Sunday, May 27, 2012

Maker Faire Bay Area 2012

"Make what you desire. Make what you have to make. Make what you can't not make, because it will make the world a better place." ~Adam Savage 
It's hard to believe that a full week has passed since Maker Faire already. That means only 51 weeks until the next one.

Possibly the best part of exhibiting is being able to see the Maker Faire being set up on Saturday morning.  My phone snapshot hardly captures the sense of Expo Hall coming to life, but it was in stark contrast to the crowded, bustling lineup of booths just a couple hours later.
The trolley, now with pedal power and painted blue, was unloaded.
And we were free to walk around the fair for the day.

It's near impossible to explain Maker Faire to someone who hasn't been there. There is truly a little bit of something for everyone: anything that fits under the umbrella of creative life has a place here: robots and vehicles, food and sustainability, costuming and gemstones. This year there seemed to be a special focus on education and developing the natural maker sensibilities of young people. Dale Dougherty spoke on several occasions about this idea, particularly in regard to his launch of the Maker Education Initiative.
There were several talks going on at any one time, so that even if all one did was visit speakers, it was impossible to hear everything (not to mention that many of the venues were packed). Fortunately, several talks were filmed and can be seen here.

3D printers were also noticeably in abundance this year.
Perhaps the most impressive sight this year was the gigantic firebreathing dragon bus called Gon Kirin.
Our group's exhibit slot was at 6pm, just as the fair was winding down. For better or worse, this meant that fewer visitors stopped by. But all the kids got to talk to a few people about their projects and how they were made.
photo by Laurie Becker
photo by Laurie Becker
photo by Laurie Becker
On our way out, we all picked up this special summer edition of Make (in 3D!) aimed at Young Makers.
Do we have plans for summer fun? You bet we do.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Maker Faire Here We Come

Another year, another Maker Faire. We gathered on Tuesday night to show the projects, practice talking about them, and to celebrate the kids' vision, creativity and persistence. All of them started with one idea and switched to another. All of them made modifications along the way. All of them ran into snags which needed troubleshooting, analysis and rethinking.

The five projects going this year are the work of 6 kids who went through the long, sometimes frustrating process of seeing an idea to completion.They woke early once a month to make the long drive to the Exploratorium. They scoured the internet and searched out mentorship. This is an amazing group of young people.
Matthew built a Minecraft creeper from specially-selected Lego parts, then decided he wanted it to do something. He built a speaker from some wire, an amplifier, and a Dixie cup, installed it in the head, and attached it all to an mp3 file of music from the game—which he made a point of securing permission to use. As a final touch, his sister painted his iPod green and added a creeper face. I wish I'd gotten a picture of it.
Ken and his dad Doug are working on a pedal-powered trolley with a wooden frame, the bottom bracket and extra gears from a bicycle, and flanged wheels which will eventually fit on a track. Even on a dolly and with a milk crate for a seat, the trolley was a hit going up and down the big warehouse aisles.

Sebastian's project is an arduino-based light box which plays in pattern to midi files. He had been thinking about lights hooked up to his bass, then ultimately decided he didn't want to transport his instrument to and from the Maker Faire so altered the project to be more portable.
We have all enjoyed seeing Leo and Drew's claymore project evolve from a mousetrap-based catapult to a rat trap, to a claymore with motion sensor response and a camouflage paint job. The parts were all found at the hardware store, with the exception of the motion sensor—repurposed from an air freshener unit.

Our other Young Maker was not present at the meeting, but John is making a full headmask of his World of Warcraft character. We look forward to seeing it this weekend.

If you are going to Bay Area Maker Faire 2012, please stop by the Young Makers area. Our group will be exhibiting Saturday evening, but Young Makers from up and down the west coast will be showing projects all weekend long.

Here's to all young makers!