Thanks Bear Mountain Boats!

Last year we finished building our cedar strip canoe and took it out on several trips. Well, we had purchased the canoe kit from a company in Ontario, Canada called Bear Mountain Boats, and after watching the videos and reading the definitive guide to wooden canoes, Canoecraft, over and over, it was as if we almost knew Ted Moores and Joan Barrett, the partners who operate Bear Mountain Boats.

Matt Snell, one of the folks from Bear Mountain Boats, reached out and asked us if we could answer some questions about our build, and because it was in the middle of school, we had Dad answer them instead. The result was this fun article on their blog. Thanks BMB!

In “Life from Above” Book

Life from Above is the PBS name for the US version of BBC’s Earth from Space. In addition to the four part miniseries, they put together a book that contains all kinds of fascinating images gathered from satellites, the International Space Station, and our little launcher.

We are tickled to be part of the publication, and are looking forward to seeing the segment in Episode One of Life from Above, airing on PBS on October 23 at 10/9c.

Behold Earth as it’s never been seen before. Cameras in space tell stories of life on our planet from a brand-new perspective, revealing its incredible movements, colors, patterns and just how fast it’s changing.

Life from Above – PBS

Watch us on BBC’s Earth from Space

We are so grateful to Barny Revill and Katie Parsons from the BBC for setting up the opportunity for us to launch into the eclipse in 2017. Almost two years in the making, the series Earth from Space tells the stories of life on our planet from a brand new perspective, revealing new discoveries, incredible colours and patterns, and just how fast it is changing.

We are thrilled to be a part of this series, and to have our little project captured in such a memorable way. The BBC producers took film from drones, satellites, telescopes, the International Space Station, and our very own Loki Lego Launcher.

Click on the link below to watch the sequence.

BBC Presents: The flight of the Loki Lego Launcher

“With a simple idea, they’ve shown us that the view from space is within the grasp of everyone.”

BBC Earth from Space

Hear us on BBC Earth Podcast

We are very grateful to BBC Earth Podcast for interviewing us via Skype, and including us in their podcast entitled “A Different View.” BBC radio journalist and producer Emily Knight reached out to us and woke up at 5am(!) to interview us at 9pm our time. She had material from the Earth from Space series and put together a really cool segment for the BBC Earth Podcast.

It’s about six minutes long, and it includes bits from our recent interview and from the material captured by the BBC during our solar eclipse launch in 2017. It’s fun to listen to how excited we were during that launch (and how young we sound), and makes us even more excited to see the TV segment when it eventually comes out on PBS!

BBC Earth’s podcast is everything you’d expect – a blend of nature, science and human experience, with worldclass story telling and immersive soundscapes. We’ll also bring you insights and stories from the BBC’s crews as they make some of the most impactful television on the planet.

The BBC Earth Podcast is available on Apple Podcasts, Acast, Spotify, or you can just go to and scroll down to “A Different View.” Our segment is two stories in and starts around 6:30. But enjoy the whole podcast, it’s really cool!

Thank you Emily, and thank you BBC Earth!

Thank You BBC!

It’s been over a year and a half since the Loki Lego Launcher 3.0, but we have some wonderful news still left to share! During our time in Eastern Wyoming launch our spacecraft into the 2017 solar eclipse, we were being filmed by the BBC as part of a new four-part series called Earth from Space. Now, as the series is approaching release on BBC One next week and later on PBS, we’re able to share information about this show and how we were lucky to be a part of it.

“Cameras in space tell stories of life on our planet from a brand new perspective, revealing new discoveries, incredible colours and patterns, and just how fast it is changing.”


We launched the LLL 3.0 working with the Montana Space Grant Consortium in Wyoming, where they were also launching weather balloons into the eclipse. This collaboration was actually set up by the BBC’s Natural History Unit, who had found both our project and the MSGC’s as potential stories and brought us together to learn from each other. This led to us taking part in collecting data for NASA’s microbiology experiment, something we never could’ve imagined would be part of our launchers.

