I took the kids down to the East Village today for the inaugural Calgary Mini Maker Faire, and we all had a blast! I've been wanting to get involved somehow in the maker movement for quite some time, but never made the effort to get down to our local hacker lab, Protospace. That'll probably change if the kids have anything to say about it.
I was very impressed by the organization of the event. I was a little worried about running in to some anti-social nerds, but every single one of the tables we visited had a friendly, articulate, passionate person behind it. Nobody talked down to me or the kids, and they were all, without exception, eager to talk about their projects and answer as many questions as we had.
The thing that surprised me most was how much time my daughter spent with the "old-school" makers, learning to comb wool and spin it into yarn. I think I learned more from those ladies than I did from any of the more "traditional" robotics, 3D printing and electronics booths as well! At one table we were looking at silkworm cocoons and learning how silk is made from them. We had just been working with the wool, and I hadn't yet touched the silk, which from a few feet away kinda looked like the wool we'd just left. It wasn't until about 5 minutes in that it dawned on me that we weren't talking about some sort of silkworm wool, but frickin' silk! I know, I'm slow, but I'd never seen the stuff coming off a cocoon. Truly amazing.
Not to say we didn't learn a lot about 3D printers and robotics as well. My son picked up a Cybug Scarab (ooh, there's a website redesign contract I can suggest!), and I finally got an Arduino beginner's kit that I've long thought would be a good way to get started. My son and I sucessfully built the first blinky light experiment this evening :-) There were quite a few 3D printers going; I think another year or so and they'll be well under $1,000. I'd hoped to see an egg-bot in action, but no such luck.
Here are a couple more random pix: