Makers, dreamers, inventors come together in San Diego!

After a long pause during the COVID-19 pandemic, the San Diego Makers Guild is looking to reenergize. Innovators and fun-loving creators are welcome to join!

I stumbled upon the San Diego Makers Guild tent at the Escondido Street Festival today. They are seeking cool new ideas and pathways to follow as makers move into a technology driven, ever evolving future. Interested? Hook up with them!

I was surprised to hear Dexter explain he’d helped build those awesome Cupcake Cars that have roamed around Balboa Park during past Maker Faires!

You can learn more about the San Diego Makers Guild by visiting their website here!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Fun at the Barrio Logan STEAM Block Party!

Explosive reactions! A gigantic walking virus! Snakes, molecules, robots and rockets!

Oh, wow! Check out the fun that families and kids enjoyed today during the Barrio Logan STEAM Block Party, part of this year’s very cool San Diego Festival of Science and Engineering!

There was much to see, do and learn in the outdoor plaza of Mercado del Barrio!

The event featured immensely entertaining live science demonstrations, creative kids activities, and even a bunch of awesome lowriders on display! I was personally pleased to see the substantial community involvement by UC San Diego.

Look at the great event attendance!
There’s plenty of science and technology to learn from lowriders–especially the hydraulics!
Check out this awesome lowrider!
Everywhere I turned, people were engaged in hands-on learning at this Barrio Logan Science and Art Expo!
Young Women in Bio.

I saw a demo of the above very cool science video game Microscopya, designed by Dr. Beata Mierzwa, an artist and UCSD molecular biologist! Students learn about cells and human biology while having tons of adventurous fun! Check out the web page here!

Friendly folks from the San Diego Public Library!
The ladies of Mad Science make a memorable demonstration using carbon dioxide.
That is planet Earth’s size relative to Jupiter!
Free Trees for your neighborhood!

If you live in San Diego, and want to plant a free street tree where you live, check this out!

EcoVivarium brought snakes, tortoises and other critters for the educational event.
A scientific experiment in progress.
Concentrating on science.
Two very impressive young men give a presentation concerning groundwater.
Look at all the drones!
That’s the biggest virus I’ve ever seen! I didn’t bring enough hand sanitizer.
That’s either goop or slime.
A smile!
The Vulcan-1 rocket, built by students at UC San Diego. It’s the world’s first undergraduate rocket powered by a 3D printed engine!
What’s the space weather today?
The science of tortillas!
Even very young kids were interested and excited!
STEAM related artwork by local students decorates the event stage.
A hand crank powers different light bulbs.
A fun demonstration of various physics principles by folks from General Atomics.
Yes, the boiling point of liquid nitrogen is -196 degrees celsius! Brrr!
What happened?
Hair-raising fun!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Power Avengers beat Darkula in Chula Vista!

In Chula Vista, the dastardly supervillain Darkula has been defeated, thanks to the superhero Power Avengers!

Don’t believe me? The exciting comic book story fills the walls of the Energy Station at the South Chula Vista Library!

When local sixth grade school students enter the Energy Station, with its action-packed walls, they might be inspired to become real life heroes. At the Energy Station makerspace they learn about energy conservation and sources of renewable energy, such as solar or wind power.

This unique City of Chula Vista project, created several years ago in partnership with San Diego Gas and Electric, aims to inspire the next generation to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics or STEM. Having a pipeline of future STEM workers is essential to the health and growth of our regional innovation economy, which depends on technical expertise in fields such as electrical engineering, biomedical research, and wireless communications…

No matter what a kid’s talents or interests might be, at the South Chula Vista Library they can learn how to create a brighter future and thwart the menace of Darkula . . . as members of the Power Avengers!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Local students engineer amazing robots!

Possibly my favorite part of today’s Grand Avenue Festival in Escondido was the robotics demonstration.

Students from several local high schools were showing their sophisticated robots, which can operate both autonomously and by manual control. These amazing robots are built every year to compete in the international FIRST Robotics Competition!

I saw one particular robot shooting balls into the air. One crazy looking robot with pipes sticking out of it was built to launch t-shirts!

All of the students I met were friendly and clearly smarter than me. Several provided technical explanations, which promptly went over my head.

I saw teams from Rancho Bernardo High School (Team E-Motion), Poway High School (Team Spyder), San Pasqual High School (Team SuperNURDS), and Escondido Charter High School (Team Daedalus).

Over the years, these local teams have had great success competing in the prestigious FIRST Robotics Competition. The acronym FIRST means For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology.