We filmed an interview near our campsite in Wyoming. It’s incredible how much hard work goes into what we see on our screens!

We’re super grateful to the series director Barny Revill and director Katie Parsons for their support of our projects and for creating this unique opportunity for us to learn from the experts. Our segment relating to the eclipse won’t be in the BBC version of the series, but it will appear in the PBS version, renamed “Life from Above”. As as we await the release here in America, the BBC has published a write-up we did that goes into more detail about the launch and what it was like to work as part of a larger team. You can check it out here! Our thanks to everybody working on this series for making such an amazing experience for us, and we look forward to watching this show!

The Tiny House is Done!

The Tiny House is finally complete!

At the beginning of this project, we had very little idea of some of the things needed to build a house. But we learned how to use various tools such as a compound miter saw, a circular saw, a multi-tool, and others, and the different techniques used at different stages of the construction project. We even learned a lot about basic tools, like tape measures, saws, speed squares, clamps and hammers.  Our hammering skills improved a lot throughout the project, practice definitely makes perfect!


We learned there are quite a few phases involved with building a house.  First we made the foundation of the floor and then we framed the walls.  We then wrapped the walls in a special plastic called house wrap that helps prevent water from getting in. We then put on siding, and framed the roof (Dad did that part). We put a special waterproof flashing on the corners and the house openings, and then we installed the windows and door. When we installed plywood sheathing on the roof, it was strong enough that we could stand on top of it to attach the waterproof tar paper and roof shingles. It was a pitched roof, so that the water will run off the edges; we installed metal drip edges for that. A few other dads helped us add insulation to the roof and walls, and we covered the walls with plywood. As an extra touch we decided to add interior trim around the windows to cover up the flashing. To finish everything off we painted the exterior and primed the interior of our house.

Another thing that we learned is how important the work unseen in the finished product is in building a house. We didn’t know how flashing helps waterproof a house or how to install insulation. We didn’t know what shingles looked like when they weren’t on a roof. Now knowing the effort and skill that it takes to build a house we’re even more grateful for our own.


Many friends and family came to help with the house, over 30 people over the past several weeks, which turned it into a big community project.  There were kids and adults alike, hammering away, measuring, cutting, sawing, and working together to create this house that a person can actually live in. I think that it is great that so many people wanted to help with the project and spend their time trying to help someone else. It was amazing when someone wanted to come back to help and we had several people return to help for three or four separate days.

Lessons Learned

Something that was cool about this project was how we could apply our lessons learned from the Loki Lego Launcher projects. From our first launch, one lesson was be willing to reconstruct. This definitely applied to building the tiny house, because there were times that we had worked hard on something but still did it wrong and it was crooked, or too long, or uneven, and we had to take it apart or scrap it and start all over again. I think remembering that lesson was very important as it kept us from being discouraged when we had to try something again.

Another lesson, this time from our second launch, was experience makes a difference. When we first started building the Tiny House, we could barely hammer. We bent the nails and hammered them in crooked and it was just a mess. By the time we were working on the interior plywood sheathing we could hammer a nail in in just a few strokes and it would (usually, not always) go in straight. This didn’t just apply to us, when other people came to help with the project and repeatedly came back to help, we watched them get better and better at not just hammering but efficiently working together to finish the house as fast and the best quality that we could manage. We were able to work a lot faster as the project went on because of our new experience.


One last lesson was from our third launch: Being part of a team. Having just our family working on the house would have been a lot slower, and frankly less fun. Having other people and kids working alongside us not only created a better house faster but made us excited about working on the project. We would take a water break with whoever was helping that day and talk enthusiastically about what we’d accomplished so far and what we still had to do. Having the team spirit at the end of a long build day was rewarding and encouraging and we all left with a feeling that “we did it together”. It was so cool to see other people working with us say that they wanted to try more of whatever we did that day.


