Saturday, June 18, 2011

Maker Faire NC 2011

It happened, it finally happened! Something I've been waiting for since last year - the Maker Faire NC! Ok, so what it was just a 1-day mini-Faire. It was still absolutely amazing. Besides, now I know what to prepare for when we go to the big HUMONGOUS Faire in NY in September.

There was so much going on at the Faire that it's hard now to write about it in a coherent way. I tried taking pictures, but lots of times it just didn't happen because I was either busy having fun or there were just too many people around hustling and bustling.

To M's great delight there were LOTS and LOTS of robots. In fact, the very first thing that we did was to watch robots play hockey (M is the blond shortstop in the middle of the row of spectators). Actually, Chris and M watched and I took an opportunity to learn a bit about tatting (something I overheard the other day on NPR).

Then we walked around a bit and M got to try a sewing machine. He said he liked it, but at that point he wasn't much at ease with the whole experience, so I'm not sure if he really did or not.

Fairs and festivals like this are pretty hard for M to get through. He gets overloaded with all the sights, sounds and movements of hundreds of people. So he withdraws, shoulders raised and voice very-very quiet until he finds something so interesting that he gets fully absorbed in the process, forgetting about the discomfort and the overwhelm.

This time around M started to warm up weave a rope and keep it too! He was so happy and proud and made sure to impress it on us that he was going to use the rope in all sorts of construction projects.

But what truly changed the whole Faire experience for him was the Thinker Linkers. He stayed there for a while, building with the linking boards.

It was really a very cool thing. He still has some fine motor problems and playing with Legos (even Duplos) can be a very frustrating experience. Smaller or smooth surfaced blocks present a different problem as he has a hard time lining them up just right to make the entire structure stable. So I was a bit apprehensive. But never fear! M did need just a bit of help at first, but once he really got into it, he was doing just fine.

And he stayed with the Thinker Linkers for quite a while, at least half an hour if not longer. Eventually another, older, boy joined him and then the boy's dad. In the end, they built a "superstructure" as M referred to it. And then the rope came out and M tried to weave it through the structure and make it do something that only he knew.

Other notable finds included a real Star Wars light saber, a display of rockets (yep, M is still heavily into rockets and a trip to a hobby store isn't too far in the future) and a giant marble run.

If I had to narrow my list of Maker Faire "Wow"s to just 3, these would be Thinker Linkers ('cause M did so amazingly well with them), a huge marble run ('cause I love marble runs and Rube Goldberg machines and dream of one day creating a giant one to go all around M's room and then downstairs into the kitchen) and a Feltronics board ('cause ever since our experiment with Squishy Circuits I've been looking for similar preschooler-friendly ideas).

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