The games that challenge the competing robots are changed each year, so students must utilize creativity, logic, engineering skills and sheer ingenuity. Robotics is one fun way to implement STEM education in schools!

Check it out!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Two unusual water towers in North Park!

Strange to say, but one of the most iconic landmarks in San Diego’s North Park neighborhood is a gigantic water tower.

Even stranger, should you wander around North Park, you’ll discover not one water tower, but two! The one is absolutely enormous, but the other is much smaller–and in fact isn’t a genuine water tower at all!

I took photos of the mini-water tower several weeks back. Drivers coming down Interstate 805 might glimpse it by looking up as they pass north of El Cajon Boulevard. It’s located at the intersection of Meade Avenue and Boundary Street.

The smaller tower is actually an AT&T cell tower that was erected several years ago. North Park signs on the disguised antenna greet alert travelers coming in either direction down the freeway. I was surprised to find a small, somewhat neglected garden beside the unique cell tower.

The genuine, gigantic, historic North Park Water Tower is over 140 feet tall. It stands near North Park Community Park just south of El Cajon Boulevard and was built in 1924.

According to this article, there were claims that it was “largest elevated tank in the world” when constructed, and held more than one million gallons of water but now is decommissioned and empty since the 1990s.

Today the tall North Park Water Tower is an iconic landmark that can be seen from many city blocks in every direction. Its unique design and historical importance has been recognized by the American Society of Civil Engineers.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

The cool UC San Diego Solar Chill!

Here’s something cool that I discovered today during my walk through UC San Diego!

This tree-like, sculpture-like, raised solar panel thingy is called the UC San Diego Solar Chill. It stands next to Scholars Drive North directly across from the Rady School of Management building.

As you can see from the sign, Solar Chill was designed by UCSD students who call themselves Engineers for a Sustainable World. It’s an off-the-grid charging station that’s perfect for both stressed students and their electrical devices! Anyone can recharge while sitting on one of the nearby benches, and simply chill!

A great idea! Renewable solar energy, plus a sunny outdoor gathering place where students might set their phones and laptops down for a few minutes and perhaps talk eye to eye with each other!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Amazing walk up the historic Helix Flume Trail!

Breathtaking views and unique history can be enjoyed during a hike on the Helix Flume Trail in Lakeside.
Breathtaking views and unique history can be enjoyed during a hike on the Helix Flume Trail in Lakeside.

In 1889 a 35-mile long wooden water flume was completed that brought water from Lake Cuyamaca in San Diego’s East County into the rapidly growing city.

This morning I enjoyed an amazing walk up the historic Helix Flume Trail in Lakeside!

The moderately easy hiking trail begins at the old El Monte Pump Station, climbs a nearby hillside with a series of short steep switchbacks, then follows a short, mostly level section of the historic flume’s route. Information signs describe the construction and history of the engineering marvel, and hikers are able to see the entrance to one of the flume’s old tunnels!

As you will observe in the following photographs, the walk includes some fantastic vistas and natural beauty.

Come along with me and read the photo captions to learn much more…

Looking toward the trailhead of the historic Helix Flume Trail.
Looking past a large shady tree toward the trailhead of the historic Helix Flume Trail.

The old El Monte Pump Station is located next to the small parking lot by the trailhead to the Helix Flume Trail.
The old El Monte Pump Station is located next to a small parking lot by the trailhead to the Helix Flume Trail.

The El Monte Pump Station was originally built in 1898 to lift well water to the flume on the hillside using steam powered pumps.
The El Monte Pump Station was originally built in 1898 to lift well water to the flume on the hillside using steam powered pumps.

Photograph of the historic pump station in Lakeside, California.
Photograph includes huge pipes outside the historic pump station in Lakeside, California.

Plaque by door of El Monte Pump Station dated 1937, when a major overhaul was finally complete. Water was then pumped from the El Capitan Reservoir.
Plaque by door of El Monte Pump Station dated 1937, when a major overhaul was finally complete. Water was then pumped from the El Capitan Reservoir.

Heading toward the trailhead and some information signs concerning the flume.
Heading toward the trailhead and an information sign concerning the flume.

One of several signs along the trail that describe the construction and history of the famous water flume.
One of several signs along the trail that describe the construction and history of the famous water flume.

The blue line on this topographic map is where the flume water descended as it flowed west to the growing city of San Diego.
The blue line on this topographic map is where the flume water descended as it flowed west to the growing city of San Diego.

Photograph of the wooden water flume next to old Highway 80 in El Cajon Valley.
Photograph of the wooden water flume next to old Highway 80 in El Cajon Valley.

