Nova Labs Celebrates Women Who Make With May Events and Classes

Be like Wendy the welder!

Moms, girls, teens, wives, dads of girls, husbands of maker women, brothers of girls; we all have a role in encouraging makers who make. You are all potential mentors and supporters of women and girls in their quest to discover the joy of making things. 

Add these action items to the ToDo (or HoneyDo) lists this month ladies (and gents).

 Celebrate Mother’s Day on Sunday, May 13th. But first, drop by the Maker Market and Artisan Fair for your handmade gifts for your Mum or other special lady. She’ll love the awesome handmade art made with love by our makers and artisans. Bring her for a tour of the lab and show that she can join in on the making. Ladies, teens, and girls should join us throughout the entire Month of May for a celebration and encouragement of women who make. 

5/2/2018: Our keynote speaker and kickoff event.  Featuring Elizabeth Dougherty from the US Patent and Trade office where she is the Director of Inventor Education, Outreach, and Recognition.

“Encouraging women to participate in STEM fields is not an issue of competing with men or debating whether men or women are better these fields; it is about recognizing and accepting differences and the success that diversity can bring. ”  

Come meet some of great female makers in the metal and woodshops. Then, sign up for some of our women/girls-only shop classes during the month in the woodshop, metalshop, electronics, laser, and all over the makerspace.

 May 23: Women’s MIG Welding 101

View a Larger Image of Premier Cigar Ballpoint Pen Kit - Gold


May 20: Women’s Wood Lathe – Wood barrel pens. Learn to make gorgeous pens and other objects on the lathe.

May 12: Women’s Metal Yellow Shop Orientation


***More events to come. Tune back in to this blog post as we put more up on our meetup!***

Reston Museum’s Cardboard Regatta sets sail Saturday!

LakeWeigh anchor for the 1st Reston Museum Cardboard Regatta!

Preparations for the Reston Museum’s 1st Cardboard Regatta are wrapping up at Nova Labs. Two boats have been taking shape over the past several days – one for Nova Labs, and another for NoVa Maker Faire. Both will be ready to go for the race.

Please come and cheer us on, or volunteer for the repair booth that is being staffed by the Nova Labs community.


The main event is THIS Saturday, August 12, with the race starting around 2pm. Location is the Boat rental area at Lake Anne Plaza

More details at the event website.

Check out some of these photos of the construction of the two boats:

Reston Museum Cardboard Boat Regatta – 8/12/2017

Summer fun for makers – cardboard boat race in Reston!

Cardboard boat hull

The hull of boat #1 is largely complete!

Nova Labs and Maker Faire NoVa will sponsor and staff a boat repair clinic & dry dock at Reston Museum’s Cardboard Boat Regatta. Both Nova Labs and the Faire will enter a boat in the regatta, too!

Cardboard hull pieces

Hull pieces cut on the laser cutter


A cardboard boat race!


Saturday, August 12th from 2-6pm


Boat rental area at Lake Anne Plaza

Join the fun:

Please consider joining our boat build sessions! They’re held evenings and weekend afternoons between now and race day at Nova Labs – look for sessions listed at

Cardboard boat hull being assembled

Boat #1 coming together

You can also help out the day of the race at the Nova Labs dry dock tent. Volunteers will have spare cardboard and duct tape to assist race teams with last minute boat fixes and answer questions about Nova Labs and the Faire. Contact [Jeanne Marshall] if you are able to help (see the email in the Chatter list serv).

 If you’d like to enter your own boat, you’ll find rules and registration at the event website. If you can’t help out in advance, please come to Lake Anne Plaza to cheer on our 2 boat teams!

We look forward to seeing you at a boat build or on race day!

Paper boat prototype

Paper boat prototype

Nova Labs Cupid’s Arts and Crafts Fair, Saturday Feb 11, Free


Come and bring your family, friends, and kids to the first annual Nova Labs Maker Arts and Crafts air. Join our artisans, an amazingly creative group of entrepreneurs. Inspirational!  See what YOU could be doing here with our tools. Buy products or order a custom design from our artisans. Crafting at Nova Labs is done either with hand tools or with our industrial machines, Including 3d printed, metalworking, woodworking, jewelry, handmade wool items, soaps and bath products, scarves, painted glassware, door decor, stained glass, canvas paintings, masks, dolls, cards, personalized items, key chains, and much more!  (

Metalwork piece

Metalwork piece


 While you are here, get a tour of our amazing maker space and try your own making in our craft making room. Play with Mandy the robot and our BB8 robots. 


