VOTE - to establish a Hive13 sponsored "STEAM Tech Lending Library"

Hi All:

This is a request for the membership vote to establish a Hive13 sponsored “STEAM Tech Lending Library”.

An affirmative vote would authorize this proposed initiative to begin in January, 2018, as a first-year trial. It would start as a small-scale activity as outlined below and be run by a few volunteer members including myself. Any interested members are welcome and encouraged to join in to make it a reality.

The idea came from discussions with John Choi ( at the past Cincinnati Mini-Maker Faire. The Hive would start our own variant of the AIU3 Center for Creativity STEAM Lending Library in the Pittsburgh area. The AIU3 makes the latest in STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics) learning hardware available to educators for free trial use; targeted to elementary, middle, and secondary level classrooms. Examples of their specific hardware offerings include Osmos, Hummingbird Robotics kits, Puzzlets, littleBits, and the Choitek MegaMark robot platform. In the three years since its inception, this one-of-a-kind offering has grown with generous funding from the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation. In their setup, teachers in Allegheny county area school districts complete a free one-day professional development course, and are then eligible to borrow classroom sets of equipment to experiment with in their classrooms.

In our implementation, the Hive would acquire and procure an initial and expanding collection of selected technology offerings to stock our STEAM Tech Lending Library. Initial offerings might include our own Learn2Solder setup, the SparkFun Arduino Inventor’s kit, and perhaps even leverage our own members’ initiatives via RoboMotiveLabs and Polar3D. We also intend to execute an agreement to acquire a consigned Choitek MegaMark robot platform at no-cost during 2018 as part of this vision. We would start small to build a pilot web-presence for this free lending library. We would not directly sell any of this hardware, but rather we provide a somewhat endorsed and supported user experience ecosystem for local borrowers to “check-it-out”. We would make outreach to local known STEAM educators and see where it goes during the first year. We think to establish an initial endowment fund to separately support library acquisitions for this activity. We intend to get this ball rolling and then investigate opportunities for Grant funding to expand the scope in out years.

This idea has several potential benefits that would honor and build upon our mission (to exchange ideas, skills, and information, learning from each other as well as teaching) and increase our visibility and outreach into our regional community. In a few years it may grow to become a significant signature activity, and perhaps spin-off into other interesting (and currently unknown) directions.

I respectfully request your “YES” vote and support for this proposed activity during 2018.


Sounds awesome.
We could setup checkout boxes/bins with all the stuff and a checksheet to assure the bigger parts get returned.

We can talk more tonight.

I vote NO on this, and very strongly encourage everyone to do so.

I have a couple of reasons for doing so, which I went over during the meeting, but will repeat here for the benefit of anyone not present.

Firstly, AIU3 has permanent, paid, full-time staff whereas we do not. All of our projects are member-supported on a volunteer basis. We simply do not have the manpower to undertake this operation. The contract from Choitek obligates us to do several tasks as part of this arrangement:

  1. Set up a Lending Library portion of our website, including keeping it up to date. This will take up a not insignificant amount of time, on both an initial and ongoing basis.
  2. Communicate regularly (at least once a month) with Choitek regarding any activities undertaken concerning the platform.
  3. Maintain the device. We are not allowed to make any permanent modifications to the device.
  4. We must apply for at least one grant to expand our library. If that grant is approved, then we are obligated to purchase this robot, no matter what. Grants take a huge amount of time to write, and if it’s accepted, we’re buying this thing, no matter what.
    Yes, the agreement may be terminated for any reason whatsoever by either side, but we still may be held liable.

In conclusion, I think this is an extraordinarily unwise proposition, and cannot support it.

One other thing I forgot to mention - we have to supply a laptop of our own, at our cost from Hive funds, to make this robot usable. We’re obligated to lend it free of charge, so we’ll be sinking money into this with no real chance of getting much useful out of it, not even new members. I believe Dave V. brought up the point that even if it attracts interest in students, they’re under 18 and can’t become members.

Once again, I’m voting NO on this.

