Tech Banditry Status Report April 14th 2020

Welcoming Tech Bandits Racoon

Greetings Brave Tech Bandits of the Coronapocalypse!

I hope this finds you all healthy, well rested, but contagiously curious?  It has been far too long since my last Techlett update! 

Now that we’ve gone online with our Tech Bandits sessions, I’ve noticed that just about every Zoom session we’ve had has featured some kind of “photo bombing” fuzzy pets wandering onto camera or even serving as weird “Invasion of the Bodysnatcher” backdrops!?

…so I want to make sure that cute reptiles don’t miss out.  So, here’s crested Gecko Casper talking a walk on our bathroom mirror:

Our last Tech Bandit’s session was so exciting!  I asked the gang, “how could we use Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math to help friends and family during a pandemic”?

I gave as an example possible COVID inspired fashions that I had been working on using my own inner design genius to create practical, fashionable and Covid-friendly clothing designs:

…needless to say, The Bandits took things in a new direction. The team started working out how they could design, build and distribute, wearable social distancing sensors! Looking at how this project would unfold, the Bandits came up with the idea of adding non-contact temperature sensors and the ability to “whitelist” close friends and family using Bluetooth connections!? The design, I was told, would have to be eco-friendly, renewable and accessible to as many people as possible…I was blown away…even my sister was impressed with what we’d come up with! ;-).   We spoke about using Arduino and the possibility of getting some help from Let’s Talk Science as they have been using much smaller MicroBits and how we could look into turning the finished product into LTS MicroBit education kits for other kids to explore as well…Amazing?!    Gotta say, I’m so looking forward to what they’ve got to show me this week!
Micro:BitArduino NanoUltrasonic distance sensorNon Contact Thermometer
My amazing sister, Moyra, who actually has a teaching degree…rather than just playing teachers on tv… has been helping me create actual lesson plans for my Tech Bandits sessions! I’ve decided that we’re probably best to focus on TinkerCad, as that’s the most similar online version of “hands-on” I’ve found for our Bandits to work with…and I’ve gotta say, I’m loving the 3D design, circuits, coding and exporting options for sending 3D designs to LEGO and Minecraft for the many bandits without 3D printers at home!’m also happy to announce that I’m adding a new PC Gaming Lunch Club to The Tech Bandits lineup. The PC Bandits? Game Bandits?! (Suggestions welcome!)

I was lucky enough to get the help of a PC Guru… Mike’s son, and previous Tech Bandit, Jack… who is now my go-to source for all PC gaming knowledge! Jack was kind enough to walk our new Bandit, Eli, and I, through some things to consider  (like price vs. performance) when selecting the various components needed to get a wicked gaming PC up and running. Eli and I then went on to discuss what kind of things he could be doing now to help him become a professional online gamer/streamer. I see a great opportunity here, to get him and Bandits like him, working on business, marketing, planning and communication skills that can be of use in all areas of life…not just gaming.  So, if there are PC Gaming Bandits interested in honing their hardware and streaming skills, be sure to get in touch!

PC Builder Purple Water CoolingPCI board and GPU PC Builder

I’ve also been inspired (yet again!) by my friends at Let’s Talk Science! This time they’ve sucked me in with some crazy amazing jobs, some of which  I didn’t even know existed?!  They’ve got a virtual guidance counselor, helping kids find jobs based on what they love doing!?

Disney Princesses with Real Jobs
 The image above is of Disney Princesses reimagined in their “dream jobs” by illustrator Matt Burt… Brilliant!

I was so excited about this idea of educating kids about possible careers, that I started doing my own, chatty little interviews, with people who have really cool jobs or ones that sure sound cool, because  they are so passionate and excited about them.  If you happen to know someone with a job they love, then let me know… or better yet, fill out Let’s Talk Science’s Career Profile!
I started off with the mad idea of streaming these interviews live, on Baz and my Twitch Channel while battling zombies, giant spiders, bow & arrow wielding skeletons and exploding creepers.  Possibly not the best environment for conducting interviews as my brilliant, eloquent and wonderfully patient friend James Gurney, the Virus Scientist discovered.  More screaming and dying than talking careers!
Phages attacking bacteriaThat said, we may now have lost him to building giant bacterial phages (viruses that attack bacteria!) on our volunteer-run Minecraft server!  While not a complete failure, it has made me rethink my approach… so when I interviewed my next victim… my magnificent Internet marketing friend Dstat… I went with a more traditional online chat approach which I’ll cut together with some suitable Minecraft builds later.  Dstat has since gone on to become our first official Tech Bandits funding sponsor…and we’re in the process of figuing out how that’s going to work with his digital marketing agency and helping to promote his Dad’s online electronics store!

 Next up, I had a wonderfully animated interview with my fabulously inspired, dental hygienist, friend, Tammy…who works at a very high tech dental practice called

…Despite some early skepticism on my part,  she got me really excited (and a bit jealous) about all the cool dental tech and tools she gets to play with!

Next I joined JackJasra, my online graphic and emote designing friend (who’s responsible for our terrific Tech Bandits logo) over on his Twitch Stream!  What a great experience, watching him transform a rough idea, from a smart, simple sketch, to a fully fleshed-out finished product…all the while talking me through his Computer Science education adventures and how he got started in graphic design!

I’ve also had the pleasure of talking deadly arachnids and unconscious bias…and just about everything else, with the amazing University of Toronto Spider Professor, Maydianne…who along with researching the mating habits of cannibalistic spiders, has the largest collection of Black Widow spiders on the planet!  Some of the Bandits might have seen her spider friends when her equally impressive husband and professor Andrew brought them in for a Tech Bandits session last year!
Andrew Talks Deadly Webs With the Bandits!Maydianne’s amazing interview was followed by an equally fascinating and entertaining chat that involved tales of an Indiana Jones insect hunter youth, maggot firing parasitic flies and the endless cool of laser doppler vibrometers! This chat was with Andrew, Maydianne’s amazing, curiosity driven, U of T Professor husband.  His research into the auditory prowess of acoustic parasitoids (the super accurate hearing of tiny cricket stalking flies) may well have in part, lead to a whole new approach to radar!?  Andrew explores neuroethology (studying living things to figure out how the physical brain and nervous system makes them behave the way they do) and the many different ways that different animals communicate!
Whew… So many Tech Banditry related adventures to tell you about, I know… and naturally, I’m looking forward to even more!

Thanks again to our sponsor DSTAT and all of our fabulous Patreon Patrons & Twitch Subscribers for making this possible.

Stay Safe, Stay Home, Stay Curious!



You can help us out by scoring your own cool TechBandits merch here: Bandits Sweet MerchandiseAs always, all comments, suggestions and especially DONATIONS are welcome!
You can become a much loved and cherished Tech Bandits patron here:

Curiosity is contagious. Tech Bandits is about inspiring excitement and passion for Science Technology, Engineering Arts and Math.  Our club is a magnificent, mad, mess of curiosity driven exploration that follows random inspiring STEAM connections…often with a focus on assistive tech.  Adaptive, and rehabilitative systems, for people with disabilities or the elderly, include a ton of crazy, cool, innovative, inspirations, including robotics, biotech, chemistry, programming, big data, AI, design and so much more… plus the Bandits really respond well to seeing the direct connection between the technologies they’re playing with and improving their fellow human’s lives. 

Contagious Curiosity – Inspired, Lifelong Learning

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