On Saturday August 16th nearly two thousand people (mostly families with young children) came to the Museum of Life and Science in Durham North Carolina to attend the annual “Engineers Day” event. Every year the museum hosts a day of hands-on activities and workshops that promote the profession of engineering.
Engineers Day is reminiscent of a Mini Maker Faire including hands-on experiences, 3D printing, FIRST Robotics teams, unmanned aerial photography, Lego Robotics Workshops, and lessons in upcycling and recycling by building treasure from electronic trash. This year’s event was sponsored by CISCO and IBM who helped bring in tons of volunteers to teach and to help people with the hands-on exhibits. I was there as “Harris Educational” to let folks get hands-on experience troubleshooting a typical electric vehicle circuit with my new EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator. I also demonstrated my Reinventing Science Kits.
The museum itself served as an inspiring backdrop for all of the activity of Engineers Day. The Museum of Life and Science is an excellent hands-on museum with a really good blend of hands-on self-paced educational exhibits, workshop/lab/outdoor space, and amazing static exhibits including artifacts from the space race on permanent loan from the Smithsonian’s National Air and Space Museum. I can still remember visiting this museum after a two hour activity bus ride when I was in elementary school and being in total awe of their REAL Lunar Module (LM)!
My own exhibit for Engineers Day was adjacent to two very popular exhibits. The first was called Pop Locks. Pop Locks are modular paper construction toys that can be used to make all kinds of 2D and 3D creations. Pop Locks were created by Josh Buczynski a member of SplatSpace a maker space in downtown Durham NC. Josh sells maker-made Paper Poseables Pop Locks kits and materials through his website, but also offers up the designs as free downloads that can be printed and cut out on your own construction paper. Josh also hosts photos of people’s Pop Locks creations. He even has a mini “photo booth” that he brings to events like Engineers Day and to Maker Faire events so that folks can take and post their photos on the fly.
The second cool exhibit near me was titled “Engineering with Evolution” by Museum of Life and Science Exhibits Engineer Peter Reintjes. By day Peter designs and creates amazing educational hands-on exhibits for the Museum. In his own time he’s experimenting with using E. coli bacteria as organic computers to process DNA using home-made biochemical reactor equipment built out of scrap materials that he’s found at The Scrap Exchange, a local reuse and recycling facility. Peter has coined the notion of Moore’s Law ++ comparing the cost of information processing as it scales from Desktop PC to Raspberry Pi to Arduino to PIC Micro Controller down to DNA Processing with E. coli cells. Peter is also a member of SplatSpace and is a frequent exhibitor at Maker Faire North Carolina and the Burlington Mini Maker Faire.
Engineers Day 2014 was a great success and I’m looking forward to coming back in 2015! Thank you to the Museum of Life and Science for hosting Harris Educational for this cool educational event. See photos from Engineers Day 2014 Here.