About Andy Forest
I have a talent for expressing myself with technology, and I love to foster that ability in others.
As a technologist and entrepreneur, I've built hundreds of solutions for clients. Machine learning algorithms, interactive electronic installations, educational games and websites. People come to me to build them something amazing.
This led to teaching at colleges in Toronto to help others build and participate in our increasingly digital world.
When I had kids, I realized that the education system was not adequately preparing them for this world. For 21st century digital citizens, rote learning needed to be replaced with creativity, critical thinking, communication and collaboration.
My passion and purpose became to nurture these skills first in my kids, and then the world's kids. My medium for this is science and technology.
As an early pioneer in connected learning, I have been given many awards and invited to speak at many events around the world.
My Latest Projects
Ontario Science Centre Inventorium
Kevin von Appen, Director, Science Communication, Ontario Science Centre:
"It has been my privilege to work closely with Andy and his team at SteamLabs as partners since 2017 on a transformational initiative at the Ontario Science Centre called Inventorium.
Andy’s unique perspective – developed through his ground breaking work in Toronto with SteamLabs and his international network of contacts – has helped empower our visitors to become collaborative co-creators, expressing themselves in new ways using emerging maker tools, technologies and approaches that range from robot crafting tables to coding workshops.
On a deeper level, our partnership has helped inform the Science Centre’s new strategic plan and our commitment to become a community hub to foster collaborative experiences, 21st century learning skills and youth innovation. Andy was interviewed extensively by the team developing that plan and we continue to draw on his expertise and vision as we evolve. "
Berlitz Virtual Classroom
Berlitz is well known for facilitating language instruction around the world with 547 locations in more than 70 countries.
They came to Andy with a challenge - build an online classroom capable of matching thousands of students per day with the perfect instructors chosen just for them from their huge global workforce. In addition to being the system architect, Andy built the machine learning algorithms in the scheduling engine to perform these matches. More than a decade later, this system has scaled with Berlitz's business, reliably managing thousands of online lessons every day.
The open source Power System activity is designed to help teachers bring high tech making into the classroom. This is a multi-day activity, and consists of building a physical model of Ontario's electricity system together! It has models of each kind of electricity generation type: nuclear, wind, hydro-electric, etc.
Electric motors are added to the model power generation plants to show rotating wind turbines, hydroelectric generator turbines and anything else the kids come up with.
In addition, the physical model is interactive, with a web page acting as a remote control. This web page pulls power generation data from Ontario's power producers to show a live chart of how our power is being generated. Buttons allow the user to browse previous days' power generation data to see how this changes over time.
Robot Crafting Table
Try your hand at coding at the STEAMLabs Robot Crafting Table! Learn the coding language used by the robot and instruct it to assemble raw materials into the correct recipe. With its electromagnetic arm, the real life robot will then place 3D printed materials into position on the crafting table and display the item that you made! The coding tasks increase in complexity culminating in the ultimate challenge of creating a diamond pickaxe.
This interactive installation has been exhibited at the Toronto International Film Festival's digiplayspace and at the Ontario Science Centre. Contact me for exhibiting any of my installations.
This is an open-source project, with the source code available so you can build your own!
Example of the coding and the robot in action:
Steamlabs is an education innovation non-profit that gives all people equitable access to practical science and technology training and tools to foster understanding, critical thinking and collaboration to solve problems, improve their communities and make the world a better place. Steamlabs mentors children, teens, adults, professionals and others at makerspaces across Toronto.
Seeing a lack of strong science and technology education options, Andy and Marianne Mader formed steamlabs in their garage to teach their own children and their friends.
From this humble beginning, steamlabs has grown to offer programs throughout the city of Toronto and offer educator training across Canada and around the world.
Steamlabs operates summer camps, after school and weekend programs. By partnering with science centres in Canada, the USA and Norway, steamlabs has developed new approaches to science and technology engagement, such as creating makerspace programs, building computational thinking installations, educator training, co-creating entire exhibitions and more.
Maker Ed is a US non-profit organization that provides educators and institutions with the training, resources, and community of support they need to create engaging, inclusive, and motivating learning experiences through maker education. Andy is a part of their working group to develop a Youth Makerspace Playbook. It starts with the maker education philosophy, and goes in to designing places and activities to support this.