A new tradition my extraordinary father and I began last year is attending the Calgary Mini Maker Faire at the Telus Spark Science Centre. The Maker Faire is a place where everyone from robotics engineers to homemade crafters to garage tinkers, come to share their projects and ideas. One of my favourite parts about the Maker Faire is the incredible array of people presenting and attending.
On that note, let me begin by introducing the coolest kid we met, Arpad, the Science Lad. Arpad built a Van de Graaf generator using the battery pack from a bug zapper, a Tesla coil, a few lightbulbs, and a bunch of tinfoil. He was thrilled to tell us all about his creation and how much fun he had building it. He told us about how dangerous this sort of experiment could be if he wasn’t careful. “Kids shouldn’t play with these things,” said the 10 year old. I could have hung out with Arpad all day, but had to move on.
We walked past the wearable LEDs and tried on some glowing accessories. Two sisters, one with the creative design mind, and one with the LED know-how, work together to make really incredible wearables. We stumbled upon a pancake printer. Yes, a printer that prints pancakes into designs right on the pan. The device squirts out the pancake batter onto the pan as it cooks, and as if by magic, but knowing full well it is by science, an Eiffel Tower pancake appeared on the pan.
We learned about Protospace, a space for members to gather and work on their dreams and ideas. One member of Protospace showed us his can crusher. He instructed us to put an empty can in the hole. The can slid into place, sat for a split second, and then a very loud hydraulic press crushed it.
I smiled as I walked around, seeing all of the passionate makers explaining their projects to other passionate makers. It is so cool to see ideas being shared in such an open minded and rad space. The room was all a buzz. Then a kid ran by me ecstatically yelling, “ROBOTS! ROBOTS! MOM! THERE ARE ROBOTS EVERYWHERE!”
Next, I took a turn blowing up asteroids with a Virtual Reality mask. It was fun, but I couldn’t help but think about how crazy I must have looked; spinning around, bending my knees and extending the control— my gun— out in front of me. I was even making shooting and explosion sound effects, that probably didn’t sound like shooting or explosions. Dad just laughed.Dad took a turn shooting an infrared gun at a target. Once he hit the target, a big blast of fire shot out into the air.
I left the Maker Faire with a hand made button made from a comic book, a custom engraved lego piece, and a rekindled appreciation for the incredible people who build and design technology. Thanks for the rad day of art, science, and technology, Calgary!