Thursday, October 8, 2015

San Diego Maker Faire :: Day Two

Day one was outdoors, beneath a blue sky, and it was awesome. Day two started with lots of rain, and called for a completely new plan, and being makers we rolled with that, and it was awesome, too. Check it out!

It was a bit confused and hectic when we learned we would have to move from our outdoor space, but I think I found my second wind, a renewed joy, when I ran into Darrahl. Darrahl, and his wife, Bobbie, are family. Yeah, that about covers it. They are FIRST mentors for our favorite FRC team, FIRST 2102 Team Paradox. They are fun-loving, generous, personal friends, who have joined us for many special occasions, and life events. Knowing them... finding them in the crowd, it's comforting, reassuring, uplifting: Good!

In fact, all day we had the pleasure of seeing yellow on top, red on the bottom, and Paradox all over! There are a lot of new faces on this team, naturally, but one thing hasn't changed... FIRST 2102 Team Paradox is still a winning, gracious, spirited robotics team, with great young people and great mentors. FIRST and Maker Faire go well together!

With help from Kent, from the Maker Zone & Battle Pond, and after meeting Dan, of Open Source Maker Lab, we got space in the Hall of Champions, and more passes for our BOoM team. We even dared to squeeze in Mech-Cthulu, our popular Giant Robotic Tentacle.

I freely admit, these aren't "technically" the best pictures, but what they recall, what they illustrate is wonderful. For outreach, for connecting, for sharing our passion for STEAM education, and the joy robots can bring, these pictures are perfect!

Just {barely} enough room for Mech-Cthulu. Eventually, Geoff added a pool noodle head, because we were determined to not draw blood, or give out free concussions.

Plenty of space for Da Vinci.

The look on Geoff's face. I think his labor is of love.

Today, we had even more help, with Janece and Paul available to help us set up, and demonstrate, plus James and Celine agreeing to help us pack and leave at the end of the day. And we also got fed, when Ruth and Holly arrived with a picnic feast. Dividing the time up a bit, getting some breaks, was a nice difference. Alex and Max were even able to get home to take care of homework demands.

I took advantage of some free time to learn how to solder my very own blinking Makey Robot, with some guidance from a San Diego charter school. {Regrettably, I am not finding that school's name. If anyone can help... thank you!}

I was assured that with a finer tipped soldering tool, my Makey Robot could look a lot less wonky. Still, I am really pleased with my first solo run at soldering.

More friends! Even more friends found us this day, than the first, and it was a lot of fun seeing them, especially when we could introduce our friends to other friends. So, Ido and Leslie got to meet Michelle. It makes me happy when people I admire get to know other people I admire, and I like to think how much this does to make our community better.

There were constantly new moments to enjoy, like when I would see familiar faces, like Steve and Geoff talking, and Janece and Paul keeping Mech-Cthulu operating, and Maria engaged with visitors. Some of it is a blur, and that makes me happy to have these pictures.

The pictures... the faces! Good things were going on, things worth remembering!

We were having fun. It shows. Being connected to wonder, to learning, to sharing new experiences is exhilarating.

Like the day before, we had a child ask whether Da Vinci could make custom art, and we said "Yes." We are poorly equipped to let people use Inkscape on our laptop, but we love trying, and so this young lady drew a fish, and Da Vinci, followed her lead to illustrate her art.

How this is accomplished is explained in this link, from our first day at San Diego Maker Faire.

Making at Maker Faire!

William went out on a long, extended excursion. San Diego Maker Fair was all over Balboa Park, including inside ten museums! He returned with some old friends, Eli and Jessica.

Then we were visited by more familiar faces, namely the Paradox mascot, and Austin!

This was a sweet Maker's moment for me, seeing that costume, that I made almost five years ago! What ever possessed me to try and make a customized, original mascot costume of a Parrot + Ox... I'll never know, but props to me, because it's still holding together!

Having as many of our BOoM team on hand to lend a hand was critical, as new visitors were constantly streaming through. It takes a lot to pack, haul, unpack, set-up, demonstrate, and do maintenance, then pack, haul and load, again. Thank goodness for our crew this day: Geoff, Paul, Janece, Alex, Max, William, Maria, Amira, Celine, and James.

The work and effort are so rewarding!

Especially when our friends share in the fun! We were thrilled to see Gwen, and Sandy at Maker Faire.

At least a few parts in our robots came from stops at Surplus Depot. A store like their's is an indispensable resource for any Maker!

Here is a league of extraordinary gentlemen.

June has the controller.

June has the power.

Makers, coders, artists, musicians, inventors, tinkerers, people who play, people who are curious, who ask how? and why?... these are the future, the hope, the best of our country, our world. The cool thing is, at Maker Faire, they aren't waiting to start. The future is now.

Maria was proud to share her knowledge of Da Vinci with her teacher, June.

We are fortunate... because not only are we interested in learning, in tinkering and playing, but we have access to resources, we care to invest our time and energy in the Maker movement. What we want is for our government, private industry, and interested individuals to notice STEAM education, to fund it, support it, reinstate it, open doors, and listen to young people, we want people to care about their interests in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Music and Math.

It's more than text books, it's better than standardized tests... STEAM education, hands on learning, engagement and broad support for young people to learn how things work, to play with gears and paint, to build what they imagine, is the best education, the best investment, our country can make.

I believe in supporting young people, in rewarding innovation, in crossing borders, reaching out to all, educating everyone by many means. Growing up, I became disillusioned with the saying "the children are our future." I understand its sentiment, that children matter, that down the road they will be our leaders etc, but it strikes me as an empty gesture, a deferral of respect and investment for a later time. I believe children need, and deserve, to be respected now. Good schools now. Metal shops, art programs, science labs, coding classes, cooking classes, dance, yoga, woodworking, film-making, music: Now!

Probably, as a parent of young people, I feel keenly about supporting education and the Maker Movement for children especially, but I think my passion for STEAM extends beyond childhood, because I see the value of a network of mentors, teachers, coaches, and students, of all ages, engaged and interacting for a greater good. We have as much to learn from retired and skilled people, as students coming out of colleges. Grade school children, too, have to know that we aren't cutting their art, defunding their science, putting off for another day any of the support, faith, or resources that they need now to believe in their future, our future. Collectively, government with citizens, corporations with community, families with schools... experienced, young, novices, amateurs, experts, we must interact, and engage, and build this future now.

The future will be great, if we make the world the best it can be, today, and I think Maker Faire demonstrates how rewarding, how hopeful, how fun, today and tomorrow can be.

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