I’ve been hearing about the Maker Movement, a movement of DIY-ers making really cool things, like 3D printers, kits for enthusiasts to create their own gadgets, and even personal drones, for almost two years. When I heard that the third annual Maker Faire was going to held at the New York Hall of Science in Flushing Meadows–Corona Park on September 29 – 30, I immediately bought a ticket. I needed to finally see what this whole “maker thing” was all about, and let me tell you…it most definitely did not disappoint.
Part science fair, part county fair maker and part awesome, maker faires are a gathering of “makers” of all ages; tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors; who want to show what they’ve made and learned. So what kind of things did I see?
Inside the Hall of Science there were countless exhibits and demos that showcased wearable tech, kinetic sculptures and LEDs, light and projection art. In the Great Hall, I was lucky enough to catch a performance by The Lumiphonic Creature Choir, a multimedia performance by Synarcade Audio-Visuals, an innovative multimedia company focusing on new forms of film, music and performance from AUSTRALIA! The Lumiphonic Creature Choir performance featured a group of musicians interacting and playing live with a giant twelve-headed audio-visual creature. In between shows, curious audience members were able to walk up the control panel and show their stuff.
Before exiting the museum to check out the grounds, I also caught sight of Stan Munro’s Toothpick World. Mr. Munro uses toothpicks, Elmer’s glue and lots of time and patience to construct 1 to 164 ratio scale models of famous buildings, such as the Eiffel Tower, Petronas Twin Towers and NYC’s very own Empire State Building.
On the grounds of the museum, the largest scale project was the Life Size Game of Mousetrap, a 25 ton Rube Goldberg machine, which encourages audience members to participate in the action by lifting up a two ton safe, which is dropped on a car as part of the machine’s finale.
One of the biggest draws to the Faire was the 3D Printer Pavilion. Instead of using ink or toner to print on paper, 3D printers use plastic filament on spools to build layers of material to produce a 3D object. A lot has been written about the potential for desktop 3D printers and open source methods to transform the manufacturing process by moving away from the traditional factory context and into the home. The Pavilion featured demos of the Replicator 2 by MakerBot, printers by Solidoodle (both Brooklyn-based companies) and the Series 1 by Type A Machines. In case you don’t want to make the plunge into purchasing your very 3D printer, Shapeways is another NYC based company, that allows users to produce 3D creations in a variety of materials.
In New York, we know space is at a premium and most people claim to live in the tiniest apartment but we think we found the tiniest living space of them all, the Whittled Down Caravan! The wagon was constructed on a 4×8’ utility trailer and used for a cross country roadtrip from Santa Fe, NM to Western Massachusetts by it’s makers, Libby Reinish and Tristan Chambers.
All in all, not bad for my first trip to the New York Maker Faire. Nope, not bad at all.
Did you check out the Maker Faire this year? Did you like what you saw? Or, if you missed it this year, check out some Moments from the Presentation Stages and mark your calendar for next year’s Maker Faire!