Reston, VA

Despite its temporary closure, a Reston-based makerspace challenged volunteers to supply hospitals and medical staff with lifesaving personal protective equipment.

Nova Labs, a local volunteer-based non-profit, used to serve as a place of ideation for kids and creative community members but decided to switch focus after health concerns from COVID19 shutdown non-essential businesses and gathering places in Virginia. Lab volunteers are now creating medical masks, plastic face shields and other essential equipment to keep people healthy, according to Margie Foster, one of the project’s coordinators.

Foster said she became involved after another member, Paul Chase, began tinkering with designs for face masks in his basement.

“I jumped in and was like ‘let’s make sure someone needs it, we are informed by the field and make sure we have places to donate it before we go all in,'” Foster said.

To keep volunteers safe and obey social distancing rules, Nova Labs sent 3D printers home with “altruistic” members who knew how to use them, so they can create the plastic pieces for face shields now required by nurses and doctors, Foster said.

Nova Labs isn’t the sole coordinator of this project though, Foster said. Micro Center in Fairfax and its manager Jeff Katz donated 50-kilogram spools of the colorful plastic filament to the cause, which would typically retail over $1,000.

Other volunteers include Eric Offerman from LaserThing.com and Brad Hess at makersmiths.org who have both been laser cutting plastic shields and donating materials as well.

To help with the assembly of the products, Nova Labs recruited local families who are looking for things to do now that schools are closed and some are off work.

Already, the group’s volunteers have managed to send over 550 face shields to Howard University Hospital and other area medical centers, according to Nova Labs Facebook page. In the coming weeks, Foster added that the team has the capability to branch out to adjust to new and unique needs.

In the early stages, some hospitals that originally agreed to use the personal protective equipment made by Nova Labs had to call the program coordinators back since their policies kept changing with uncertain guidelines regarding the ability to accept homemade equipment.

“A lot of the hospital policies are still trying to come up to speed with what is happening,” she said. “They are trying to change on the fly too.”

Going forward, Foster said she is concerned about what will happen as competition for the plastic face mask material intensifies. Already, producers of the shield material are backlogged with orders and prices keep rising due to high demand, according to Foster.

“We are in competition with like Pepsi,” she said. “They use the same material for their bottles.”

Still, team members associated with Nova Lab are dedicated to the cause, according to Foster.

“The bulk of this project has been funded out of pocket by the makers,” she said.

Those interested in helping the cause can donate online.

Photo via Nova Labs/Facebook

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An upcoming event in Reston will offer patrons a chance to purchase out-of-the-box holiday gifts.

Artisans from Nova Labs, Inc. will display gifts made from 3d printers and laser cutters at a maker market and artisan fair this weekend.

Nova Labs, Inc. (1916 Isaac Newtown Square West), a nonprofit organization that offers artisans tools and equipment to create items, will display work like glassware, personalized items, vases, cards, and jewelry at the fair, which is set for Saturday, Dec. 7 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The fair will also include blacksmithing demonstrations, tours, a magic sandbox and virtual reality rooms.

The event is free and open to all.

Photo via Unsplash

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Whether you’re celebrating with friends or significant others, Reston Now has rounded up some Valentine’s Day events this week that don’t involve dinner plans.

With all of the chocolate and candy temptations, why not focus on self-care with physical activity set to love songs and break-up hits?

New Trail Cycling, which opened in December at Lake Anne Plaza, will have themed rides all about love.

The first one titled “Love vs. Break-Up Hits” is scheduled for the classes at 5:30 a.m. and 9:30 a.m. on Valentine’s Day (Feb. 14). On Saturday (Feb. 16), get ready for the “Battle of the Exes” at 11 a.m.

  • Feb. 12 and 13 Valentine’s Day gift with purchase — Spend $100 at a Reston Town Center retailer or restaurant on Feb. 12 or 13 and receive a bouquet of flowers by bringing your receipt(s) to the flower cart located in front of the ice rink on Market Street.
  • Feb. 14 Craf-Tea Thursday — Head to the Elden Streat Tea Shop to learn from Tess Rollins how to make two Valentine’s/Palentine’s Day paper cards while enjoying themed snacks and a pot of tea from 10-11 a.m.
  • Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day Bingo — From 10:30 a.m. to noon, come to the Tall Oaks Assisted Living to play bingo.
  • Feb. 14 Annual Valentine’s Day Horse Carriage Rides — The annual event at Reston Town Center takes place from 4-9 p.m. The proceeds will benefit Relay for Life. Rides cost $5 per person and kids under age 5 ride for free.
  • Feb. 14 Valentine’s Day Painting — For $50 per person, you can enjoy painting and wine for two at Pinot’s Palette in Herndon from 7-9:30 p.m.
  • Feb. 15 Valentine’s Gala — Food, dancing and more can be expected at Let’s Stay Together first annual Valentine’s Gala. The semi-formal gala will take place from 7-10 p.m. at the Embassy Suites on Woodland Park Road. Tickets start at $125.
  • Feb. 17 Valentine’s Makesperience — Enjoy a couple’s dinner at 5:30 p.m. and sign up for a makers class at Nova Labs. Classes include jewelry-making, woodworking, t-shirt making, laser cutting and creating tea lights.
  • Feb. 17 Galentine’s Day Party — Scrawl Books plans to host a post-Valentine’s “Galentine’s Party” to benefit Cornerstones and the Laurel Learning Program. Authors Orly Konig and Erika Marks will discuss books, writing and life while drinks and hors-d’oeuvres are served.
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The kickoff celebration for the 2019 NoVa Maker Faire will take place next week in Reston, even though the event itself is set to take place elsewhere.

