Tag Archives: Maker Faire

2011 was a Great Year for Harris Educational

2011 was a fairly trying year for the world as a whole with man-made problems of economic turmoil and political strife, as well as natural disasters and bad weather. But in spite of the environment Harris Educational had a wonderful year in 2011. I’m attributing this to hard work and dumb luck on our part but I know the biggest reason for our success was due to our readers, our fans, our customers, the good folks at ShopBot, Make Magazine, and all the wonderful resellers of our Reinventing Science kits.

Our year started out with an upgrade to our science kit production capabilities in the form of a new CNC Router. Our goal was to automate the production of some of the parts of our Reinventing Science kits and also to allow for new product development of parts that would not be easy to achieve using other more traditional methods. To learn how to use the new router my first project was to build a custom computer case and a new computer that we could use to edit and produce more video. The Ingenematic Visitron was born and I’m proud to say that the story was picked up by Hack-a-day sending quite a few visitors to our blog and making us a few new fans.

2011 saw my first trip to Maker Faire in California. In May my nephew Brian and I traveled to California to exhibit the Reinventing Science kits to throngs of people at the Maker Shed inside Maker Faire. We met a lot of interesting people, made some new friends, and caught the attention of Popular Mechanics who mentioned Harris Educational and the Reinventing Edison kit by name as one of the reasons that the Maker Shed was one of the top ten coolest things to do at Maker Faire! (TONS of photos from Maker Faire are on our fan page here, here, here, and don’t forget the video we posted “The Motion of Maker Faire” below)

One of the big events at Maker Faire in California was the Hackerspace Challenge, and I met a lot of interesting people from different maker spaces from around the country. On my flight back to North Carolina I kept thinking how great it would be to have such a place here in my home town of Burlington. I started brainstorming for ways to make this happen by expanding Harris Educational (a project I’m still working on)

In June my nephew Brian helped me again and we exhibited Harris Educational and the Reinventing Science kits at Maker Faire NC in Raleigh. (Tons of Photographs Here, Here, and Here) Maker Faire NC was in its second year and it was great to meet and become involved with all of the folks responsible for making this faire a reality. Two other great things came out of this mini maker faire. Thanks to a sign in our booth asking Alamance County people to say hey to us I met a couple of folks who have become founding members of our new Alamance Makers Guild. The second thing to come out of MFNC is our new relationship with ShopBot tools of Durham NC. Harris Educational is now working with ShopBot to create STEM based curriculum materials around Digital Fabrication technologies such as their CNC Routers. The second half of our year has seen quite a bit of development on this project, not to mention the addition of a ShopBot desktop CNC Router to our list of tools.

In July and August more people learned about Harris Educational thanks to some local news stories. The first was a full page article written about us in the Burlington Newspaper, “The Times News.” This story then got the attention of WGHP Fox 8 news out of Greensboro NC who interviewed me for the evening news segment “Made in NC” You can see the video above.

In August I set up a “Meeting of the NC Makers” including the folks from ShopBot Tools, Roy Underhill from PBS’s Longest Running DIY Show “The Woodwright’s Shop”, the folks from Maker Faire NC, and some others for a fun day of woodworking in high tech and in historical contexts. In the morning Roy Underhill visited ShopBot tools to see CNC Routers in action, and after a great lunch at Ted Hall’s house in Durham, everyone visited Roy Underhill’s Woodworking School in Pittsboro NC. While there I shot put together the following videos.

With support from the folks I met at Maker Faire NC I’ve officially launched “The Alamance Makers Guild” through a meetup.com group, a fan page on facebook, and a twitter feed. We’re now holding regular monthly meetings and members have shared their talents and their creations including some really cool wood turnings, steam punk art pieces, and even a home made tesla coil! Much more with the Alamance Makers guild in 2012.

This year also saw our first international sale of Reinventing Science kits with the addition of a new reseller in the Republic of Korea.  The year also saw the addition of Pasco Scientific as a dealer, and Educational Innovations adding our Reinventing Morse kit.  We’ve also laid some groundwork for the setup of some more new resellers for 2012. Sales for the kits continue to increase, a great accomplishment for such a flat economy.

The year finished out with some very positive recognition of our Reinventing Science kits! The Surprising Science blog at the Smithsonian picked our Reinventing Edison: Build your own Light Bulb science kit as one of the top 10 best gifts for Science lovers. We were also highly honored to have been picked by Make Magazine as one of 12 Science Kits reviewed in their “Ultimate Kit Guide” special edition. We received a 5 out of 5 for the quality of our instructions and our materials! I was also very happy to read all of the comments about the kit when they gave one away at their blog.

2011 was a great year for Harris Educational and I’m sure 2012 will bring all new challenges and opportunities.  Thanks to everyone who supports us!

 

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Harris Educational and Reinventing Science Kits in the News!

Thanks to my involvement with Maker Faire, my efforts in Social Media, and some other projects I am starting to get a little attention from the local news media for Harris Educational and the Reinventing Science kits.

On July 10th I was featured in a full page article in the “Accent” section of the Sunday edition of “The Times News” here in Burlington NC. The article “A Science Hobby becomes a career” by reporter Molly McGowan tells some of the story behind how and why I started Harris Educational and how I make the Reinventing Science kits here in Burlington (proudly hand made in the USA!). The article is online and can be found at the Times News website HERE.

That article lead to an interview with Brad Jones of WGHP Fox 8 News (of Greensboro NC) for their “Made in NC” segment. “Made in NC” features new, innovative, and interesting companies in North Carolina that make products here in NC. It was an honor to be included in this segment and I’m glad to be able to get the word out about what I’m doing. I’m very happy at how the interview turned out and feel it was a good mix of my philosophy behind Reinventing Science kits, a look at the kits themselves in action, and some good footage of me making parts for the kits. They even managed to get some focus for my new ShopBot Desktop CNC router.

The interview aired on the evening news on August 26th. I’ve uploaded my off-air recording of the interview to YouTube (see above) but a higher quality version can be found at the Fox 8 “Made in NC” site HERE (along with links to all of the other interesting companies and products they’ve featured).

They say everyone gets fifteen minutes of fame. By my calculations I’ve now used up about three of mine. I wonder where my adventures with Harris Educational, Maker Faire, ShopBot, and my other projects will lead me next? Its always great to make more people aware of the kits and help improve sales a little, but really I’ll be happiest if these stories (and hopefully future ones) lead to more fans for the community I’ve been developing on Facebook on the Harris Educational fan page.

If you are interested you can learn more about the Reinventing Science kits check out the Science Kits tab here on this blog or visit my website:
http://www.harris-educational.com/reinventing-science/index.html

If you are interested in purchasing a Reinventing Science kit please visit:
http://www.harris-educational.com/reinventing-science/purchase.html