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Suncoast Science Center offers inventive workspace

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  • | 11:00 p.m. January 21, 2015
A technology and electronics lab at the Suncoast Science Center will provide a space for members to build things such as a personal computer.  Photos by Amanda Morales
A technology and electronics lab at the Suncoast Science Center will provide a space for members to build things such as a personal computer. Photos by Amanda Morales
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Broken bulbs on a string of Christmas lights are reason enough for some to toss away the entire set. But, if you’re like Scott James, they inspire a project.

When James ordered a set of GE Color Effects lights and they weren’t working, he sent away for a replacement and was told to throw away the broken set. But he saw the opportunity as a challenge to tinker with the lights and possibly get them to function. He took the lights apart and researched and tinkered until he was able to get the lights to work. They not only function but now flash in a new pattern he created.

The desire to solve and fix technical problems runs deep with James who is a software developer. He considers himself an inventor.

“Personally, I've been taking broken things apart since I was a kid,” James said. “What was originally an interest in how things work and fixing things grew into a sprit of how I can make things work better or more fun.”

James has considered relocating to what he calls a more “high-tech city” to be surrounded by people with similar interests. Few places in Sarasota offer access to tools, supplies and technology that some members of the “Makers Movement,” such as James, require for personal projects. A Maker can be a person of any skill level who is interested in manufacturing and inventing.

And the Maker community is one in which Dr. Fritz and Ping Faulhaber of the Faulhaber Foundation have taken a special interest.

Before it closed its doors in September 2013, G.WIZ was the home of a fabrication facility, the Faulhaber Fab Lab, that offered resources to inventors in the community. Once G.WIZ closed, the Faulhabers purchased back much of the Fab Lab equipment, and last April they established the nonprofit Suncoast Science Center.

Through the Faulhaber Fab Lab at the Suncoast Science Center, inventors such as James, students and interested members of the community can have access to tools that include a 3-D printer, laser cutter and a technology and electronics lab. The Suncoast Science Center will also be equipped with a lending library with lesson kits for teachers to borrow and use in their classrooms. The lab will operate like a self-service gym with monthly membership fees to use the space and equipment.

Suncoast Science Center COO Christine Meeker Lange said the community will also benefit from the space in terms of workshops, lectures and immersive programs including computer coding for children.

“The Faulhabers were excited about helping the community,” Lange said. “The idea is to get kids and adults back into the creativity of building something.”

An open house for members of the community to explore the Suncoast Science Center will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, at the center, 4452 S. Beneva Road.


Suncoast Science Center Open House

Explore the new Suncoast Science Center and Faulhaber Fab Lab at an open house of the facilities and discover resources available to the community. A variety of hands-on activities will be available for children.

When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday

Where: Suncoast Science Center, 4452 S. Beneva Road

Cost: Admission is free.

Info: Call 228-9889.



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