a group.


Some of our recent efforts towards this include:

  • providing support and facilities for the Hamilton Open Data movement -- an attempt to get municipal level data into the hands of the citizens in a useful way.
  • regularly scheduled "open to the public" training sessions on a wide variety of topics -- from basic soldering and sewing through to micro-controllers and computer security.
  • working with a local Girl Guide unit (similar to a US Girl Scout troop) to simultaneously teach computers, engineering and sewing through the development of the BlinkyHat project -- a camp hat with LEDs, ATtiny85v, batteries and conductive thread assembled by the 9-12 year old girls.
  • active participation in the Toronto mini-MakerFaire (May 6th) with a (currently secret) awesome group project.
  • being one of the founders of the SoOnCon maker/hacker conference ( and the lead space for Canada's first European-style HackerCamp -- SoOnCamp2012 -- to be held in July 2012 just outside of Hamilton.



We are trying hard to be an example of positive interactions between the wider community and the maker/hacker movement - and we are eager to commit to being one of the competing hackerspaces.


You can find out more about us at our website: and look forward to our next post where we announce and introduce the members of the team taking on the challenge.