I am leaning toward a “no” on the robot lending thing.
While a neat idea, I think it ties us to this company and the part about requiring us to apply for a grant, and if we get one, using that money to by the robot seems an undue burden on us. They are a business, but we are not.

I actually like the idea of having “kits” for school activities like Learn to Solder, or Arduino basics.
My vision is that we could train the teacher for the activity and give them the purchase list. This could be extremely helpful for the teachers that feel like they are lost in what to do. I have a neat book on setting up a makerspace that they could borrow.

Let’s have some more productive conversation about what we think this concept would look like. I would propose we start small and see what works.



Your argument is sound. I would like to add on that this vote has no dollar amount added to it. Will this be a $1000 project or a $10,000 project? As this is an ongoing project, Who will dedicate their time? What happens when that person gets burnt out, or is out of town for a large amount of time due to work or personal life?

At this stage I vote No

My thoughtful concerns:

As with any business proposition, the first questions are

  1. Who are the Customers? Are they; Teachers? Students? What ages? What experience?
  2. What need does this product fulfill? How do we know what the customer wants?
  3. Why do we as individuals want to do this? What is the payback to HIVE13 as an organization? Is this our group charitable donation? Is this activity innately fulfilling on and educational or an emotional level?

We need to Define the customer NEED.
Then define how the HIVE13 members or an offshoot could deliver on a solution to the need.


I recommend that we investigate the market by holding discussions with all of the following folks already into STEAM education.
The Library Makerspace,

Please feel free to add to my SWOT analysis

HIVE13 Strengths.
Intelligent maker membership.
Variety of equipment and capabilities
HIVE13 Weaknesses
Volunteer Do-ocracy = herding cats
Many members are employed and / or students - less discretionary free time.
Limited experience as educational resource for adults and or children (who among us have delivered on a syllabus or educational plan? It was a lot of work, Huh?)
The HIVE is not a kid friendly space nor does the hive have an active education plan. Imagine the annex set up for Saturday hands on classes with 10 to 20 students.
HIVE13 Opportunity
It is possible to enlist members in projects, including building and maintaining items (toys) to lend. Note if they are lent out we can’t play with them.
It is possible to PARTNER with other organizations to better define the customers and need
It is possible to recruit new members interested in this mission.
It is possible with a mission and partners to solicit donations.
HIVE13 Threats.
Start up investment - seed money spent with no method of recovery.
Competition for funds and volunteer resources.Other organizations with similar / compatible goals and established partnerships with schools
This kind of outreach effort requires extrovert personalities and active volunteer recruitment to support and sustain the activities.
Based on experience with other volunteer organizations this will require a significant expenditure of time by many people.
To make this work the HIVE13 membership must grow. Significantly

I was not at the meeting, but I would like make some observations that are probably unspoken as of yet.

  1. Jim Dallam is a very thoughtful, and deliberate member of our community who definitely thinks everything through quite well. If he is bringing a proposal to the table, I am willing to bet that he is also willing to see it carried out properly (including the recruitment and coordination of a volunteers, etc). Jim has worked hard on a lot of our endeavors and I’m pretty sure that power tool drag racing would not have happened without his thoughtfulness, planning, attention, and passion. I bring this up because, in an organization like ours, successful projects are almost always carried on the work of one, two, or a few members who “make it work”.

Hive13 provides a public structure (501c3, insurance, building, etc), which allows community members to take on projects more easily. For a crafts-person / maker, Hive provides space and shared tooling. In this case, Hive would be providing an organizational framework and existing non-profit status.

1a. It’s up to Jim and his volunteers, to do the work. So, if anyone is indentured by this, it would be Jim. Even with the contract in question, Hive membership and leadership has the right / responsibility of internal organization. If we are concerned about finances, we could cap them, do a “gofundme” or require that excess liabilities to be drawn from outside the Hive13 funds. If any member is concerned about indenture, well, they can simply not participate.

  1. Hive13 does not exist in a vacuum. I am certain that other organizations would be interested in offering support to us. Breakthrough Cincinnati, for one, would probably love to help out. Children’s Hospital is actively supporting this type of endeavor, and there is a presentation today by “Maker Therapy”, in fact This would be one of many places to start.

