Audtra

Euphoria at the World Maker Faire

Audtra

Having another existential crisis? Seeking inspiration during a slow year (or life)? Peek inside the thrilling escape of the World Maker Fare at the New York Hall of Science, home of the 1964 World's Fair (featured in Disney's Tomorrowland). Maker Media launched Make: magazine in 2005 and the Maker Faire in 2006. The event grew from the Bay Area to a global series of fairs, expanding to New York in 2010. The New York event holds distinction as the World Maker Faire, with an occasional, New York suffix, because, why not?

If the New York Hall of Science were in Manhattan instead of Queens, there would be less financiers and more innovators (kidding, the former makes the latter go 'round). I died of happiness navigating the way to my table. Sisyphus was the first attraction indoors. In Greek mythology, this was a man condemned to shoulder a boulder up a mountainside for eternity. Revived as an art robot, this kinetic art table featured a steel ball rolling “through sand, building intricate dune patterns, only to see them destroyed and built anew.” It raised nearly $2M on Kickstarter in a month-long campaign. 

One of the Zone 1 managers explained all other zones were outside in the rain, and we were the lucky ones. Fortunately, it didn’t rain on the actual fair days, and hundreds joined the fun (or 95,000 if you listen to Scientific American). Maker QR scans pinpointed table locations on the map in the Maker Faire app. Indoor tables included BOSEbuild’s speaker cubes, Square Off’s Harry Potter-style wizard’s chess (who went to CES), VR exhibits, 3D scanners, SeeMeCNC’s oversized 3D printer, NeuroTechX’s group, a constellation-finding umbrella (by a maker traveling from Dublin), and others. A guy under the stairs showed hardware reconfigurations, including a mini monitor like Apple IIe and III computers I hadn’t seen since the 90s (finally old enough to say that, which means, it’s all downhill from 24).

Outdoor tables included NASA, Google (thanks for the goggles, for a future, coolest kid in the lab), Intel, Microsoft, RadioShack, Raspberry Pi, startups including iBand+ (similar to iWinks’ lucid dreaming wearable), drones, robots (that talk to each other on Twitter, with human input), Maine Ghostbusters, and indie STEM, art, music, and food creators. I met one of the smartest nine-year-olds, who blogs about her robotics activities on Rosie’s Robots as another sassy girl in STEM.

After WMF’s traditional Maker Happy Hour, award-winning Gerard’s Paella Dinner, and Treats Truck, Uber sponsored a pool with another maker to Queens the next morning. We discussed the upcoming South by South Lawn since he came all the way from DC, and Mini Maker Faire at New York Barnes & Nobles since I came all the way from space.

There were infinite enthusiasts and an interested neurocognition teacher, along with some weird teenagers, crazy men, and strange dream sharing. The Queen’s Kickshaw catered quiche, eggs on avocado toast, fruit, and gallons of coffee for the Makers of Change Breakfast on the final day. I didn’t have time to eat, visit the Maker Lounge, or indulge in all of the exhibits for experiential photos.

At one point, I thought someone was writing their information down, but it was a crew member writing on the back of my Editor’s Choice blue ribbon. Then, I won another one. The crew was really blue ribbon-happy. Several won more, plus, Best in Class ribbons, and Sisyphus won (a well-deserved) eleven ribbons. Records are on MakerFaire.com/ribbons.

The occasion was a dream for fans of Tomorrowland or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Thank you to Maker Media, Sherri, and the Zone 1 Managers. I was fortunate to have been included in this rewarding experience, have World Maker Faire withdrawals every weekend, and look forward to returning annually, even as an attendee. 

—B