This weekend I made the trek to New York City so I could go to World Maker Faire. I haven’t been since 2014, so this was pretty exciting! After the disappointment of the featured speakers last time I went, I admit I avoided attending or even really looking into the staged events (with a single exception I’ll mention below).
Even without trying to attend speaker sessions, there was plenty to see and get excited about–and plenty of people there to to get excited about them. It definitely felt more crowded this year than it did two years ago, despite the rain clouds looming over us and the ridiculous amounts of mud everyone was tramping through. Here are some of my favorite things that I saw while I fought my way through the crowds:
- Mario the Maker Magician
The friend with whom I went to Maker Faire insisted we needed to catch Mario the Magician’s show despite my hesitance to attend any of the scheduled events, and it was a good call. Mario makes his own props, including a robotic monkey he interacts with among many other things. It was hard to see everything that was going on in his show–he was performing on ground level with a very involved crowd clustered around him–but there were a *lot* of very happy kids at the front of that crowd, and what I was able to see was impressive. Plus, what’s not to love about linking making to magic?
- Paper Roller Coasters
These just looked fun. Roller coasters! Made from paper! I love activities that don’t involve expensive materials, and what physics class could be complete without building some kind of roller coaster? I also feel like this could be a fun activity for a themed event. Have everyone add their own bit, and at the end we try to run a marble down it.
These makers rigged up actual pianos as controllers for old-school video games. Two people could face off in something I think was Street Fighter, playing notes on the piano to control their characters. I didn’t get to try this out because the line was too long, but it looked (and sounded) seriously fun.
There are a lot of robotics kits out there, it’s true. These particular kits are programmed using a derivative of Scratch, and they looked fun, well-made, and durable. The coolest-looking of all was the Airblock, which they’re going to be Kickstarting soon. I don’t think I’ve seen a drone before that can be assembled with magnets and then controlled with a programming language designed for beginners. Want.
Maze lets you build a physical maze and take a picture of it with your phone, whereupon it turns into a virtual reality maze you can go through and/or add hazards and traps to it. So there’s the physical maze, an app, a virtual-reality headset, and some headphones. The headset and headphones come in kits meant to help kids customize their appearance to their own taste. I want Maze for myself!
teknikio had several very fun-looking kits on sale–a sew circuits kit, an origami kit with a motor and LEDs, and a kit meant to help you build things like cardboard houses whose lights go on when you open the door. My friend and I actually ended up buying the “Activating Origami” kit to play with ourselves. Here’s what came in our kit:
The directions that came with the kit were for folding an origami penguin, and attaching the motor to it so it would “walk.” We decided to make a dragonfly instead, and had a lovely afternoon folding the origami and figuring out the best way to attach the batter and motor to it. We did also try to give it LED eyes, but the end result was creepy enough that we opted to take those off and go back to a dragonfly that just buzzed its way around the table. Unfortunately my phone battery died and I don’t have photos, so you’ll just have to imagine it for yourself!
Have you made it to a Maker Faire this year? What caught your eye? Leave a comment, or tweet @makerbridge. I’d love to hear what you saw!