Category Archives: Science, Space, Technology

My Trip To Malmo, Sweden: The Students

Cool Minds

Last week after I finished speaking at the Öredev software developer conference in Malmo, Sweden, I had the opportunity to give a talk to students at the Cool Minds Play and Knowledge Center.

Cool Minds holds organized activities for school aged children after school and also on weekends.  The facility is very open and playful and welcoming.  The students are encouraged to explore their own ideas and be creative during the sessions.  Cool Minds makes it fun and exciting for students to learn about concepts such as creative ceramics & candles, electronics/robotics, programming/gaming, biology/chemistry, and film/media.

Watch this short promotional video about Cool Minds.  It’s pretty great.  We need some more places like this here in the US.  Large children’s museums and large science centers are great, but a small intimate instructor-led hands-on activity center like Cool Minds has several benefits over those others.

Here is the Cool Minds website link to my speaking event:


First I gave an introduction about myself and where I grew up and how I was always bent towards science and engineering.  Then I talked to the students about Mars and gave them fun facts, like the length of a year, the length of a day, and the average temperature.

I had some NASA patches and pins, so I gave those away to students who raised their hands and guessed some of these fun Mars facts.

Then I talked a little bit about the Mars rovers and described what they are doing there and what their capabilities are.

Hands-On Activity

And then we went into the fun hands-on activity.  I’m really excited about this particular activity because it’s easy enough for them to repeat at home with their parents and siblings.  And they can add to it and improve it at home too.

The activity has each student create a robotic finger for a Mars robot using common everyday items like a drinking straw, some string, a button, and a washer.  And then at the end, we combine students and they combine 4 robotic fingers to make a working robotic hand.


The students really seemed to enjoy this hands-on activity.  And they were pretty excited to have someone from NASA come to talk to them.

It was a great experience for me too.  I enjoyed seeing the Cool Minds facility and meeting its creator, Farzin Saber.  Farzin is passionate about exposing kids to fun learning activities that they might never otherwise experience.

Here is a 15 minute Ted talk about Cool Minds that Farzin gave back in January of 2017:

Tomorrow I’ll publish a blog post about some of the sightseeing my wife and I did in Malmo Sweden.

Thanks for your interest!


My Trip To Malmo, Sweden: The Conference


Last week I had the honor of giving the closing keynote presentation at the 13th annual Öredev software developer conference in Malmo, Sweden!

Here is the Öredev conference website!  (Check it out!  It actually has my face on it!)


Öredev is a 3 day conference for software developers with an attendance of a maximum of 1200 developers.  It is pretty popular in Scandinavia and has sold out for the past several years now.  During those 3 days, Öredev packed in 8 separate keynotes and a total of 140 separate technical sessions!  The schedule each day was jam packed with 7 simultaneous speakers every hour all day long with no scheduled breaks!  It was a pretty great event and the organizers did a wonderful job!

source: Twitter

The Öredev organizers feel strongly enough about using only live speakers, that they pay for their airfare,  hotel,  and food.  The venue for the conference is an old slaughterhouse that has been cleaned up and converted into a performance theater and meeting place.  The theater seats 900, I believe.

source: Twitter


My keynote presentation is story-based and it is called “Pioneering Mars!”  It presents the story of how we will get to Mars in the year 2034.  It describes all the missions that will pave the way and all the technologies that have to be invented first.  This version of my presentation is nearly an hour long, but I plan to create several versions of various lengths that I can pull out and present to various audience types.

Here is the official Öredev 2017 video of my 60 minute keynote on Vimeo:

My keynote presentation was very well received and I got a ton of compliments from both attendees and from other speakers!


I also gave a 40 minute technical presentation called “Writing Apps For Mars” which compares common mobile apps to the software running onboard the Mars rovers.  It was a very fun talk to create and to present.

Here is the official Öredev 2017 video of my 40 minute technical presentation on Vimeo:


Full videos of all the keynotes and talks, are posted on the Öredev Vimeo channel.  And if you’re really into it, you can even scroll through and watch keynotes and technical talks from prior years!


Also, this was only the second time I’d ever left the United States.  I had a really great experience!  Tomorrow I’ll publish a blog post about a children’s activity center that I got to visit and speak at while I was in Malmo.

Thanks for your interest!


Mars Freebies!

If you didn’t already know, I work for NASA.  And this job allows me to perform public speaking quite a bit.  NASA encourages all of its employees to further the NASA story and to inform the public about what we do!  Which is pretty great!

This blog post will attempt to compile all the NASA Journey To Mars related “goodies” or “freebies” that I become aware of.  By collecting and compiling this information here, I will be able to quickly and easily direct my audience to this material.

Please email me directly or leave a comment below if you find anything wrong with this compilation or if you know of any other freebies that you would like me to add!

Thanks for your interest!


Tiny URL

The short and super easy to remember address for this page is:

Please feel free to share this tiny URL with everyone you know!

Mars Recruitment Posters

These retro looking recruitment style posters are very popular.  They depict the different type of explorers that will be needed by NASA for our Journey To Mars.

