Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Thinkers, Makers, Tinkers :: Maker Faire 2011

As a Young Makers Club, Love and Rockets was interested in everything at Maker Faire, not only SteamPunk fun and adventures, but all of the thinkers, makers, and tinkerers. We love S.T.E.A.M.M.: Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, Math, and Music!


We also love to support, promote, encourage, facilitate, and celebrate other thinkers, makers, and tinkerers.

Sometimes we show our love by trying something dangerous.
Well, not actually dangerous... more like bad tasting.

But Gever Tulley does make a very good point about our perceptions of danger and what we should and should not do. It seems we have grown so accustomed to rules of "safety" that we have neglected our curiosity, and our ability to learn how to safely manage dangerous activities. A consequence of this is that we miss opportunities to play, explore, and learn. Play is very important, and learning just happens to be one of the many happy side effects from frequent and unstructured play.

Gever, would you say "running" is a dangerous activity? My daughter was on a field trip, at a park, and the teachers and aids kept reminding the children: "Don't run! Remember children, no running!" Did you know that running on Tom Sawyer's Island at Disneyland is against the rules? I hear "don't run" everywhere! We are allowing an entire generation of children to grow up without skinned knees, but more prone than ever to heart disease and diabetes. Seems like the real danger is that we are not using our minds and bodies as they were designed... to reason, to work, to be challenged, to learn, to excel.

I am so glad Gever Tulley is around, to remind me, and others, that we can be daring. We can explore and be curious, we can test ideas. We can even get hurt, which is a learning opportunity. With precautions, with mentoring, with proper tools, and good sense about physics, cause and effect... it is possible to safely do dangerous things.

Maria loves tools. She helped me assemble an entire Ikea cabinet. And I am talking about really using the tools and being genuinely helpful.

If you want to build a ship, don't herd people together to collect wood
and don't assign them tasks and work, but rather teach them to long for
the endless immensity of the sea.

- Antoine de Saint-Exupery

It takes patience, a letting go of control and worries, to give a child real freedom... to let them discover and own that sense of longing for the endless immensity of the sea. Gever has a gift for being in the moment, and sharing the wonder of "what's going to happen... let's see!"

Maker Faire is full of people who are curious, who want to see what happens when forces and materials come together, when ideas are tested, when childhood dreams are made to come true.

I have had an igloo fascination ever since my kindergarten teacher taught me: "I is for igloo." And this teacher, Katy Arrillaga, is actually making igloos. Or as I dubbed it: Jugloos!

11:00 am... These are coming together with hot glue and labor.

3:21 pm... I did not stick around to see it get assembled. This is what it looked like when I saw it again, later the same day.

And this... this is Princess Leia.
I know, she looks Absolutely Small, and completely adorable. The Force is totally with her. for something absolutely cool. We are talking flame tube, or a Ruben's tube. I first heard of this idea from Grant, who suggested it as a Love and Rockets project to bring to Maker Faire... only he has some cool and secret improvements, which, Grant: Let's do this thing!

So, this young man, from Menlo School, was demonstrating his Ruben's tube, which has propane running through a closed tube, and a speaker attached at one end. The music makes the flames rise and fall with the... hold on, Make::Projects can explain this: "When you play a constant-frequency tone into the Flame Tube, it displays a perfect sine wave of fire. Play music, and the flames make a wild display caused by big, air-moving bass beats, standing waves from resonant frequencies, and other acoustic phenomena. It’s inspiring, fun to watch, and good for heating up your garage or workshop on a cold day."

I have something like this in mind for Fourth of July fireworks!

Are you getting the idea... that this post... could go on forever?
It could. Go. on. forever.
We were there only one day. And I will never run out of amazing stories, memories and inspiration taken from this one day. But for now, I will share just one more thinker-maker-tinker project... a hovercraft.

Plywood. Some material to create a skirt around the base. A folding chair. And... an electric leaf blower. All together, able to hover across the floor, carrying as much as four hundred pounds.

In this case... about fifty pounds of happy, daring , playing, thinking, tinkering fun.

Thank you, Hands On Science for bringing physics lessons to life, and for making a hovercraft to share at Maker Faire.

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Love and Rockets at Maker Faire 2011

We were at Maker Faire, Bay Area!
Geoff, Natalie, William, Alex, Max, Maria, Eli, Suki, Michal, Helen, Grant, Isaac, Hannah, Zoe, Kevin, Dannie, Sean, Steve, Rick, and Amy caught up with us for dinner!

I know, right? So many friends gathered together. It was a dream come true. When we went last year, I knew that I wanted to convince as many people as possible to join us at Maker Faire in 2011, because the experience must be shared. My second wish was to become involved, to participate: One year later and we succeeded in making two dreams come true... we brought friends, and we are Love and Rockets~Art of Engineering :: Makers Club!

As you might imagine, I took some pictures. Seriously, not as many as I would like to have taken, but I am OK... given the choice between playing or taking pictures, I am happy to have chosen to play.

Today's post will reflect happily on the joy that is SteamPunk, our artful engineering.