Diagram of cross section of wooden flume box from 1913.
Diagram of cross section of wooden flume box from 1913.

As I started up the trail, I looked back. The Helix Water District has a nearby lot with modern pipes and equipment.
As I started up the trail, I looked back toward the parking lot and its big tree. The Helix Water District has a nearby lot with modern pipes and equipment.

Heading up short but steep switchbacks, with rugged mountains in the distance.
Heading up short but steep switchbacks, with power lines overhead and rugged mountains in the distance.

Hikers must stay on the trail due to the historical importance of this area.
Hikers must stay on the trail due to the historical importance of this area.

Looking down toward the pump station and El Monte Road. An old pipeline that ascends from the station is visible in this photo.
Looking down toward the pump station and El Monte Road. An old rusty pipeline that ascends from the station is visible in this photo.

Climbing higher. Wear sturdy shoes if you go on this hike. If it's hot, bring plenty of water.
Climbing higher. Wear sturdy shoes if you go on this hike. If it’s hot, bring plenty of water.

I've gained more elevation on the switchbacks. The hillside is dotted with many prickly pears. That's Hanson Pond in the distance.
I’ve gained more elevation on the switchbacks. The hillside is dotted with many prickly pears. That’s Hanson Pond in the distance.

Higher we climb!
Higher we climb!

A fence conceals an old pipeline that ran from the El Monte Pump Station to the flume.
A fence conceals an old pipeline that ran from the El Monte Pump Station to the flume.

Interesting rock outcroppings.
Interesting rock outcroppings.

A beautiful view of the El Monte Valley below.
A beautiful view of the El Monte Valley below.

A better view of Hanson Pond.
A better view of Hanson Pond.

The climb is over. We approach another information sign where the old hillside pipeline terminates.
The climb is over. We approach another information sign where the old hillside pipeline terminates.

An amazing view of rocky mountains across the valley opens up here.
An amazing view of rocky mountains across the valley opens up here.

Sign describes the struggles to supply water. The open flume had troubles with massive leakage due to rot, and evaporation.
Sign describes the struggles to supply water. The open flume had troubles with massive leakage due to rot, and evaporation.

In 1915, a court ordered Ed Fletcher to repair the leaky flume. He lined it cheaply with asphalt roofing material using a rolling tar wagon.
In 1915, a court ordered Ed Fletcher to repair the leaky flume. He lined it cheaply with asphalt roofing material using a rolling tar wagon.

San Diego County Park Ranger shows a section of wooden flume pipe.
San Diego County Park Ranger shows a section of wooden flume pipe.

The open, wooden flume was eventually replaced with covered conduit and pipe. In 1962, the pump station began to send water to the newly created Lake Jennings.
The open, wooden flume was eventually replaced with covered conduit and pipe. In 1962, the pump station began to send water to the newly created Lake Jennings.

A flag flies near the information sign.
A flag flies near the information sign.

The trail continues along the flume's old route.
The trail continues along the flume’s old route.

Turning a corner, with rugged El Cajon Mountain (El Capitan) in the distance.
Turning a corner, with rugged El Cajon Mountain (El Capitan) in the distance.

Some natural beauty by the hiking trail.
Some natural beauty by the hiking trail.

This is mountain lion country. A sign describes what to do should you encounter one.
Entering mountain lion country. A sign describes what to do should you encounter one.

I spot a third information sign down below, at the end of a short path.
I spot another information sign down below, at the end of a short path.

A short distance from the sign is the entrance to the Monte Tunnel.
A short distance from the sign is the entrance to the Monte Tunnel.

The flume needed eight tunnels along its slowly descending route. The Monte Tunnel was the fifth tunnel from the flume's water source, Lake Cuyamaca.
The flume needed eight tunnels along its slowly descending route. The Monte Tunnel was the fifth tunnel from the flume’s original water source, Lake Cuyamaca.

Diagram on the sign shows the dimensions of each tunnel.
Diagram on the sign shows the dimensions of each tunnel.

The tunnel entrances had decorate facades of cut and mortared local granitic boulders.
The tunnel entrances had decorate facades of cut and mortared local granitic boulders.

The bottom 1887 photo shows construction of the seventh tunnel. Part of the eventually outdated tunnel system was destroyed by Navy SEALS for training.
The bottom 1887 photo shows construction of the seventh tunnel. Part of the eventually outdated tunnel system was destroyed by Navy SEALS for training.

The barred Monte Tunnel entrance photographed during my hike.
The barred Monte Tunnel entrance photographed during my hike.

