Sylvia Todd Maker Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show


Steven: Have you two seen openmaterials.org? I bet you would like it. There’s some cool stuff on there. It’s has stuff like open-source superglue or some putty made out of some sort of silicone. There are some cool projects on there. It is an interesting  site to learn about materials.

James: I have it up on the second monitor here. You’ve completely distracted her now.

Sylvia: That’s so cool! Green-tea leather?

James: Oh dear. What have I done? End of interview. We’re done!

Steven: I’m sorry.

Sylvia: It’s fine.

Steven: So that’s  a good example  of projects other people are working on that are pretty cool. Can you think of anything that you’ve seen other people are working on that excites you or you’d like to see more about?

Sylvia: Hmmm.

James: What did we see at Maker Faire?

Sylvia: A lot. There was so much. The titles escape me. Oh yeah, Google Glass! Oh and Jeri Ellsworth’s 3D gaming glasses. She had these  glasses that you would put on, and one of the demonstrations  is that there is this tower of blocks. And when you put the glasses on and it looks like you are knocking over the blocks. They look like they are right in front of you. It was so cool.

James: And it takes into account how far away you are from it, so you can simply have the glasses on and walk around  and see things in your environ- ment and move your head around. It’s totally groundbreaking.

Sylvia: There’s  a little zombie game that Jeri and her team made. You could see the maze and how the zombies were moving around you and how you were moving around everyone else.

James: It was actually a physical place and you could look around in it. It is a sort of augmented reality. It was actually projecting out into the world. When Jeri worked at Valve,9 we had her sneak us in there, and we walked around and saw Valve. It was really crazy fun.

Sylvia: It was crazy.

James:  She showed  it to us in its early stage. It was this crazy, top-secret, hush-hush stuff. Now that she and a couple  of other people have defected from Valve, I have a feeling maybe Valve thought it was the wrong direction for their company or something like that.

Steven: Those are good examples of other people building cool stuff. So what’s something that you really want to learn how to do? Maybe something you haven’t had time to do, but you want to learn in the near future?

Sylvia: I know: programming and welding.

Steven: Welding?

Sylvia: I haven’t done welding. One year at Maker Faire, my dad and his friend made a pedal car and did pedal car racing. I’ve done some virtual welding before. I actually haven’t done real welding. I do want to do it. I really want to learn it. See the Jeri Ellsworth interview (Chapter 15) for more on augmented reality glasses. Makers at Work

James: We would have had her do more welding. It’s just that—

Sylvia: We only had two weeks to do it.

James: No, no. The real problem was that we were welding galvanized pipe. You’re not supposed to weld that because it lets off these horrible fumes that give you cancer or something awful.

Steven: That stuff will make you nauseous pretty fast.

Sylvia: But programming also. I’ve done a little bit of programming and learned some of that, but I do want to make my own web site or make my own game. There’s  a lot of stuff I really like.

James: She’s completely  designed her game. I think there’s a napkin edition to it somewhere, because I said, “With this Raspberry Pi, you can program your own game.” And she said, “I know exactly what I’m going to do.”

Steven: Are you using Scratch10  for that or haven’t really decided yet? James: I think we’re thinking about JavaScript because it will run everywhere. Steven: You are probably aware of this, but the JavaScript  stuff on Khan Academy is amazing for learning.

James: The JavaScript stuff is neat. They worked out a way to make editing live so as you’re typing, you can see the how it affects the outcome of your program. We should do that later.

Sylvia: Oh, Khan Academy. My friend Julie does that on her own.

Steven:  It’s dangerous. You start playing and solving math problems, and then you get badges and points for it. Pretty soon, I’m so tired I can’t really think, but I’m solving trivial math problems like how to tell time, just for the points.

Sylvia: I’ve got some energy  points  and badges, but I haven’t been able to go on it that much.

Steven: I just have one more question. I still ask myself this question some- times: What do you want to be when you grow up? What do you want to do?

Sylvia: When I was younger, like when I was four or five, I wanted to be a chef, but now I really want to be an aerospace engineer or an astronaut. I get really excited about space camp.

James: After her trip to the White House, and probably after the ABC World News thing,11  somebody got her a full scholarship to Space Camp in Alabama. 10Interactive programming environment (http://scratch.mit.edu). 11http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/technology/2013/05/11-year-old-web-series- starinspiring-girls-in-the-name-of-science/

Sylvia: I’m so excited. I can’t stop thinking about that.

Steven: I talked to Eric Stackpole from OpenROV. He started  a CubeSat club and built satellites as a hobby. Then he got hired by NASA and worked  for NASA for a while.  Now he builds these open-source  ROVs and goes to places like Antarctica and drills holes in the ice and drives around in his underwater robot.

James: That is so awesome.

Steven: He’s really passionate about what he’s doing. Is it just the two of you working on the show?

James: The show is just done by me and Sylvia. We don’t really have anyone else helping her out.

Sylvia: Well, there’s mom. We do family things sometimes. When we’re doing our puppets, I sometimes get my sister to help or my brother. Sometimes when we’re doing crafty things, like sewing, my mom helps just to get it done.

James: The start-up I was working at in San Francisco  sold. They completely ran out of money. So my full-time job now is just being dad and some side jobs. Hopefully, something will come along. I’m thinking that maybe we should just start Sylvia Corp.

Sylvia: Sylvia Corp!

James: She’ll be CEO. I’ll be CTO.

Sylvia: What’s the difference?

James: So CEO is the chief executive  officer. You make the decisions. You’re the head of the group. And then CTO is chief technology  officer. I get to operate the cameras and do very fun stuff—like the web site, which I already do anyway.

Steven: The important thing is you’d still be his boss, Sylvia.

James: You’re the boss man.

Sylvia: Boss!

James: The only episode for Season 3 will be the Lilypad heartbeat pendant. The next episode is going to be Season 4, episode one, because the seasons are actually based off the Maker Faire. We’ve just been so completely busy running around. We haven’t been able to make any other episodes in that time. Plus, you might have noticed, we don’t actually post the production time post on the episode listing. You can see it on the video. But it’s not on the web site. Kind of a secret thing we did.

Steven: Well Sylvia, James, it was super awesome talking to the two of you. I can’t wait to see some Season 4 episodes.

Sylvia: Bye!