More Cool Highlights From Maker Faire New York 2011


Gon KiRin, a 20-ft robot dragon jungle gym. Designed by Ryan Doyle & Teddy Lo. Photo by Bonnie Hulkower

The 2nd annual DIY festival Maker Faire took place last weekend at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. Celebrating "arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the DIY mindset," Maker Faire started out on the West Coast five years ago and is now a highly anticipated event for the NYC nerds, designers and science lovers.

There are now also smaller Maker Faires in England, Japan and Africa. For those who haven't been before, Maker Faire is a truly unique experience. It is part science expo, part local county fair, combined with a bit of a crafts bizarre, "how to" workshops and a touch of Burning Man. This was the scene last weekend at Maker Faire New York, a weekend celebration of homemade things, all of the craftspeople and builders are affectionately known as "makers."

Approximately 35,000 attendees flooded the halls and grounds of the New York Hall of Science. This museum was originally established as part of the 1964 World's Fair, and at the time was one of only a few science museums in existence. Today the New York Hall of Science is NYC's only interactive, hands-on science and tech museum.

Patti Robinson was at the 1964 World's Faire. Her project Time Warp Souvenir, played on the '64 theme, and included her son photographing people at the 2011 Maker Faire and mashing up the photo with a photo from the 1964 fair.


1964 World's Fair

The Hall of Science, which blends the past and the future, played well as a backdrop for Maker Faire. As one entered the Maker Faire grounds, there was a Steampunk section where people played old organs and there was a Museum of Interesting Things. There was also a young girl in period outfit and jaunty hat, demonstrating a slug-o-phone.

Slug-o-phone? In this case, the slug, which appeared to be a caterpillar, was slowing moving around and its movements were producing music. In the maker's own words, "the Slugophone is a versatile electronic instrument that converts resistance into tones via a 555 timer chip. Packaged in a snazzy case, it's fun to build and use: you can "play" a light beam, a plant, a friend - even a slug!"


Slug-o-phone photo by Bonnie Hulkower

Near the steampunkers, there was a section with some recycled and sustainability themes, including a solar powered merry-go-round. There were also some interesting vehicles, including a bio bus, solar-powered adult tricycles and an art car with synchronized singing lobsters, called the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir.


Solar-powered merry-go-round Photo by Bonnie Hulkower

After a delicious veggie dog from Asia dog, I made my way over to the Sustainability section, which was unfortunately situated in the back corner of the faire. In the sustainability section, people were showing me how to homebrew biodiesel.


Homebrew Biodiesel. Photo by Bonnie Hulkower

There was also a booth simply called, 596 Acres, an intriguing name. The project was named for the 596 acres of vacant public land in Brooklyn in April 2010. The project strives to make communities aware of the land resources around them and help residents to connect with the vacant lots in their lives. Much of the unused space is actually publicly owned and 596 acres helps residents by providing tools to help them negotiate interim and long term community uses for this public space. 596 Acres works to connect communities to the information they need to gain control of their environments.


596 Acres' Booth. Photo by Bonnie Hulkower

I left the faire feeling inspired by the community of innovative people not just showcasing their ideas but sharing and teaching them. These makers seem to live by the credo " we don't change the world by knowing, we change the world by making."

Maker Faire New York ended on September 18th. To find an upcoming event near you check out makerfaire.com
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