It's been a long time since I've posted. I admit it. I'm not happy about it, but my energies have been unbelievably sapped. I attended an event last weekend that revitalized my faith in science as something FUN, though. (Note: this is the same post that I've also put at Chemistry Blog.)
The Maker Faire is a "World Science Fair" event conceived and organized by those who produce Make magazine, which is described as "a do-it-yourself technology magazine written by makers." It was held in three cities this year - NYC, Detroit, and the Bay Area. The Faire happened in NYC at the New York Hall of Science in Queens last weekend and was a fantastic, energetic composite of things going on. Well worth the trek to get out that far into Queens!
The event embodied the "do-it-yourself technology" theme, featuring exhibits with a heavy focus on science, cool demonstrations, and lots of do-it-yourself booths where "makers" hosted hands-on activities for children and adults alike. Naturally, something like this was irresistible to me, and I was able to attend for free since I was volunteering at a booth (unrelated to science or technology - I was with a group of a different kind of maker). I didn't get too much of a chance to spend time at many of the huge number of booths and exhibits, unfortunately, which was a huge bummer.
The schedule was overwhelmingly packed - definitely intended for people to spend an entire day there. There was a demonstration stage, multiple craft tents, a huge food area, a beer tent tucked in there (which seemed to result in me getting security to throw out one guy who was harassing one of the women I was working with), and a large handmade craft sale section hosted by BUST magazine called BUST Craftacular.
Activities included "Cardboard Music," where instruments were made from cardboard and found objects, a live presentation called "Thinking Like a Scientist" (some demonstrations of which are 200 years old) given by Wizard IV (Steve Jacobs), who also happens to be the science consultant for MythBusters. MakerBot Industries was there - they create 3D printers that you assemble and then can then function as a little factory to make things for you (see the company website for more awesomeness). One of the biggest pulls for visitors was the "Reverse Geocache (TM) Puzzle" - unlike using GPS to locate boxes around the country/world, you are given the box, but it won't open unless you are at particular coordinates that've been programmed into it, and you have a limited number of clues to find that exact location. Add this fun kind of intellectually stimulating product, activities and ideas, to children's rides, music shows, tasty paella, and handmade crafts, and you've got one heck of a good sciencey time.
Check out images of the event on their own website, as well as those on CNET, guaranteed to be focused on the super techie stuff.