Saturday, October 1, 2011

World Maker Faire 2011

We went, we saw and we loved it! And I can't believe we almost didn't make it to the Faire. Our plans kept changing, but as I mentioned before, all's well that ends well. So here we were, in Queens, going to see... Actually, we weren't sure what we were going to see. Except we knew there would be robots there.

Sure thing, almost right at the entrance, there they were. And the best part was we could touch them, pick them up for a closer look and even play with them!!! Pretty awesome, right?
Most of them didn't resemble people, not even a little bit. So when M saw this little guy, he was practically jumping for joy.
But the fun didn't stop there. First, we came across AnnMarie Thomas' Squishy Circuits. And she was there her own self! A while ago we made a couple of circuits and played with them. We built a couple of circuits using just some LEDs and a motor. So while at AnnMarie's display we concentrated mostly on the motor and the buzzers. This was one of the busiest displays too. One of the things that I really liked was that the Squishy Circuits seemed to attract just as many girls as boys. Also, kids were very active and unafraid to try things. After all, most of them already had plenty of experience with playdough so this probably didn't seem like a whole new thing to them.
All in all, M got to play with quite a few toys and kits aimed at teaching kids the basics of electrical circuitry. The one that really stood out, IMHO, in addition to the Squishy Circuits, was this one above. Basically, it's just black conductive paint. This particular paint is specially formulated to be non-toxic and washable. So you paint with it, wait for the paint to dry, then hook up a battery to one end and an LED light or a buzzer or whatever, to another end. Or you could paint little (or big) wooden blocks with it, attach some mini-LEDs, mini-switches, etc and turn any block set into a circuit-building set. Pretty cool!

Over here on the picture the paint was used to draw pictures of musical instruments. Then kids could play music just by touching the pictures.
I was very happy to see Thinker Linkers at the Faire. M already played them at our local Maker Faire where he spent quite a long time building some very large and complicated structure. This time he was more interested in finding more robots. Still, he stopped by Thinker Linkers area and worked with Chris on assembling "a house for a robot". I really hope Marbles, our local kids museum, will add a huge mega set of Thinker Linkers to its collection of building toys! And if not Marbles, then maybe Durham's Life and Science Museum then even though it's a drive for us.
In the spirit of the Faire, we made not one, but two things - an LED throwie and this recyclables weaving craft. Guess which one took more time, more components and was more complicated?
 And while you're guessing things, guess who in our family has the biggest head. Oh, but before you fall of your chair laughing, I am much taller than this in real life... at least 3 inches taller. Ok, maybe 2 inches. Still...
This was just about the best part of the Faire. Or at least right up there with all the other awesomeness that was going on. You see, the Faire was happening at the New York Hall of Science and the ticket to a Faire included admission to NYHS. Let me just say, if you are looking for something kid-friendly and amazing to do in NYC, put this destination at the top of your must-do list. Just make sure to leave plenty of time to explore the place.

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