The annual event — now in its sixth year — gathers engineers, artists, scientists, crafters and more to show off their hobbies, experiments and projects.

The kickoff event will be at the Nova Labs “makerspace” at 1916 Isaac Newton Square next Wednesday (Jan. 23) from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. Participants can watch presentations, get information about the Maker Faire and eat food.

The Maker Faire, which used to be held at South Lakes High School, found its new home at George Mason University in 2017.

The main event is slated to take place on June 2.

Photo via Maker Faire NoVa/Facebook

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(Updated 3 p.m.) Gabe Aparicio, a 9-year-old Reston student, has been working on a project that involved 3D printing for space technology and had some questions. So who better to ask than a board of NASA experts?

A photo of Aparicio asking a question at a Nov. 29 meeting regarding commercial space traffic was NASA’s featured “Photo of the Day”.

“It was a really great opportunity to hear about the technology he only normally sees in movies,” said Sam Aparicio, Gabe’s father.  “It was quite a treat.”

Aparicio is a member of the “BrainStorm Troopers”, a team of students at the Nova Lab Robotics in Reston. The labs are a maker space in Isaac Newton Square that, among other activities, runs programs that help children learn about science and technology.

Laura Carey, one of the co-coaches for the team, said the name was chosen by the avid Star Wars fans in the group.

The BrainStorm Troopers are one of the Nova Lab Robotics teams working in the FIRST Lego League, a challenge for students ages 9-11 built around designing robotics with legos to combat a certain challenge. This year, BrainStorm Troopers’ challenge was called Into Orbit, tasking students with identifying challenges humans would face in deep space exploration and work on devising a solution.

“They use the Legos to build robots,” said Marybeth Haneline, President of Nova Labs. “For their research question they looked at 3D printing in space, so [Gabe] asked NASA about 3D printing.”

Haneline said students at Nova Labs Robotics were some of several teams throughout the region invited to NASA’s discussion of delivery of commercial payloads to the moon’s surface.

“They have been working all season long to understand what is the role of 3D printing in space exploration,” said Sam Aparicio. “It was really cool for him and his teammates to get validation that this is an area of great interest for NASA engineers. That was one of the highlights of the event.”

Sam Aparicio said Gabe’s involvement with BrainTroopers has not only been fun for a child who loves building with Legos but has also helped shape skills outside of science and technology.

“I’ve been enjoying seeing how this can translate into real-world problem solving,” said Sam Aparicio. “I think one of the big things, not just my son but all of the kids, is that they love learning about teamwork. In the school setting, harder for all of the kids to work on one problem… It’s just been fun for them to bond with other kids in trying to solve a big problem.”

Haneline said the Nova Labs Robotics teams are sponsored, in part, by donor corporations like BTI360 and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics.

Haneline noted that Nova Labs Robotics is currently in a dedicated space in Isaac Newton Square, which is soon to be redeveloped, so the group needs to find a new home by the first of the next year.

“We’re looking for a corporate donor who might be willing to donate some space,” said Haneline.

Photo via NASA/Bill Ingalls

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GreenBay at NoVa Maker Labs

Nova Labs, the Reston-based maker space, is holding an open house for its new “low-impact workspace.”

Nova Labs is opening GreenBay, a section of the shop that will house green, low-impact tools and a stand-up classroom for hands-on shop classes.

The free open house is Monday, Oct. 12 (Columbus Day holiday) from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

There will be food and beverages, open house hours, shop tours, woodworking demonstrations, and more. Tools with a green safety rating are available to anyone who completes the New Member Orientation class, which is open to all.

Nova Labs is a membership-based work space with a 10,500-square-foot facility at 1916 Isaac Newton Square. The space has classrooms, workspace, incubator offices and a shop that includes both common tools and advanced fabrication equipment.

