Posts tagged ‘Maker Faire’

September 28, 2011

GeekMom’s 10 Takeaway Lessons From Maker Faire NY

by Farah

Blogger Andrea Schwalm wrote a great post summing up her experience at Maker Faire. Her points (aside from the one about how her son is so great) touch on a lot of topics we’ve discussed in class or posted about here like sustainability, the importance of play, programming with Arduino, ham radios, hackerspaces, etc. She includes tons of links to the projects and groups featured at the Faire as well as recent news stories about making/DIY. It’s definitely worth looking at if you weren’t able to attend or even if you did go and want to further explore some of the initiatives encountered there.

One of the things Schwalm links to is Jody Culkin’s “Introduction to Arduino” comic. For those of us without prior programming experience, this might be a helpful primer in advance of Nick’s workshop:

Click the image to download the PDF!

September 20, 2011

Thoughts on the Maker Faire

by Farah

Photos: woman weaving bracelets in the crafts area and a deer (moose?) head I assembled from laser cut cardboard pieces in the NYU/ITP tent. A few more photos here.

Like others have mentioned, there was so much going on at the Maker Faire that it was hard to pick and choose what to partake in. Since part of my interest in this class is to be more hands-on with DIY experiences, I decided to go in with an open mind and just be up for trying new things. Deb wrote a little bit about our experience with the free knitting class. We got a quick lesson from some hilarious, sassy older women who have been doing needlework for a long, long time. One of the main things I came away from that lesson and the Faire as a whole with is that whether you’re knitting, making your own biodiesel, or hacking electronics, DIY projects are a lot of fun, but they also require incredible patience, commitment, and practice.

I managed to cast on and knit a few rows of stitches under the guidance of my instructor Helen. In my opinion, my rows were looking a little shabby, but Helen had me stop after each one and say out loud, “Damn, I’m good!” before checking if I had made any mistakes. When learning a new skill with your hands, it’s frustrating when you’re trying really hard but can’t figure out how to release the muscle memory of something you’re used to doing, like typing or writing. Once you start getting the hang of it though and allow yourself enjoy the play of making something instead of approaching it solely as work, it becomes a lot easier. I think that Helen’s point about taking a moment to express confidence and pride in your work is something that applies to all forms of DIY. No matter the field, everyone was a beginner at some point, and you can’t move forward if you only focus on what you’ve done wrong.

It was also great to see so many kids and their parents there, especially with all we’ve been reading about early childhood development and education. However, while we were watching Mousetrap Live, Nitin made a good point that as diverse as the attendee demographics appeared to be, the one group that seemed to be missing were the families who actually live in the neighborhood. I tend to have this idealistic view of DIY as equal opportunity: people from all ages and walks of life can learn a new skill by doing. In reality, events like the Maker Faire can tend to attract a largely white, upper-middle class crowd unless the organizers make a conscious effort of reaching out to people outside of that demographic. That’s something I think we should be cognizant of as we continue to look at other DIY initiatives.

All in all, I’m glad to have gone to the Maker Faire and I look forward to more enriching DIY experiences!

September 20, 2011

FOOD FIGHT: Christine Zenyi Lu (bio)

by czenyilu22

DIY Fennel Crisps: Take a fennel bulb, shave it into thin slices (use a mandolin if you have one), drizzle it in olive oil and roast at 350 degrees. When the edges begin to turn brown and crisp, take it out and while it’s still hot drizzle with lemon, Parmesan, sea salt, and pepper.

Your house will smell like heaven and everyone will think you’re a genius.

As an undergrad, I studied English and film and moved to New York immediately after graduation. I’ve worked in documentary, the non-profit sector, and corporate television, as well as made elaborate prohibition-age cocktails behind the bar. Throughout it all, I was driven by my insatiable desire for fresh, quality ingredients and storytelling.

Smorgasburg is a perfect example of the food craze in Brooklyn. From rooftop farms, to urban beekeeping, pickling, kombucha/beer brewing, cheese/soap making, window farms, community gardens, seed bombing, foraging in Central Park, to vertical gardens – the list is virtually endless. If you can eat it, someone is making it. I love this. I want to document this with a new media project profiling people with good ideas who are changing the food industry.

Here is a Ted Talk by Britta Riley about a DIY initiative involving hydroponic gardens that she modeled after NASA.

By using a social media site, Britta is able to create an international community of over $18,000 people where testing each others ideas to create progress is more important than being the “idea guy”. She asks us to visit her website to rediscover “the power of citizens united and to declare that we are all still pioneers.” High-five!

The topic for TedxManhattan January 2012 is “Changing the Way We Eat” and I highly recommend checking out the videos from the 2011 talks (especially Brian Halweil “From New York to Africa: Why Food is Changing the World” & Cheryl Rogowski “Being a Family Farmer”). []

As inspired as I am by Britta Riley, I have to wonder if window farming is really going to change the problems of the food and agricultural industry. Can these DIY practices change policy? Is that there purpose? Is it enough that they are leading us towards more sustainable ways of eating and farming? What about the punk urban beekeepers neglecting their bees and was that tiny jar of honey really $15? Can there really be change in small steps, block by block?

At Maker Faire, I made seed bombs out of clay, dirt, and seeds to toss into vacant lots with Ioby (, which is like a Kickstarter for environmental projects. We decided that the answer to all the above questions is yes. Change is possible and happening all around us and the importance of keeping it local, positive, hopeful and visible.

How come the Arduino tent was 3x bigger than the sustainability tent? Did anyone try that enormous Paella?

Please send your food talk, food links, farmers, foragers and snacks my way!

DIY Paella Lovers Unite!

“Food is not the problem. Food is the solution.”~ Brian Halweil

September 18, 2011

Participatory Learning with xBees

by hstrykdiy

I could probably write ten posts based upon my experiences at Maker Faire. I only went Saturday, but I quickly realized how there is just TOO MUCH to see in one day. For this post I will focus on Robert Faludi’s talk on “Fun with Xbees.” His lecture showed some of the amazing projects that were made possible using Xbees (a component which can wirelessly communicate with an Arduino board). One project that I found applicable to our class (and also relates to our visitor last week) was Indiana University’s “BeeSim”. BeeSim uses LilyPad Arduinos and Xbee radios as well as open-source software to teach children about bee behavior. This video is a great introduction:

One point made in the video that was interesting was that children settled down and started to discuss/analyze bee behavior once they started to play the game within the constraints of set rules. The bee glove is programmed so that the children have to let the bee “rest” between rounds of delivering pollen – this time is spent by the children talking with each other about what they just did – and perhaps how to do the tasks faster during the next round. This reminded me of Vgotsky’s ‘Play and its role in the Mental Development of the Child’. “Action in the imaginative sphere, in an imaginary situation, the creation of voluntary intentions and the formation of real-life plans and volitional motives – all appear in play and make it the highest level of preschool development.” After playing BeeSim, the children gain a very developed understanding of why and how bees produce honey, and gain the ability to describe the process with the proper terminology (stamen, pollen, proboscis, ect.)

Because the tools to create the BeeSim project are relatively inexpensive, and all the software is available for download (the instructions are posted on Instructables – schools/organizations only need access (in theory) to someone who knows a bit about programming, hardware components and electronics (all things that can be learned via an introductory book on electronics) to have a BeeSim game of their own.