Just click on any of these thumbnails and you can view or download the full resolution image!  NASA images are all in the public domain, so you can print and share them all you want!


Mars Desktop Wallpaper

Show off your support of NASA’s Journey To Mars with these awesome high resolution desktop wallpaper designs!

Just click on any of these thumbnails and you can view or download the full resolution image and use it as your desktop wallpaper!

Mars Smartphone Wallpaper

You’ll be the coolest person around if you install one of these NASA’s Journey To Mars wallpapers on your phone!

Just click on any of these thumbnails and you can view or download the full resolution image and use it as your smartphone wallpaper!

Journey To Mars Summary Video

This short NASA video is perfect for quickly introducing an audience to NASA’s Journey To Mars.  It’s only 2 minutes long and it quickly goes over our plans.  This video includes music and voice narration.

Just click on the thumbnail and you can view or download the full resolution video!  NASA videos are all in the public domain, so you can present and share them all you want!

Journey To Mars Great Hall Exhibit Video

This is a pretty great NASA video that you can show in your venue.  It was created as a looping museum hall exhibit.  It is 8 minutes long and it details some of our plans on how we will get from where we are right now, to a point where we have astronauts living and working on Mars.  This video includes music and contains no voice narration.  There is occasional text on the screen to take the place of narration.

Just click on the thumbnail and you can view or download the full resolution video!  NASA videos are all in the public domain, so you can present and share them all you want!

Curiosity Rover Model For 3D Printing

If you have access to a 3D printer, you can download this free 3D model file and print yourself a small model of the Curiosity Rover!  It prints parts that snap together and the wheels and arms actually move!  It’s pretty cool!

Journey To Mars Logo at Lands’ End

Yeah, this is not technically free, I suppose.  But if you want to buy some Lands’ End shirts with the official NASA Journey To Mars logo on it, just ask for logo #1370228.

Hands-On Learning Activity For Students

Build Your Own Working Robot Hand!

These instructions are in work and I will update this section as soon as it is complete!  Thank you for your patience!


How to make an awesome eclipse viewing rig!

Do you own binoculars?

Do you own a tripod?

If your answer to both of these questions is YES, then you have what it takes to create a pretty awesome, and completely safe, eclipse viewing rig!

Here are the step by step instructions!

Step 1

DO NOT look through the binoculars!  That is very very dangerous!

Step 2

Attach your binoculars to your tripod using any means necessary.  I used wood clamps but duct tape also works pretty good.  (Although it leaves a sticky residue.)

Step 3

NEVER EVER EVER look through the binoculars! You will destroy your retinas!

Step 4

Attach white paper or white cardboard a foot or so directly below the binoculars, with the binoculars pointing in the direction of the sun.  Again, I used wood clamps, but duct tape can also do this job.

Step 5

DON’T EVEN THINK about looking through the binoculars!  That’s a completely stupid idea!

Step 6

Cut a hole in some cardboard and place it over the binoculars to create a shade panel.  Now only the sun will be projected onto the white paper below the binoculars.  You can use the binocular’s focus capability to get the sun into perfect focus on the paper.

Step 7

That’s all.  There are no further steps.  Other than to NEVER look at the sun.  ESPECIALLY through binoculars.

Here is what the sun looked like today while I was setting up and testing my rig.  It looked really cool when thin wispy clouds flew by!

To get this photo, I just held up my iPhone very close to the white paper, white balanced on the center of the white sun image by clicking on it with my finger and snapped this photo.

It looks even better with the naked eye!

If you look closely, you can see three sunspots!  Amazing!

Thanks for your interest!  And remember to never look at the sun!  Especially through binoculars!

Feel free to share this post on your favorite social media accounts!


Sunday August 20th update:

This blog post appears to be going a bit viral this morning!  Thank you to everyone who has shared it!  I’m happy that so many people find it useful!

I will gladly share your eclipse photos here!  If you make your own eclipse viewing rig using binoculars, put your eclipse photos and videos online (Flickr, Facebook, YouTube, Dropbox, etc.).  Then contact me using the “Email Us” link at the bottom of this website!  Give me the link to your media and tell me what city and state you were in and I will post thumbnails and links right here in this blog post!

Photos and Videos from all over the country!

From [name goes here] in [city, state]:

[image thumbnail with link to original hosted on another site]

From [name goes here] in [city, state]:

[image thumbnail with link to original hosted on another site]

Three reasons I love Battlestar Galactica (1978)

Here are my top 3 reasons to love Battlestar Galactica (1978):


The premise was that life didn’t start on Earth and they were actually searching for this “legendary” planet called Earth.


The show has 6 foot tall Cylons with one red eye moving side to side, which was also used for K.I.T.T. in the 1982 TV show Knight Rider! Both shows were written by Glen A. Larson, along with The Fall Guy and Magnum P.I.!


The most futuristic and advanced computer imaginable, the Tandy (Radio Shack) TRS-80, was used onboard the ship!

Why do you love Battlestar Galactica (1978)?  Post your reasons below in the comments!

Thanks for your interest!