The Ann Arbor Mini Maker Faire took place this Saturday and it was so very freaking awesome that my armpits are still itchy from excitement*! There were Ooblek troughs (like this), space harps, soldering stations, copper butterflies, electric tractors, articulated bicycles, ferromagnetic microscopes, and lots of kids running around with robots! It was a feast for those curious about makery making-ness and the incredible things that ordinary people can do. The bar to entry to making things is low (and the event was free), and too many don’t seem to realize this. I find this unfortunate. The act of making is regarded as some sort of esoteric technical art, when really all it is is wrestling that hungry spark of an idea out of your ear and trasmuting it into reality. Sure, sometimes it is hard, sometimes it is frustrating and often we run into roadblocks that we require help to get around, but these are the very things that make the challenge so very satisfying in the end. The AAMMF provided excellent fuel for attendees’ creative powers, and I hope sincerely to see many of them returning next year as exhibitors.
All Hands Active intends to build a fort for our booth at the upcoming Detroit Maker Faire, and as a prototype we hauled out a large stack of cardboard and much tempera paint and let kids loose upon the engineering, completely open ended. Why did we do this? Because kids have absolutely no preconceived biases about how good design works, and their cognitive barrier for an idea to be more vivid and therefore more plausibly make-able is much lower than us stiff-minded adults. The children seemed to love it and spent many hours crafting something that quickly became a hybrid castle-spaceship, and they even built in features that kept us taller folk out. I couldn’t fit through the doors they constructed. I don’t mind, I had fun sitting and playing guitar while talking to curious parents and passerby about hackerspaces.
Parents, we did not let your kids use sharp tools, but we did let them eat paint.
Also! You remember that rumor revealed down below that we’re the friendlist hackerspace in the country? Well, I found out who started that rumor. And that person was there at the Mini-Maker Faire. So I punched him in the face** to dispel any truth that might be lurking in his nefarious rumors. I mean, he actually cackled–CACKLED!–when I confronted him about it. What else was I supposed to do?
*That’s normal, right?
**Although this was gentle, and only after giving him a hug. This may have decreased the effectiveness of the intended message.