We tracked the amount of time we spent on this project, because, well, data.  Overall, the Tiny House took us about 66 hours to complete. Some we worked with just our family, others we had large groups of people all contributing to the project. We had kids as young as six years old come to help us and heard them leave wanting to participate more.

tiny house hours charttiny house hours table

Next Steps

It was so cool to learn about the basics of what’s required to build a house, and to be able to put our energy into building something that we know will help someone regain their dignity and perhaps come off the streets. The completed house has been picked up from our driveway and has been moved to the Tiny House Village in South Lake Union, where we hope it will soon be occupied. When we look back on our project we won’t think about the splinters and sweat, but the satisfaction and skills that came from doing this project. Building our Tiny House was very meaningful to us as a way to help homeless people in our city, and it was such a positive experience that we’ll always remember.

Thank you to all the people who helped us with this project and to the Low Income Housing Institute (LIHI) for their amazing Tiny House program!


Visit at Vulcan Aerospace

Today we had a great opportunity to meet Esther Putman, one of the Brooke Owens Fellows. The Brooke Owens Fellowship Program is an amazing program providing internships and mentors for young women in the aerospace industry. One of the program’s founders, Cassie Lee, works at Vulcan Aerospace and she introduced us to Esther, who is currently interning there. We discovered that Esther had interned at the NASA Ames Research Center, and was part of a team working on the microbiology experiment that we had participated in during last year’s eclipse launch! It was really cool to talk with her about the project that we’d both worked on and to hear about how she worked on it as part of the research center.

We also talked to Cassie Lee and her colleague and learned about how they were using satellites to track illegal fishing boats and the health of coral reefs. It was interesting to hear about how we could use satellites in space to help with our problems on Earth.

This was similar to the company that Esther works at, Space Tango, which sends experiments into microgravity on the ISS. Their focus is using what they learn by experimenting in microgravity and applying it to helping people on Earth. We got to talk to Esther about what she gets to do working there and it sounds like a very exciting job. It was really interesting to hear about how the path she took to end up where she is now and she had great advice for us about perseverance. It was so incredible to be able to meet Esther and hear about her experiences!

We’re Going to Build a Tiny House

Living in Seattle, I see homeless people all around me, wrapped in tarps, sleeping on benches, or panhandling. I can’t even compare my privileges to theirs, and when I think about this, I feel grateful for all the things I have.
A year ago, a parent came to speak at my school about homelessness in Seattle. She goes around every year trying to do a count of all the homeless in Seattle. She told us a story of one woman that she met, whose company unexpectedly closed, (she and her husband both worked there) and they suddenly could no longer afford to rent a place in Seattle. This got me thinking, “What can I do to help?”

Screen Shot 2018-06-29 at 10.40.02 AM

Since then, I’ve been pondering this question, until we stumbled across the LIHI (Low Income Housing Institute) Tiny House villages. LIHI’s goal is to create tiny houses that homeless people can move into that will provide a stable, weatherproof shelter until they can move on to permanent housing.
The eight by twelve-foot house, is covered with a waterproof roof, has a door and a window, and insulated floors and walls. They are safe, sturdy houses that will protect individuals and families and give them a place to call home.
To me, this is a great idea, and although it’s not perfect, it’s a good temporary solution to the problem of homelessness and an excellent way to give homeless people a brighter future.
The main reason that I would like to build a tiny house is that I want to do something constructive for our community, something that will mean something to someone, something that will hopefully make someone smile. I hope to help someone get off the streets, and get a chance at success in life.
The tiny house villages will give people necessary hygiene facilities, access to utilities, and a friendly community. Although the cost of building materials not inexpensive, I think that the end result will be worth it. I’ll come back with new construction and woodworking skills, and the knowledge that I have helped someone find a safe place in a safe environment.
After hearing and reading about LIHI’s tiny house villages, whenever I see a person sleeping or asking for money on the streets, I think about the tiny houses, and the great impact that they’ve made, and will continue to make in the homeless community.

Link to LIHI’s website: