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Below The Surface

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

That's Brilliant! ECHO After Dark

You would have thought with an event showcasing inventions as we did on December 8 with That's Brilliant! at ECHO, you'd see nothing but white shirts with pen protectors and glasses. Instead we had floors full of animated people who looked like you and I who were actively engaged in conversation with our guests by demonstrating or letting you try really cool inventions that could be used to help ski or sled down the mountain, assist children with disabilities play video games, or create a new way to hang earrings. Our surveys showed that our guests were overwhelmingly pleased with this latest ECHO After Dark event where we showcased some of the many Vermont inventions that people have dreamed up. Folks didn’t want to stop chatting with the inventors! The theme tied in well with the end of the year where many people are either interested in what has happened in the inventions world over the past year or they were in the mood for shopping for unique gifts from brilliant inventors. Over 160 people enjoying Vermont cheeses and crackers, drinking beer or wine or crossing their fingers hoping to win raffle prizes from many of the inventors.

Vermonters as inventors is nothing new. For instance, did you know that the first American Patent was filed by a Vermonter? In July 31, 1790 Samuel Hopkins of Pittsford was issued a patent for an improvement “in the making of Pot ash and Pearl ash by a new Apparatus and Process.” The patent was signed by President George Washington, Secretary of State Thomas Jefferson and Attorney General Edmund Randolph. For our educational piece we listed ten of the top Vermont inventions (like this one) and asked folks to list, in graffiti-style with chalk, which invention they could not live without. Answers ranged from their computer to electricity, providing an interesting participatory project.

If you are interested in the tabling inventors and their email addresses, here they are. Scroll to the bottom of the page for information about two of our next ECHO After Dark events.

InventVermont: A non-profit organization with the mission to promote innovation, invention and creativity through educational programs and by providing a mechanism for sharing information among its members and associates.

Vermont Manufacturing Extension Center: A non-profit organization match making inventors with manufacturers, with a proven system that increases innovation speed 6X and decreases innovation risk 30 - 80%.

Hampton Direct: A consumer products company with a proven track record of getting your idea to market and launching the industry's most successful "As Seen On TV" products.

Vermont FabLab: The UVM FabLab facility brings together high-power computer aided design (CAD) tools and the means (hands-on access) by which to realize physical implementations.

Microprocessor Designs, Inc: A design and development company that has provided the hardware, firmware and software for a wide variety of clients and innovative projects such as the Segway Human Transporter, the iWalk BiOM Prosthetic Foot, and a prosthetic finger tip sensor node for DARPA.

I-Mark Tools: You don’t have to be an engineer to be an inventor, come see Kathy Dever’s innovative and patented self-marking tape measure, “Simply measure, push and mark”.

Make it Science: An "electrifying" experience with musical and acoustic science teaching aides, a must see for educators looking for ways to teach difficult science concepts through hands-on activities.

Geometric Bike: Would you like to run 30 MPH with no impact? If so, check out Steve Norman’s geometric bike. It’s so smooth; it’s like a StairMaster that goes…

QuantaSpec, LLC: Light detection of explosives, biological substances, and developing infrared spectroscopy as a new method for medical diagnosis of infections and breast cancer.

Starr Surf Skis: Just as Burton brought surfing to the mountains, fellow Vermonter Jason Starr has brought skiing to the surf. The new skis that are allowing skiers to take their skills to the ocean. It’s not just water skiing, it’s steep water skiing!

Creative Microsystems: From plasma-sphere light sculptures to lab-on-a-chip and other micro-scale inventions, come see some of the innovative solutions Bill Parker and his team have developed for the aerospace, telecommunications, biotechnology, and the medical device industries.

Alpine Wings: Detachable parafoil used in place of ski poles to reduce the weight on the legs, assist with steering or braking, improve stability, and generally adding to the fun and merriment of traveling down a mountain.

Hammerhead Sleds: Take the sport of sledding from the backyard to the biggest hills with patented steering systems, front polycarbonate and rear HDPE skis, state-of-the art materials, and precision engineering.

Safety Caps, Inc: The world’s only oversized, ventilated electrical outlet safety plug designed to eliminate suffocation while providing superior electrical shock protection and reducing drafts in your home.

Geometoy, Inc: Geometric toys including Reptangles. Reptangles are turtles that can snap together in a wide variety of geometric transformations -- flips, turns, slides, and more.

Lynx Fasteners: Silent thin-film fasteners with over six times the strength of Velcro® and 1/3 the thickness, water-proof zippers and other thin and silent clothing fasteners.

MicroStrain, Inc: SensorCloud™ manages big data from the internet of things - global networks of smart sensors embedded in machines, structures, and our environment.

Bronchobat: A breath controlled video game to help kids with cystic fibrosis stick to their treatment regimen and improve their breathing performance through challenging and entertaining exercise.

Diva Dangler: Just in time for holiday shopping, come check out the Diva Dangler, an amazing earring organizer perfect for all who have a tangled mess in their jewelry box.

For photos from THAT'S BRILLIANT! please go to our facebook album. I'd love to hear your thoughts about our ECHO After Dark events. Please share your comments with me below or email me directly.

Upcoming ECHO After Dark programs:

Thursday, January 12, 2012, 6:30 pm to 8:30 pm
Café Scientifique: Topic 23: The Next Frontier: Higher Education in Space!
Join us in conversation with Carl Brandon, Professor, Science and Aeronautical Engineering Technology, Vermont Technical College. With a grant from the Vermont Space Grant Consortium, a part of the NASA Space Grant program, a group of students from four Vermont colleges and universities, are making significant contributions to the development of the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics) workforce by developing a CubeSat, a new space technology. Come to ECHO's After Dark Cafe Scientifique program to join in the dialogue about this major cooperative endeavor! Suggested donation $5. Event for 21+ with cash bar and themed drinks opens at 6.30 p.m., discussion begins at 7 p.m.; free light hors d’oeuvres sponsored by VT Sigma Xi, Scientific Research Society.

Thursday, February 9, 2012
We are now accepting reservations for our ECHO After Dark event: FeBREWary. The Science of Beer. will be two events that evening. From 6-7 p.m. for members only there is a beer and cheese pairing with 5 beers and 5 cheeses for $40 led by judicators of beer/cheese tastings. This event is limited to 26 people. Your admission to this event also gets you into the second event from 7-9 p.m. entitled FeBREWary, the Science of beer. If you wish to attend this second event only you can pay $15 for members, $20 for non-members, which includes 5 beer tastings and a signature tasting glass plus a full evening program. To make reservations, please call 1-802-864-1848 x 7. For more information please go to ECHO After Dark.

Top right photo: John Cohn, Vermont FabLab
Left photo: guest riding Segway
Bottom left photo: Tom Mezzner, WPTZ NewsChannel Five, modeling Alpine Wings by inventor Lorenzo Blum

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