Natalie, Suki, Maria, William, Alex, Max, Eli, Isaac, and Grant came to Maker Faire in some retro-futuristic-airship-Edwardian-Wellsian-Vernian-Victorian attire and accoutrement. Thrifted, crafted, stitched, and glued... our ensembles reflect the art of dress, the play of every day, the incarnation of literature and fantasy that makes our creative reality.

The moment we stepped out of our Green Goose Airship our enjoyment began in earnest. It is impossible to not find something pleasurable at Maker Faire. Whether you want to engage in a discussion about physics, or simply apply the laws of physics to play... you will find a way to enjoy the day!

Except for food, and merchandise, once you get in everything is free. Pay your admission, step in, and participate... touch, engage, play, interact, sample! I can't think of many places where the expectation is that you will be an active participant, that you will (in the words of a friend) think, make, tinker! People there want to share what they made, what they are thinking about, and they are as curious to learn about your projects, your creations, and ideas.

The San Francisco museum, the Exploratorium is a wonderful example of the hands-on attitude toward learning. The museum of science, art and human perception is a collaborator with The Young Makers Program. They had a great booth at the Faire, including this musical bench, whose notes were made by the contact of the occupants with each other, the seat and arms of the bench.

So, where do you begin?

Arriving at the Faire, we were overwhelmed with opportunities, but consensus was pretty high...our first stop would be beneath the trees where other SteamPunks were gathering.

And as soon as we arrived, we found Crackitus Potts was preparing the H.U.G., a net propulsion device, in case of zombies...

Some zombies can be, with appropriate restraints applied, relied upon to do service for the LEAGUE, but first the zombie must be captured, restrained, then trained...

And what?! Baron Von Fogel has spied a zombie in our very midst...

When a zombie is spotted, Crackitus grabs the net propulsion device, and prepares to do battle...

Look out Zombie-boy!

Nothing can stop the super accuracy and efficiency of Crackitus Potts and his H.U.G.

My children have interesting desires, and this turns out to be a dream come true for Alex, who, on his way to Maker Faire, was discussing his hope to be recognized as a zombie and captured by LEAUGUE of S.T.E.A.M.

Maria enjoyed the demonstration, but she was looking for someone in the crowd. She was looking for R.O.S.E.. Maria met R.O.S.E. last year, then was crushed when she missed her chance to say good-by. Luckily, she and R.O.S.E. were able to exchange emails. Of course a lot of anticipation had been building since last year, and Maria could not wait to see her friend again. It seems R.O.S.E. has taken a break from her duties as a Reanimate Optimized Search Engine.

Maria went directly to the St. Claire Aeronauts, so she could pen her friend a love letter. The good Captain St. Claire and his generous crew were there, and they provided all of the supplies and encouragement necessary for writing letters, making envelopes, and delivering messages at the Faire.

Suki took pen in hand, and wrote to her own true love.

Maria filled the page with her message to R.O.S.E., including a garden of flowers, and lots of pretty stamps.

And then Captain St. Claire himself, taught Maria and Suki the art of envelope making. Thank you St. Caire Aeronauts!

Captured and trained, Alex is put into service right away. The net must be properly stowed, and reloaded into the H.U.G. You never know when uncivilized zombies will come around, or when there might be some monkey business... ever have trouble with phantom monkeys?!

Sir Conrad Wright III knows the importance of keeping equipment in good condition... safety too concerns him, and for his particular specialty he dons protective clothing around his neck.

With a device more futuristic than retro, Crackitus Potts and Baron Von Fogel are able to capture an image of Maria with her letter for R.O.S.E., instantly transdigiporting the message directly to R.O.S.E..

Hopefully R.O.S.E. got both the transdigiported image and Maria's actual love letter.

We certainly appreciate the sincere and gracious attention The LEAGUE of S.T.E.A.M. gave Maria, and she loves her special R.O.S.E. pin.

More friends arriving! Using my own futuristic hand held mobile device, I was keeping everyone posted on our movements, and that is how Isaac, Hannah, Zoe, Kevin and Dannie were able to track us down. Isaac came with his cousin, Hannah, and friend, Zoe. His own school project was on display at Maker Faire. Maybe he was writing to Grant about the CalSol UC Berkely Solar Vehicle. Kevin and Dannie rode over from Davis... it was looking a bit like a FIRST 2102 Team Paradox reunion!

Or maybe like a Sky Consortium Ball!

The LEAGUE of S.T.E.A.M. with Love and Rockets, this is a special occasion indeed.

With one hundred thousand people in attendance, it's no surprise it was a while before we caught up with Grant! Well worth the wait. Maria had more hugs to dispense than minutes in a day, and she made Suki and Grant solemnly vow that the three of them were buds for life!


Many of us met at Saphira, the fire breathing dragon from a Bay Area Young Makers Club. We were also introduced to a new Young Makers Club project, Fire Jam... more on that in a later post!

Twelve hours of amazing sights, artful attractions, and engineering marvels, and a lifetime of great memories. I think Max's favorite moment may have been the Arc Attack concert, when Alex shouted to the band a request for the theme from Doctor Who. An electrifying performance, best enjoyed in person.

Is it any wonder we spent the ten hour drive home talking about next year?