This past weekend, AT&T hosted its inaugural SHAPE Tech Expo at AT&T Park (aka the ballpark home of the San Francisco Giants). The concourse encircling the ball field was peppered with companies showing off the latest technologies that are shaping the future (hence the name).

Make: was invited to create Maker Camp Live, inviting kids to engage in hands-on projects like learning to solder, and then using their new skills to make a working mini traffic light controller and simple IoT wearables. To put it mildly, the kids LOVED it. All the sessions were booked up solid, and we got to watch (and assist) hundreds of curious kids digging into the joys of STEM throughout the day.

Makey oversees the action at Maker Camp Live.

Makey oversees the action at Maker Camp Live. (Photo: Lisa Martin)

To put it simply, there’s no better way to get kids engaged in science, technology, engineering and math than getting their hands and brains into simple, accessible projects.

Learning to solder at Maker Camp Live.

Learning to solder at Maker Camp Live. (Photo: Lisa Martin)

Beyond our Maker Camp Live corner of the Expo, we found what was effectively a Consumer Electronics Show (CES) distilled down to the coolest stuff, and spread throughout the beautiful ballpark, allowing for a pleasant meander through the technology of the future in a non-crazy-making environment.

Ella and the author meet Pepper the robot.

Ella and the author meet Pepper the robot. (Photo: Will Chase)

When we got a minute to cruise the ballpark, we weren’t surprised to see loooong lines to try out the numerous VR companies’ immersive experiences, clearly demonstrating that the VR these days is a) amazing, and b) the next big thing in entertainment and beyond. We saw demos of internet-enabled health services that are stepping up to meet the challenge (and opportunity) presented by an aging population of baby-boomers. Technology platforms for data collection and sharing, networked cities, the latest in robotics — it was all there, along with an impressive line-up of speakers on the main stage. There were even challenges and a hackathon during the event with cash prizes.

We certainly hope SHAPE Expo happens again next year, because we had an absolute ball, as did all the kids who experienced Maker Camp. And if it happens, Make will be there.

If the idea of hosting a Maker Camp in your community tingles your brain, we’ll help you do it! Lucky for us, AT&T Aspire (AT&T’s signature philanthropic initiative) has provided a generous contribution that will bring Maker Camps to students across the country this summer. Learn more and become an affiliate!

A proud young Maker, showing off his creation.

A proud young Maker, showing off his creation. (Photo: Mara Lincoln)

Ella had a ball!

Ella had a ball! (Photo: Will Chase)

Kids programming at Maker Camp Live.

Kids programming at Maker Camp Live. (Photo: Lisa Martin)

Soldering circuits at Maker Camp Live.

Soldering circuits at Maker Camp Live. (Photo: Lisa Martin)

Breadboarding requires concentration.

Breadboarding requires concentration. (Photo: Lisa Martin)