  2. As a successful grant writer with 15 years of experience, I can assure everyone that grants are easy. In fact, I’m happy to write them for any project hive comes up with. We have hackers of all sorts. I get totally overwhelmed by writing a 20 lines of C++, but I can whip out 20 pages of grant writing in a weekend. Also, nonprofit community grants are so easy. I’ve done an NSF grant, and yeah, it was 300+ pages and took a team and 2 years, but that was for $3 million and this is NOT the NSF.

For the best grant application, you need an organized project first. An initial backing and structure strengthens the application. Choitek obviously has this in mind. They are providing a backbone or foot-in-the-door which provides structure upon which to build successful proposals. The choitek contract is sort of like the credit record you need to get your first car loan. BUT, in this case, the bank does not collect collateral, and the money is a gift. Trust me. I am willing to handle this, or any other grant, non-profit, education expert thing regardless of whether I like the project – consider it my contribution to Hive as a whole.

Before casting a judgement, let’s stop, think about the big picture and try to frame this in a way that:

a) Supports interested members and community
b) does not alienate anyone
c) does not require personal investment by members who wish to not participate.
d) has a path to accountability

Concerning point d, that would, primarily, be Jim. If I write grants, then I would be accountable for those. If finances are an issue, then lets add financial structure. If maintenance responsibility is an issue, then let’s budget it in there.

Dave V is correct that we are looking at a business proposal, and we should treat it as such. I’m pretty sure that Hive13 can manage to support Jim’s proposal in a way that does not make Hive13 insoluble.Finally, as a corporation, Hive13 allows things like this to happen without personal liability (even for Greg A). If the robot spontaneously goes on a killiing spree, and Hive13 is sued in civil court for damages, probably the only result would be to that Hive13 would dissolve – members would then be free to re-associate as Hive14 and move on.

Please, let’s try to work this through constructively, even if we don’t like it, aren’t interested, or have conflicts of opinion.


Wow! One of the challenging things I like about the Hive is the wildly diverging points of view. Like two people seeing an elephant from different ends; the view from the front sees promising opportunities and the view from the rear sees imminent catastrophe. I appreciate the valid pros and cons put forward in the preceding posts, but do not see the same negative projections. It looks like Tuesday's vote will not be unanimous, FOR or AGAINST, and that is OK. There is room to agree and disagree. I will submit to the considered wisdom of the Hive majority, which I hope votes FOR this initiative.

Lorin made some good points. The Hive can be many different things to different members. So let us all live and let live, but always follow the guiding principle to DO NO HARM. This was perhaps under-emphasized in the initial pitch leading to the initial reactions. The operable words in the proposal are SMALL, FIRST-YEAR TRIAL, and PILOT PROJECT conducted by myself and any small group of volunteers that want to join me.

The Maker Faire and Power Tool Drag Racing activities made a similar small start back in 2013. It happened and grew from the initiative and personal commitments of a small group. It was always 100% self-funded by the volunteers and income from the venues, independent from the Hive's general accounts and involvement. It was quite a ride, and we had no idea it would take us to Detroit, New York, and San Francisco. The Hive has benefitted from these activities, which have now run their course, so to speak.

This proposed STEAM Tech Lending Library will be similarly 100% self-funded, and totally independent from the Hive's general account and involvement. It will be SMALL SCALE and no bigger than I intent to support on my own, with whoever volunteers to join me. I'll find a laptop for the robot. We will honor the DO NO HARM principle. I'm in it for the fun, to try to make an impact, and to meet new people who don't yet know they want to be part of our bigger Hive too. Please consider to join me.

Respectfully, JimD

Katie and I give it 2 thumbs up. Way to reach out yet again to the community and hiver’s Jim!!!

I vote YES.
Count me as an active partner.

What a great way for the HIVE13 community to pay it forward.

