This past weekend I ran the Let's Make Robots table and conducted robot making workshops at Maker Faire NY. If you've never gone to Maker Faire before, you are missing out. It is an incredible event for kids as well as their geekdads and geekmoms.
My two little ones were excited to join in on the fun. They even got to wear some official team shirts.
This is the second year I've attended Maker Faire, both years as a maker. That means I'm busy, busy, busy showing people what I brought, and have little time to see what's around. It's become a bit of a problem, because from what little I get to see, there is SO much to see!
Still, I find it very rewarding to show others a little bit about robotics, and to see that spark ignite in a young mind. This year was especially rewarding, because we had some financial support from PICAXE. The nice folks at PICAXE donated some of their microcontroller motor driver boards and some additional funding to help us run four robot making workshops.
Above you see my partner Chris from Rocket Brand Studios conducting a workshop on the first day. He was such an enthusiastic presenter that he lost his voice; I conducted both workshops the second day.
See that kid in the picture below with the big smile on his face? He's feeling proud. He should be, because he just built his first robot ever. All the kids got to take their robots home with them. They are fully programmable using the PICAXE BASIC language, which is pretty easy to learn.
We had a few educators and other adults attend the workshops as well. There was lots of interest in bringing projects like this one to schools, museums and other educational centers. There were also plenty of parents who participated to help along their kids, and occasionally other people's kids.
Another Let's Make Robots member who attended Maker Faire with her own exhibit is a young woman named Erin Kennedy. Erin is also known as RobotGrrl, and she is one of the most talented people I know.
She is interested in the concept of social robots, and all of Erin's award winning RoboBrrd creations are interactive and draw kids to them. She's someone who can inspire young people in a very quiet and unassuming way. Actually, she's quite inspiring to anyone of any age.
From my brief walks around Maker Faire, I know that there were hundreds of interesting projects going on. There's almost no way to see it all in two days.
So next fall, do yourself and your geekson or geekdaughter a favor. Put Maker Faire on your calendar and circle it in red ink.