What If... Festival takes over downtown Colorado Springs

September 5, 2013 Updated: September 5, 2013 at 3:54 pm
photo - Annione Platten, 8, of Colorado Springs, leans back to launch a water balloon from a slingshot rig set up byLockheed Martin for the What If...Festival on Saturday, Sept. 11 2010 downtown.
Photo by Brandon Iwamoto
Annione Platten, 8, of Colorado Springs, leans back to launch a water balloon from a slingshot rig set up byLockheed Martin for the What If...Festival on Saturday, Sept. 11 2010 downtown. Photo by Brandon Iwamoto 

"What if?" is the question we ask before any creative endeavor, says Deborah Thornton, executive director of the Imagination Celebration, a nonprofit organization that provides art programs for kids in the region.

That's the foundation of its fourth What If ... Festival of Innovation and Imagination.

"The festival is intended to draw us together in a day of joy and wows," says Thornton. Around 22,000 people attended last year's event.

More than 100 "experiences," including a giant water balloon catapult, a Mobile Music Project stage powered by people riding bikes and an adult scavenger hunt with prizes, along with four stages of music, food booths and a beer garden, will spread out around the Pikes Peak Center and Pioneers Museum on Saturday. There'll be gadgets, do-it-yourself demonstrations, experiments, new technologies, art making and more.

"I think every human is creative," Thornton says. "This is a way for everyone to do something creatively engaging."

However, it's not only just a fun way to spend an afternoon with family and friends.

"The serious intent - it's essential for community and economic development," Thornton says. "It's important to be innovative as a community and cross-pollinate ideas and collaborate."

Here is some of what you'll see at the festival.

"MakeyMakey: Fruit Pianos and Play Dough Drumsets"

Who:Dave Khaliqi, director of the Center for STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) Education at University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

What is it: A device that that will turn anything with a small amount of conductivity into keyboard input.

"It doesn't sound exciting until you think about what has conductivity," Khaliqi says.

A lemon has conductivity because of its citric acids, and acids have electrons available that can move. Using the MakeyMakey board and a USB connection, Khaliqi can plug a wire into a lemon, and use the lemon as the mouse.

What else has conductivity: Play-Doh and human bodies.

"The person can become a drum set or game controller," Khaliqi says, "or anything you want to interact with on your computer."

What's the Center for STEM Education?: The center's mission is to work with students in grades 3-12, and through workshops and camps keep them interested in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Khaliqi wants more kids to consider pursuing these topics as college majors. Too often, he says, they see students losing interest as they get older, and the center aims to reverse that.


"A September Snow Show ... Come GetOutfitted"

Who:Julian Flores; getoutfitted.com

What to expect: Flores plans to make it snow inside. He'll use a special effects machine, like the kind used in film and stage productions, to make evaporative artificial snow. It's 99 percent water and 1 percent a special nontoxic formulation, he says, that's not harmful to skin or surfaces.

The snowy environment will allow Flores to introduce his new company, GetOutfitted, that launches in October. Through his website, he'll rent ski and snowboard apparel and accessories. Products are delivered to the customer's doorstep, and then shipped back in the same packaging it came in.

"Think of it as Netflix for snow sports," Flores says.

Festival visitors can take a look at some of the products he'll have available, which includes a GoPro camera. The waterproof camera can be used in all conditions, and attaches to poles and around the chest or head.

The Nintendo Wii game, "Shaun White Snowboarding," will play, and visitors can pretend to snowboard on balance boards wearing a GoPro in the blowing snow.


Pikes Peak Library District

What: "Ancestor Detective"

The library will partner with the Pikes Peak Genealogical Society and help visitors track their ancestors.

What: "Walk Through Time ... Backwards"

Through the library's database with its special collections department, visitors can look back at old photos of Colorado Springs. The first photo of the area was taken in the 1870s, says Sean Anglum, PPLD's community engagement specialist - programs and outreach.

What: "Old Home Investigator"

Go back to the late 1800s, and find out what was on the property where you reside today.

What:"Step Into Your Imagination: Green Screen Antics"

Draw any background on a piece of paper with crayons, and the folks at the library will use a green screen to electronically insert you into the scene. It's the same technique weather forecasters use to stand in front of their weather maps on TV. There will also be previously made backgrounds available for visitors to "step into," including a shot of the Springs in the 1900s. The photos will go online and be downloadable at home.

What: "3D Printers: One of the Cool Tools at the 21st Century Library"

The library will show off one of its new 3D printers. The printer can take something, such as a bolt or figurine, Anglum says, and create a 3D representation of it using a plastic substance. The medical industry is already using them to make prosthetic body parts, such as ears and noses.


Contact Jennifer Mulson at 636-0270.


What If ... Festival of Innovation and Imagination

When: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; 5K ReallyFun CostumeRun, 9 a.m. Saturday

Where: Pikes Peak Center, 190 S. Cascade Ave.; Colorado Springs Pioneers Museum, 215 S. Tejon St.; Plaza of the Rockies, 111 S. Tejon St.

Tickets: Free; whatif-festival.org, whatif@imaginationcelebration.org

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