Making Things…

May 14th, 2008

A few weekends ago I went to the Maker Faire in San Mateo, CA. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but having been to Burning Man several times I think I was hoping for more fire. Lots more fire. What I did see was surprising and entertaining, but alas I left before dark and missed the fire. There were robots, bartending robots, battlebots, rockets, diy projects galore, a camera obscura tent, steam punk beauty, power tool races, and much, much more.

I went to the faire with a few friends (Colin, Kepi, and Marshall), and ran into many friends while there. It seemed like everyone I know had either brought something to the faire, or was there to see what everyone else had brought. And, I think everyone else who attended had the same idea. The place was packed. The parking lot was full by noon. It seems that the Maker Faire has hit upon a very successful model.

Interestingly, Marshall and I were talking recently about how there aren’t many festivals in the US that really make science fun and engaging to the public. Sure, there’s the occasional festival for smart kids in which they compete in various contests of engineering, science, or intelligence. But, what about festivals that just make doing things based in science fun for everyone? From what I saw, the Maker Faire does just that, bringing together scientists, engineers, artists, actors, and diy-ers from all walks of life.

My favorite moment had to be when a young girl who couldn’t have been more than 9 years old told me about the potential for carbon nanotubes in creating cable for a space elevator (all this while playing with the robot she had built and brought to the faire with her dad). Her dad informed me that she had recently completed a report on nanotubes for school. What school does she go to?!? Or, is just a matter of parental guidance? Either way, that young girl has a brilliant future ahead.

All around, I had a great time. Check out some of my pics from the day:

2 Responses to “Making Things…”

  1. John H Maloney on May 14, 2008 4:14 pm

    Sounds like you had a lot of fun. I’d love to go to Maker Faire some day. I just wish someone would start a version of it here on the east coast.

  2. Jamie Sundsbak on May 29, 2008 5:47 am

    I agree with your statement about there not being enough “inspirational” science events. Places like science fairs are great, but it just seems like every other science conference/poster session that we are forced to drag out butts to every year.

    We need something fun to inspire kids into science. I think that starts on the web. It’s an issue that we need to think about.

    People use the term “science and technology” almost as if the two are the same. Look at the science presence on the net vs. tech. It’s not even a drop in the bucket. We need to change that.

    Thanks for being a pioneer Dr. Kiki. Keep it up. If Maker Faire comes to Rochester, MN (lol) I’ll be there.

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