There were so many things to see at the Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire this past weekend. Throughout the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and the adjacent Buhl Community Park, makers showcased creations that ranged from The Spark Truck and mechanical sequencers to 3D Printers and laser cutters to giant, whimsical bubbles and stuffed animals made using e-textiles. There were crafts to create and purchase, art to make, cars to race—and food trucks! Families and lots of makers attended this year’s mini Maker Faire, with a total of more than 1,800 guests.
The Children’s Museum’s makerspace MAKESHOP showed off its creation— a pitching machine/trebuchet that will make its big-league debut at a Pittsburgh Pirates game Sept. 1 where it will throw a ball over home plate. Kids put the machine to the test by pulling the trigger to pitch water balloons across the park lawn, while some tried to be the balloon’s target.
The fair’s co-presenter HackPittsburgh showed off a variety of projects including Jeremy Herrman’s Game of Drones, a drone that launched ping pong balls, and a learn-to-solder workshop, while also orchestrating nail-biting competition between Power Wheel Racers and the M3Bot staged by HackPittsburghers Eli Richter and Gabriel Cottrell.
The Saturday Light Brigade family radio show broadcast throughout the fair and interviewed makers, children’s museum staff, and a few attendees. Digital Dream Labs, a company started by students from Carnegie Mellon University’s Entertainment Technology Center, showcased its portable cloudBoard programming game for children. (The tabletop version has been installed in the museum for more than a year.) In the museum’s studio, guests could create silkscreens, battle robots with a crew from FIRST Robotics (www.usfirst.org), record foley sound (sound effects added to the film during post production ), and discover a mezuzah that, when touched, prompted you to kiss it before letting you enter the “house.”
A blacksmith demonstration from Touchstone Center for Crafts drew lots of attention, while kids could create their ideal Pittsburgh out of recycled material with UNLISTED: Second Steel. Human Robot Interfacing showed how they are using a combination of technology and brain and body function to create tools for everyday life.
Attendees also could explore the museum’s exhibits as they in explored the fair. The two often complimented each other, as in the case of origami boats created, and set to sail in the Waterplay exhibit.
Overall, the fair was a joy. Kids didn’t want to leave, and quite frankly, I didn’t either. We’ll all just have to wait until next year!
Rebecca Fink is the promotional events and festivals coordinator at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.