This event will encourage and support our Nova Labs artisans inventors in general. Our community now includes an awesome traditional crafters, artists, and industrial craftsmen. Metalworking, woodworking, electronics. 










We still have some tables available for makers and crafters to sell. Contact us at

Contact events with your request for vendor information. Demonstrations welcome. Tables are $10 each. Multiple tables are allowed. 


LOTS of free parking close to the door. While here you can connect and network with our growing community of crafting fine art entrepreneurs.


Nova Labs observes National Week of Making

June 17-23rd, 2016, kicks off the National Week of Making, courtesy of the White House initiative to get more participation in STEM and STEM fields, and get more Americans using the new generation of technologies (Arduino, 3d-printing, CNC, etc) to make things.

We at Nova Labs fully support this effort and would like to help by highlighting just some of the events that will be happening at Nova Labs during the National Week of Making.

Friday, June 17th
Chaos machine setup for National Maker Faire –

Saturday, June 18th
Robotics group monthly meeting –

Sunday, June 19th
Chaos machine teardown for National Maker Faire –

Monday, June 20th
3d-printer build night – Join build group #9 and build your own 3d-printer!

Tuesday, June 21st

Wednesday, June 22nd
Woodshop Wednesday.  Work with woodworking experts in our fully-equipped wood shop.
FPGA Study and experimentation –

Thursday, June 23rd
That’s just a typical week.  If you tap into the firehose of Nova Labs activities at, you’ll find something that calls out to you and your particular set of interests.  If not, let’s talk – people are waiting for new interest groups to form.

Also coming in July …

July 11 – 15

July 22 – 24
We are proud to host TOM:DC 2016 – Makeathon for Assistive Technology — Developing solutions to meet needs people with disabilities identify as important to them.

Let’s get making at Nova Labs!

Outreach and advertisting! Friday 5/15 at Reston Station

Start the weekend right at Reston Station!

Nova_Labs_Reston_station_5-15-2015On Friday, May 15, 2015, from 4-8pm, Nova Labs has been invited to participate in a ‘happy hour’ at Reston Station. The weekly summer-time event is organized by Comstock, the developer of Reston Station (and a past generous supporter of Nova Labs).

There will be live music, food, and beer/wine at the Reston Station plaza so people can grab a bite on the way home, linger for a while, and start the weekend on the right foot.

Nova Labs will be the first non-profit to be showcased at the event, but we need several volunteers!

Our job will be to provide the labor (4-6 volunteers) and for anyone who wants to show a project you’re working on or talk about what Nova Labs is to join in. And of course, to eat food and drink beer or wine if you’re old enough. (There will be other alternatives so this is very kid friendly).

For this first event, instead of food trucks, there will be BBQ sold by Yummy Pig, a new place in Leesburg.

Here’s what we need:

  • Volunteers (prefer over 21 just because of the beer/wine thing)
  • Anyone who wants to come over to set anything up/show off their projects. Some ideas:
    • Talk up the Kickstarter campaign to get the last of our stretch goals?
    • Set up a quadcopter flying area?
    • Set up a membership table?
    • Anyone who wants to eat fantastic BBQ and enjoy the evening.

Set up time is at 3, and we’ll be out of there by 8:30. Even if you can’t volunteer, grab some BBQ on the way to Nova Labs for the Meetups that evening.

If you’re interested and available, please contact Kelley Westenhoff ASAP at kbikeva at

Nova Labs Members 3D Print Prosthetic Hands for Kids in Support of E-NABLE Initiative

Photo: Courtesy of E-nabling the Future

Photo: Courtesy of E-nabling the Future

BALTIMORE — Over the course of several weeks, Nova Labs volunteers Jason Kohles, Keith McGerald, Paul Chase, Erica Kane, Jeff Balderson, and Thomas Johnston 3D printed hundreds of small parts that were assembled into 17 prosthetic hands for kids at last weekend’s E-NABLE Conference at Johns Hopkins Hospital.

In all, over 200 prosthetic hands were printed and assembled at the conference!


The E-nabling the Future initiative aims to harness the potential of open source designs and distributed, low-cost manufacturing to make the frequent refitting of prosthetic hands during kids’ growth years cost effective for families.

