An estimated 25,000 people attended NJ Makers Day 2016. <br/>Photo credit Doug Baldwin

An estimated 25,000 people attended NJ Makers Day 2016. Photograph by Doug Baldwin

Expanded to two days of programs, a bigger, better New Jersey Makers Day returned to the Garden State for the second year. An estimated 25,000 people attended events at over 250 libraries, schools, museums, makerspaces, and A.C. Moore locations across the state. With everything from robots to marble runs, 3D printing to sewing, there was something for everyone to enjoy.

High school robotics teams were out in full force, sharing their creations with attendees. At the John F. Kennedy Library, Piscataway High School Team 224, “The Tribe,” were showing off their robot, which could pick up and throw a basketball. As one team member explained, NJ Makers Day was an opportunity to spark an interest in robotics in younger kids and share what he’d learned.

There were also many fun items for children to explore. One popular new addition this year was the Ozobot, a tiny robot that can be controlled by hand-drawn colored lines, allowing children to create mazes and even program the device using color. Building sets like Strawbees, Roominate, and Lego bricks were on hand in many locations, right alongside high-tech toys like SnapCircuits and littleBits, so that kids could create.

Of course, many groups brought their 3D printers for demonstrations. Some old-fashioned technology made an appearance too, with everything from trains to phonographs on display. And Makers recombined technology in new ways. One of the best: New Jersey Makerspace Association’s interactive video application, which used a Makey Makey as a controller and allowed participants to rotate their image and add artistic filters in real-time.

IEEE was highlighting their recently launched Augmented Reality (AR) app. When using a smartphone camera, an AR app allows the user to see and interact with new visuals, games, and other information layered over the real world. For example, the “IEEE Standards and The City” app transforms a normal mural into a moving picture where users can guide “Tesla” through four different scenarios in a city environment.

But it wasn’t all technology. The Warren County Headquarters Library hosted Pancake Art demonstrations, chromatography crafts, and woodcarving activities. Sewing, embroidery, and jewelry-making were also popular in many locations. Many attendees built large, twisty, turning marble-runs and roller coasters out of tubes, foam and duct tape. And Nerdy Derbies, where participants were given things like toilet paper rolls, pasta, and metal washers to create mini cars, were fun for everyone.

“We had a fantastic second NJ Makers Day this year,” said Doug Baldwin, New Jersey Makers Day organizer and Emerging Technologies Librarian at the Piscataway Public Library. “We had some visitors spending hours making, building and tinkering—really delving into the work. If last year was about introducing the concept and getting people interested, this year was definitely about rolling up the sleeves and really focusing in on the activities themselves. What one, now two days, is hopefully building is a blossoming community of organizations ready to support and continue to nurture all the makers in the Garden State.”

NJ Makers Day would not have been possible without the support of its sponsors: Library Link NJ, NJIT, PSEG, A.C. Moore, Bird Brain Technologies, BuildTak and Soldering Sunday, or its partners: Manufacture NJ, [email protected], Make It Yourself, NJ Makerspace Association, Hillsdale Library Makerspace, 5eTek, Bergen County Makerspace, NJ Library Association, NJ State Library, Statewide Network for New Jersey’s Afterschool Communities, The Community Corps, Sylvan Learning, and TCF.

Check out some of the fun below.