Saturday, June 23, 2012

Going to the Maker Faire

Last week we went to our second Maker Faire NC (ok, so it's a mini-faire, but still cool). I dunno about you, but I love these things! 

So first, there was the take-apart station with all the different old printers and electronic gadgets and a bunch of basic tools (screwdrivers, wire cutters, etc) to take them apart. M immediately tried grabbing the big mallet, but I managed to stop him in time. Instead, we picked up screwdrivers and tried taking apart an old printer. It was tough! M's motivation was huge though - any parts you managed to pry off were yours to keep!
Next, we went to look at some robots, but they weren't doing much. Instead, we looked at the awesome guns and gadgets at the steam punk stand. So unbelievably cool! M lost interest pretty quickly since he couldn't touch anything there (I think he was still in the take-apart mode, so this was a big switch).
Thinker-Linkers were there again, but this time M didn't want to play with them. You see, now he can play with this building set every time we go to the Life and Science Museum. And since we go there early in the mornings on non-busy days, he sometimes has the entire set to himself. So at the Maker Faire he instead chose to concentrate on the Chaos Machine. Now, if you love marble runs, then you'd sure appreciate this monster one. And the kids are allowed to add to it! I saw it last year too, but didn't realize that it's actually sold as expandable kits. Now I'm thinking about buying the starter one (maybe a good New Year's gift?)
We also visited the STEM bus and they had this really cool display that showed what the inside of a fertilized egg looks like each day for 21 days (no real eggs, just plastic ones that could be taken apart). The last one had this cutest little chick in it! I think this is the kind of stuff that I personally can spend hours exploring (I found this set on Amazon and it's not at all expensive). M looked very interested as well... until someone mentioned that a near-space balloon was about to go up. 
And so we finished our trip to the Faire with the balloon launch. I can't say that it was exciting to watch all the prep work. But M seemed to be absolutely absorbed in it. And then the balloon went up (real fast) and we all waved and M was as happy as a clam about the whole deal. Which reminded him about this little place...

 ... the Life and Science Museum in Durham. We have a membership there this year. However, since our car is old and I'm scared it's going to break any day and the museum is quite far from us, we've only gone there 3 times this year. But I said ok and so the day after the Faire I took M to the museum. I've made a mistake of telling him in advance that we'd be stopping by the Scrap Exchange afterwards (if you've ever been to The Scrap Exchange, you know how exciting that place is for children and adults).
 So M spent about 2 hours at the museum, mostly going through every single items in the space exploration exhibit. I've just finished reading Mary Roach's hilarious and informative "Packing for Mars" and was able to re-tell him the parts of the book about space food (above) and space toilets (below, old versions).
The exciting thing is that it seems since last time we visited, the museum has acquired more space stuff from a private collection. For example, there was Buzz Aldrin's radiation meter and bags used for collecting lunar rocks. And there was a real honest to goodness lunar rock there too!

After this, M tried digging for fossils in the museum's Dinosaur Trail digging patch, but his mind was occupied with the treasures awaiting him at the Exchange. So he begged to go (that's a first) and said that "we have to leave at least something for another visit, Mama". Right he is. We'll go back once we return from NY because there's a new outdoor exhibit opening, called Into the Mist.

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