Best Regards,
Dave Velzy

In principle I do like the idea of the technology lending library however having now read the agreement, and many of the concerns in this thread, I am hesitant to vote in favor of it. In absence of a strong feeling either way, I’m currently leaning toward “Abstain”. Regardless of my personal vote I am still committed to help build and maintain the website if the membership decides to go forward with it.

Ian B.

Yes I think we need to clarify what the vote is for.
I would lean towards separating concept and the actual execution of the loaner robot.

Katie read it to me while driving briefly and I see where the conflict in wording is and where things could go wrong. I would have to switch to abstain until terms were revised. I definitely would like to see them have acsess to things like that however I don’t think we have the right setup currently for the terms.

Personally, I see this as a decision to permit the hive to explore being a resource for learning, not as a discussion of the merits of a Choibot. (Kind of limited in my opinion)

Voting yes on exploring a lending library is not about giving wide open permission to buy whatever ‘Squirrel’ attracts someones attention. I’m against that. We actually have a lot to talk about and work on before getting into contracts.

Consider your YES to permit discussion of what HIVE13 can do to foster STEAM learning in our community. Give us permission to meet with external partners, identify their needs, figure out what we can do to make STEAM exciting for young people.

Based on the community needs and our abilities and interests we can bring separate projects to your attention and potential participation.

Learn to solder kits are a great example of the possible, but there is lot’s more. Hands on kits that kids can see and get their minds around. What if the library had a Van de Graff generator kit to loan out or a solar generator, a lemon battery, wheat flour powered explosion, bottle rockets. I haven’t touched chemistry, biology, medicine.

What tech display caught your attention as a young person? … what catches your interest now?

There is much to discuss. See you Tuesday evening.

I see this as something completely do-able In the future with hive growth however would take a ton of logistics work and with some items possibly having to make sure we are covered insurance wise. I was lucky enough to go through the first robotics and it was AWESOME. However when a few of us graduates came back to help electronic training stations to robot components had been pilfered for another ongoing project. I know it would not be going the lending library route however what if the hive reached out and “sponsored” a project or put together mentors to help head up community involvement? On ebay and alliexpress I found some slick arduino projects from very basic to pretty involved bluetooth autonomous robots/cars from 7 bucks to 70 bucks. To get our feet wet could we seek donations both monetary and man power to run with something on a small scale. My surgeries have set me back work wise a ton so I have not picked up an enclosed trailer again yet however the mobile maker station from LVL1 I believe was AMAZING. I did pick up a heavy duty 110/220 volt winco generator that is a beast for mobile stuff on a hive level for now i.e. Makerfaire.

Jim, do you think there is a way to get a small scale model of the bigger picture as a test run ? I am not allowed to be doing any heavy mechanical or fabrication work for a while as the next surgery is coming up and I will be straight legged for quite some time… but I will have time :slight_smile: . I HAVE to start learning coding and non mechanical things as I have to help a family member with home schooling. He is switching to it from just starting middle school and is on the Autism spectrum to a really noticeable degree and sadly other kids have a constant kick me sticker on his back literally and it being rough on him is an understatement. I do see outreach like this something that would benefit a broad spectrum, especially home schooled kids in the future if the hive were to put on an open to the public teaching/hands on night once a month. We could likely get some grants that could get us the nice concrete floor’d hive I have always dreamed about that has its own bay doors, etc lol.

Sorry to drag on just had to drive home from florida straight through and won’t be at the meeting tonight. Katies sister had her baby so we are un packing, packing and heading to help out with things and the transition home :slight_smile: . Please excuse any grammar issues as always, it has been a while since I slept and am still twitching from the java extreme caffeine coffee one after another at the truck stops. I will try to hop on the meeting via remote access if I am able, have a good day everybody!

Crud… I left early to do round two of first aid. Exacto is sometimes not a friend… anyway, any summary on this issue??

Dang hope all is well for ya. I just got back from my inlaws after rushing home from florida my wifes sister having a baby. I do not have any news as I did not have good enough internet to stream the meeting unfortunately. Something in this direction could be a great thing if logistics are figured out.

five stitches… even safety conscious people make mistakes.