Launching Paper Rockets and Rafting a Micro-River at East Bay Maker Faire

Maker News
Launching Paper Rockets and Rafting a Micro-River at East Bay Maker Faire

Every October I head to one of my favorite events, the East Bay Maker Faire held at Park Day School in Oakland, CA. It’s an activity-heavy gathering that spreads throughout the campus, both indoors and out, with a lot of nooks and crannies that amplify the magical experience of discovery and surprise throughout.

My wife, son, and I focused on a handful of the projects for the duration, with lots of our time making and launching paper rockets and chasing tiny rafts down a flowing stream. Here are some of the photos we took there, but this just barely scratches the surface of everything that is available at the event. There’s truly something for all ages. We look forward to next year, and hope to see you all there too.

Lots of the paper rockets seemed to be exploding on the launch pad. To help mitigate this for ours, we wrapped an extra layer of masking tape around ours. This took a lot of careful teamwork.
The paper rocket launchpad has two stations to help lots of people get a chance to test out their build. A big red button released the valve and a very high-pressure blast of air would then blast the rocket into the air.
Some of the rockets went very high… and others blew into shreds. Ours, even with our meticulous masking tape wrapping, popped loudly into two pieces.
Riveropolis starts with a rain cloud pouring a non-stop stream of water into the top of a meandering and sometimes tumultuous miniature river.
Stations on either side full of supplies let kids and grownups assemble their own floating rafts and boats, then chase them down the river. Some of these builds were pretty simple, but many were quite elaborate.
There are a ton of indoor activities at East Bay Maker Faire too, interspersed throughout the different buildings on campus. One of the many enjoyable ones was this laser maze by Benicia Maker Space. Crawl through and try to beat the timer, but if you break any of the beams an alarm goes off. This was a big hit.
The East Bay Amateur Radio Club spent the day assembling a high-powered antenna while showing off some of their equipment.
The Flex Contraption Quartet sets up for another performance.
Part wheelchair, part Strandbeest, the Playa Crawler is an eye catching vehicle.

Attendees lined up to get spun on this mobile, radio-controlled spinning ride.

The High-Five Machine was one of the winning projects at this year’s Red Bull Creation. Face each other, press the buttons at the same time, and slide forward with a smile-inducing handslap in the middle.

Kids swarmed on one of the local art cars.
In a relaxing, hidden corner of the Faire, one might find the Time Traveler’s Vignette, by TJ Lee.
The crowds are entertained by one of the musical performances at the show.
We’ve all undoubtedly admired the sleek lines of the Honda Prelude, but wished it offered a few more practical perks. Song Toh did something about this with his Project Prelute, a Prelude-pickup conversion.
510 Families sends out a weekly mailing of cool activities, and had bubble making on site.
To help with its mission to show kids how easy it is to charge EVs, Charge Point brought some of their actual EV charging stations and a few powerwheel cars with their charging sockets mounted on them (non-functional — just for looks).

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Mike Senese

Mike Senese is a content producer with a focus on technology, science, and engineering. He served as Executive Editor of Make: magazine for nearly a decade, and previously was a senior editor at Wired. Mike has also starred in engineering and science shows for Discovery Channel, including Punkin Chunkin, How Stuff Works, and Catch It Keep It.

An avid maker, Mike spends his spare time tinkering with electronics, fixing cars, and attempting to cook the perfect pizza. You might spot him at his local skatepark in the SF Bay Area.

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