This weekend saw Maker Faire UK take over the Centre for Life. Exhibitors, creators, crafters, inventors and lots of cool stuff was on display. We sort of knew what to expect as we’d been to the Maker Faire two years ago and the kids loved it. Basically speaking if your kids like science, flashy lights, techy gadgets, drones, 3d printers then this is their heaven.
Maker Faire UK
The Maker Faire was on for the weekend of April 1st & 2nd 2017. As Catherine was in Scarborough for the weekend it was just Daddy daughter days. Which meant we just missed the family ticket. An adult and two children cost £26 for the day. It is worth noting that as Maker Faire takes over the Centre for life, most of the normal life things aren;t available. Which means your not going to get on the 4D ride or see their science show.
Big Bubble Man
We headed to Times Square before opening to make sure we got the most of our ticket. And from Central Station the kids had spotted bubbles spilling into the sky. As we turned the corner the Big Bubble Man was creating giant bubbles and millions of bubbles. It was mesmerising, as the light breeze carried them through the open space. Of course big bubbles to kids doesn’t mean fascination over their creation. It means “let’s see who can pop it first”.
The Kids with in the area were having great fun jumping and chasing the bubbles. Which was brilliant as we hadn’t even paid to get in yet!
Later in the day we caught up with the Big Bubble man and he showed us the secret recipe for his bubbles. I’ve promised to keep it under lock and key, but I will say it did contain Fairy liquid!
Robots seemed to feature quite a bit this year. There was a talk about animatronics being used in films through the years, which I wanted to go and see. Unfortunately the kids didn’t so I missed that one.
We spotted this huge Robot on display by Robotazia.
Which later on was moving around the Maker Faire.
We spotted Self Balancing Robots made from Lego.
Which is inspirational as all the components are easily available if you wanted to try it out. We were talking to the creator and he explained what was happening. Inside the body (which looks like an old Gameboy) there is a 3 axis gyroscope that sense which direction it is leaning. If it leans forwards the wheels move forward to correct it’s stance. If it leans backwards it moves the wheels backwards to correct its stance.
We watched it for about 5 minutes and it jittered back and forward like a reveller on too much caffeine! The theory is there and I assume with basic programming skills it would be replicable.
Robots that play Simon Says!
One exhibitor had a table display set up with 4 robots that played Simon Says. Imogen and Abigail gave the commands (via a touch screen pad). And the robots either followed the instructions perfectly or occasionally got them wrong. I was dubious as to getting robots to play Simon says as I felt they would never be wrong. One by one they eventually were caught out until there was one winner. It celebrated with a victor dance.
Also on the table was a strip of LED lights. By texting a colour (ie “RED”) to a number you could change the colour of the lights. If you texted a string of colours it would cycle through the colours and create a disco. It was a clever concept and the simplicity made in interesting.
Pick n Mix
The kids spotted the Pick n Mix Stall.
In a burst of excitement as though they’d found the meaning of life. The kids jumped across to the Pick n Mix stall. A self selected cone of sweets for £1.50 wasn’t too bad at all. I’m not sure of the science behind it, but it helped pick them up to continue on.
We visited the Centre for Life Earlier the year to see the North East Lego Landmarks exhibit. The exhibit had been relocated this weekend, but Steve Mayes was hosting a bridge building exhibit. The idea was to build a bridge to either hold the weight of a bus or allow a boat to pass underneath.
Our Bridge is supporting the Red London Double Decker. Steve is looking at the stability of the tall skinny bridge.
I had a chat with him about the North East Lego Landmarks and if he found it easy watching kids putting the lego together. Although I helped Imogen create our bridge, I couldn’t help pushing her in a certain direction. “If you do this it will be stronger” kind of moves. Surely as an expert Lego Model builder Steve was one step ahead of the bridge builders.
Each bridge was relocated to a display wall to allow the next bridge builders to join in.
There was a stall set up doing computer mods. Although this isn’t really my thing, I did love this Tron inspired computer. I won’t pretend to know what the components are, but there is blue lights there.
The Heart of Maker Faire
This exhibit was presented by Nustem. Imogen and Abigail loved it. The idea was that you created a piece of art or write a message from the heart. Crumple it up and put it in Jar. The computer system would allocate it a location on the lighting selves. You would record your heart rate and assign your heart’s BPM to the Jar, via a fancy box of tricks. The Jar was then placed on the shelf, accepted, then started beating. Each jar in the wall was flickering and flashing at different rates, as they were all set at personalised BPMs. We were given a QR code to be able to return later in the day and update our heart rates.
Visually it was impressive and technically it was very cool. If I knew how to build electronics I’d love to try something like this. As I don’t I’ll stick to blogging and jigsaws.
Maker Faire UK has been and gone, but I would keep an eye open for it next year at the Centre for Life. There is so much to see and so much innovation to experience. Little ideas can trigger inspiration in different ways and it’s certainly fired our kids up for our next project!