(Published on the Actuate blog on May 19, 2014.)
Have you recently wrestled with a Rubik’s Cube? Struggled to solder? Prototyped with a 3D printer? Deployed a drone? Then maybe I saw you at the Maker Faire this last weekend.
The Maker Faire is a spinoff event of O’Reilly’s Make magazine. A hybrid science fair/county fair, Maker Faire brings together thousands of hackers, builders, artists, cooks, gardeners, crafters, and others, all eager to strut their stuff and learn from each other in a spirit of open collaboration. There are 3D printers, Tesla coils, and crazy vehicles galore. And there’s stuff to gawk at, such as a 26-foot-tall fire-spouting metal octopus made of scrap metal, a drone battle zone, and a musical stage powered by listeners – the faster the audience pedals, the louder the music.
It’s a lot of fun, but the Maker Faire has a serious side, too: To encourage experimentation, creativity, and problem-solving. Many exhibits and activities are made for kids, and some of them are made by kids. My favorite of those featured 12-year-old Saurabh Narain, who has built a robot based on Lego Mindstorms EV3 Intelligent Brick that can solve a Rubik’s Cube in 30 moves and less than two minutes. You have to see it to believe it. But don’t feel bad about being bested by a ‘bot: Saurabh’s proud father admitted to me that he can’t solve the Rubik’s Cube either.
Maker Faire image by Fred Sandsmark.