Students from 11 different schools, ranging from elementary to high school grades, visited New York Hall of Science Thursday for Maker Faire Education Day. Students cycled through six different programs, which took them from the science playground, to the hands-on pavilion, to the outdoor events. One of the activities was a visit to the BioBus, a bus refurbished into a solar-powered science lab, hosted by founder Dr. Ben Dubin and Dr. Latisha Wright.
Dr. Wright ushered in a group of 4th graders from the Hebrew Language Academy, and showed them what looked like an empty microscope slide. She explained that the slide held a sample of Daphnia, a freshwater crustacean. She then placed the slide under a microscope and an overhead video screens burst to life with images of a small creature swimming around. “Woah,” was the universal response from the students. “Is it alive?” Followed by a few whispered “That’s gross.”
Their teacher, Kathleen O’Connor, was nearly as excited as the students. “This is part of our STEM program, and it’s a great opportunity to give the students some hands-on experience,” she said.
Then, catching the student’s enthusiasm, she added, “This is so awesome! They’re loving it. There’s only so much you can do in a classroom!”
Clearly, the highlight of the day was the Giant Mousetrap, a life sized version of the 1970s tabletop toy. The students got a first hand lesson on the realities of making, when after several minutes of buildup, the mousetrap actually failed to run. A surreptitious poke with a stick at one point got the ball rolling (literally), but the finale, a giant falling safe, needed two of the mousetrappers to hit it with hammers before it dropped, to the cheers of the crowd. Alex Ramos, 15, of Waterford High School in Connecticut, enjoyed the spectacle, but wasn’t sure if he would try it himself.
“If I did,” he said, “I’d try to make it more reliable.”
There was a lot more to see inside, both upstairs and down. Without space to do justice to all the great makers, here’s a sampling. Come out to World Maker Faire this weekend to see them for yourself.