Photo: Iron Man Edition. Courtesy of E-nabling the Future

Support our efforts through a tax-deductible donation or get involved by signing up for our prosthetics group mailing list! To subscribe, register for a Nova Labs account, then visit your Nova Labs listserv management page to subscribe to the prosthetics listserv.

Girl Makers Visit Home Depot

Home Depot 1

RESTON — Last week the Reston Home Depot rolled out the red carpet and orange aprons for a “Girls Build” field trip of the GEMS-Girl Makers, a collaborative partnership between Nova Labs and Girls Excelling in Math and Science.

Home Depot Supervisor Angela Covington-Tyler organized the 2-hour program, which included hands-on demonstrations, an equipment tour, and a DIY wood build project for 10 excited girls.

“Who wants to try the drill?” she asked.

A stampede ensued.

Power Tools are Presented for Demonstration

home depot 4

Smiling customers stopped and watched.

“I had a lot of fun at the Home Depot,” said one 8 year old GEMS third grader. “I saw where all the wood was and where things are to make walls. A man showed us how to drill a hole in wood and we all got a turn. Another showed us how to wire a lamp!”


“Learning to use a hammer, drill and saw are life skills,” said Elizabeth Vandenburg, Founder of GEMS-Girl Makers of Nova Labs. “Girls are champing at the bit to get their hands on tools.”


The girls completed wood projects they were able to take home and show their friends.

“Reston Home Depot staff put so much thought and effort into teaching and showing the girls tools and how to use them safely,” said Nova Labs President Brian Jacoby. “And then the girls built things. How cool is that?”

Workshop on Polymers Kicks Off Nova Labs’ STEM4Makers Program


Makers LOVE polymers. Actually, makers have a lot of polymers in them and on them. DNA, protein, snot, clothing fibers, string cheese, DVDs, and 3D plastic filament are all fibrous polymers.


Our STEM4Makers program launched May 31st with a maker workshop on polymers and plastics to spotlight these beefy molecules. The STEM4Makers workshops will focus on connecting the maker mindset of exploration and inspiration to the science classroom.


The workshop first started with biology, moved on to the periodic table, and then tied in technology, application and use.


The team of mini makers made a slushy loose polymer using sodium polyacrylate, which they extracted from baby diapers. This material is used commercially by a company called Mr. Thirsty to suck up water in homes that are flooded. The kids also made a less viscous polymer using polyvinyl acetate (PVA), which is found in school glue.


The class then made milk bioplastic. Pictures were displayed showing how the resulting bioplastic could be used to create useful items, such as belt buckles and plates. Their final activity was to make a molecular model of their own polymer or plastic. This was intended to solidify the classroom science concepts: mer-to-poly-to-cross-linking.


Science requires good note taking!

Who knows, with a little making these kids could grow up to be the  polymer engineer who uses 3D printing to make bionic ears, exoskeletons, or great art!

Organizers hope to lead a follow-on class focusing on how polymers can be used to solve problems encountered in common projects at Nova Labs.

Thank You to Our Mentors!

Nova Labs would like to thanks our mentors, Sudhita, Dominick, and Jennyfer for making the polymer workshop a success. Next, Dominick will mentor a class on Javascript and Mindcraft, a popular online game that requires a lot of player imagination. Workshops in basic electronics, woodworking, and an afterschool maker meetup are also being planned.

Mentors Wanted

As an all-volunteer program, STEM4Makers relies on volunteer mentors like YOU! Helpers are needed during the 2 hour workshops and for planned after school programs. Please subscribe to our kids listserv or email to volunteer.

Nova Labs Represents Makerspaces at The U.S. Science and Engineering Festival


WASHINGTON — This past weekend, Nova Labs joined Unallocated Space and HacDC in helping to represent area makerspaces. Among the exhibits were robots from Nova Labs FIRST Robotics teams, led by Tom Welsh, a 3D printer of the same design used by our current 3D printer build group, as well as drones!

Member Bob Coggeshall was on hand to represent Nova Labs’ incubator program and to spread the word about how Small Batch Assembly is lowering the cost for hardware innovators.


Nova Labs’ booth was graciously provided by Gary Mauler, organizer of RobotFestan annual event for anyone interested in the creative use of technology.