Members enjoy 24-7 access and help teach classes, maintain equipment, and promote making in the community.  Nova Labs offers classes in programming and engineering fundamentals; building and using devices such as 3D printers, drones, laser cutters, and robots; and fundamental engineering and prototyping skills such as wood working and carbon fiber mold making.

They also sponsor the NoVa Mini Maker Faire held in Reston in the spring.

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NoVa Mini Maker Faire/Credit Frank SogandaresYoung artists, inventors and other innovators will show what they can do at this weekend’s NoVa Mini Maker Faire. 

More than 100 presenters will be at the event, organized by Reston’s Nova Labs, Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. at South Lakes High School and Langston Hughes Middle School.

Here is what you need to know:

Makers will share their knowledge through hands-on projects for adults and kids on topics from blacksmithing and primitive skills to 3D printing, drones and robots to building customized equipment for special needs children to creative art-making.

Makers will be grouped in neighborhoods by their topic. Neighborhoods include: Young Makers, Creativity Lane, Drone Zone, Robotics, 3D Printing Village, Science Lab, Flight Path, Sustainability Village, and more.

A complete list of makers can be found on the event’s website.

There will also be five hands-on activities: Nerdy Derby; Catapults and Ballistas; KEVA Planks;  GEMS Take Apart Zone; and Demo-Vation with UpCycle Creative Reuse Center.

Nerdy Derby is a no-rules miniature car building and racing competition. In the Catapults and Ballistas, you can explore trajectory, torsion, torque, force, and materials using safe tools. KEVA Planks are small building blocks to use to build and explore; In the GEMS Take Apart Zone, you can disassemble machines to explore how things work. Demo-Vation with UpCycle Creative Reuse Center you can create something new out of discarded elements.

There will be eight speakers including: Dr. Lance Bush, CEO of The Challenger Center for Space Science Education; Jennifer Gluck who creates DIY adaptive equipment for special needs children; Vicky Somma, winner 2014 White House 3D Printed Design Challenge; and Chris Vo, Chief Scientist at Sentien Robotics and President of DC Area Drone User Group. 

The Faire has a mobile website with a map, schedule, listing of makers, speaker schedule and other information.

Food will be available for sale on site by area food trucks. Among them: Doug the Food Dude, Fava Pot, Hardy BBQ, Mama’s Donut Bites and Tasty Kabob.

Advance tickets are available online. Tickets are $15 for adults and $5 for children through March 14, 2015. Tickets at the door are $20 for adults and $8 for children. 

Photo of 2014 Mini Maker Faire/Credit: Frank Sogandares

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Students From Thomas Jefferson HS will show off rocketry skills at Mini Maker Faire/Credit: Mini Maker Faire

Hundreds of inventors, students, crafters and people who want to learn about them are expected at South Lakes High School and Langston Hughes Middle School Sunday for the inaugural Nova Mini Maker Faire.

The Mini Maker Faire is the idea of Nova Labs, a non-profit Maker Space in Reston. Nova Labs has a regular mission to provide the community a workshop where people can learn, teach, and collaborate on creative and technical works, and to promote the usefulness of competence in the technical arts, says Nova Labs president Brian Jacoby.

Nova Labs regularly hosts learning sessions on robotics, electronics, 3D printing, programming, woodworking, yarn & fabric arts and many other maker topics.  Different memberships level offer opportunities to learn from others and used the lab’s space, tools and equipment.

The Mini Maker Faire expands on that mission.

“All kids — and adults — need more encouragement to follow their curiosity and be innovative problem solvers,” Jacoby said in a press release. “The Mini Maker Faire celebrates working with raw materials, engaging kids’ minds, and helping them to become critical thinkers.”

Here is what you need to know:

* The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

* Tickets are $8 for children and $20 for adults.

* There will be more than 99 booths with all sorts of hands-on activities. Among them:

  • Aluminum Aerogami (a combination of origami and model airplane building from aluminum cans)
  • 3D scanning and printing of you
  • Musical instrument maker
  • Snoopy Robot
  • Solar- powered Car
  • Light-up sewing
  • Hand-spinning yarn
  • Kinetic, wearable, and electronic art
  • Science experiments you can do at home by Gravity is Optional
  • Spy gadgets by the International Spy Museum

Visit the Mini Maker Faire website for a full list of makers.

* NOTE: There will be no parking at the schools. Shuttle buses will run from the Herndon Monroe Park and Ride.

More information can be found on this map of the schools or on the Mini Maker Faire website.

Photo: Students from Thomas Jefferson High School for Science and Technology will have a rocketry exhibit where others can try out stomp rockets at the Nova Mini Maker Faire Saturday. Credit: Nova Mini Maker Faire.

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