Maker Faire Visits NYC, R/GA Visits Maker Faire

This past weeked the Maker Faire visited NYC. Landing at the Hall of Science in Queens – an attraction that’s worth visiting the other 51 weekends of the year – this sprawling celebration of makers and the things they make filled my heart with geeky joy.

Looking for a giant iron fire breathing dragon that your kids can climb all over? They have one of those. Want to see a man dressed head to toe in a suit made from used up Metrocards? Yup. How about a demonstration from the Eepybird guys, famous for their choreographed Diet Coke and Mentos bonanzas. Or a giant sized version of a Rube Goldberg machine recreating the classic board game Mousetrap? Actually, they have both of those a couple of times a day.

Dubbed “the world’s largest DIY Festival”, the Maker Faire started in 2006 on the heels of Make Magazine and its mantra of “try this at home”. The Maker ethos argues that even though we’re surrounded by tech we don’t really connect with it – we’ve lost our love of tinkering.  Makers reverse that trend.  Stand back and enjoy some science.

There was way too much to absorb in one day, but even a random sampling of the events and booths highlighted some important points.

  • It’d be difficult to overestimate just how much of an impact Arduino has had on Maker culture.
  • Makerbots were around every corner.  The energy around 3-D printing was intense.
  • Lego Mindstorms will one day be recognized as the grandfather of Maker culture.
  • Making isn’t just for adults.  Some of the most amazing robotics demonstrations I saw were from high school robotics clubs.
  • Makers wouldn’t exist without Open Source.  Almost everything I saw was Open Source, from CNC furniture to extensible game consoles.
  • Soldering is the basis of many home projects, so teaching the public to do it for $1 was a brilliant move.
  • If you can dream it you can build it.

The NYC Maker Faire was a heartwarming, fun, and educational day spent shaking my head and asking not a few times, “That’s so cool.  How did you do that?”