I took this flash photograph into the tunnel. After the flash I heard a curious low noise, like that of an animal.
I took this flash photograph into the tunnel. After the flash I heard a curious low noise, like that of an animal.

A fourth sign can be found nearby, where the Helix Flume Trail connects with the Lake Jennings trail system.
Another information sign can be found nearby, where the Helix Flume Trail connects with the Lake Jennings trail system.

San Diego residents were thrilled at the flume's completion in 1889. There was a parade and a fountain of water. But it wasn't flume water. There was a blockage somewhere up the line!
San Diego residents were thrilled at the flume’s completion in 1889. There was a parade and a fountain of water. But it wasn’t flume water–it was well water! There was a blockage somewhere up the line!

San Diego's historic water flume was considered such an engineering triumph that it was featured on the cover of Scientific American.
San Diego’s historic water flume was considered such an engineering triumph that it was featured on the cover of Scientific American.

Today little remains of the flume. But the natural beauty of this area in San Diego's East County endures.
Today little remains of the flume. But the natural beauty of this area in San Diego’s East County endures.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Photos beneath I-805 bridge in Mission Valley.

Yesterday morning I jumped off the Green Line trolley at the Rio Vista station. I walked east over Qualcomm Way via the pedestrian bridge then continued down the little-used walkway that runs parallel to the trolley tracks.

I had never gone that way before.

The concrete walkway leads behind the Marriott Mission Valley and several large, gleaming office buildings and finally terminates by a parking lot directly beneath the very impressive I-805 freeway bridge.

I turned my camera upward and snapped photos beneath the tall landmark bridge!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

A 180 ton teddy bear made of boulders!

Here come a few astonishing photos!

Eight enormous boulders form a jaw-dropping 180 ton teddy bear in the Academic Courtyard at UC San Diego. It might look cute and cuddly, but try wrapping your arms around this public art!

Bear, part of UCSD’s fantastic Stuart Collection of art, was created by Tim Hawkinson in 2005. The immense stone sculpture seems to defy gravity as it sits limply on a patch of green grass between three buildings where engineering and technology are taught. According to one thing I read, the San Diego Supercomputer Center was used to design this incredible pile of rocks.

What is the good of science without imagination?

Perhaps an infant troll one day will stride onto campus to retrieve their lost toy. Or perhaps in the distant future, among the ruins of ancient buildings, perplexed scientists will discover Bear and conclude that a race of giants once inhabited our planet.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

San Diego students learn STEM through aviation!

Cool aircraft are displayed during an event at Gillespie Field by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force.
Cool aircraft are displayed during an event at Gillespie Field by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force.

Today I headed to Gillespie Field in El Cajon and checked out an Expo organized by Air Group One of the Commemorative Air Force. As I walked among all sorts of restored World War II aircraft and a wide variety of fascinating exhibits, I made a very cool discovery!

Students in San Diego are invited by Air Group One to participate in a special aviation-themed STEM educational program! The special program is designed for middle and high school aged youth. Ricardo Sevilla, the friendly A-STEM Educational Officer, walked over to introduce himself to me, and I learned a little bit about this truly amazing opportunity.

S.T.E.M subjects (science, technology, engineering, and math) can be taught to students in San Diego classrooms or at Air Group One’s super cool Gillespie Field headquarters, where there are a variety of potential hands-on activities. Topics that are featured include how to become a pilot, how to operate a drone, how to build a rocket, and the aerodynamics and design concepts that enable an airplane to fly. Potential careers in aviation and the aerospace industry are also introduced. Sounds like lots of fun!

Are you a teacher in San Diego who’d like to learn more? Wouldn’t your students be thrilled to visit an actual airfield? Check out this page of the Air Group One website!

Banner promotes Air Group One's Aviation Educational Programs.
Banner promotes Air Group One’s Aviation Educational Programs.

Air Group One's historic 1943 SNJ-5 "Sassy" on the tarmac at Gillespie Field.
Air Group One’s historic 1943 SNJ-5 “Sassy” on the tarmac at Gillespie Field.

Flyer describes an exciting ASTEM educational program offered by Air Group One.
Flyer describes an exciting ASTEM educational program offered by Air Group One.

If you're interested, use the email shown in this photograph.
If you’re interested, use the email shown in this photograph.

Learning about aviation can help a student take flight and discover new horizons!
Learning about aviation can help a student take flight and discover new horizons!

I’ll be blogging about today’s fantastic event at Gillespie Field as soon as I get my photographs together!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!