Local Maker Convention Not Your Typical Science Fair

September 10, 2013

The Zoetics

Photo by Ryley Thompson
The crowd looks on as ‘The Hand of Man’ crushes a large object at the second-annual Albuquerque Mini-Maker Faire.

By Ryley Thompson

Recently, scholar’s of the ASK Academy took part in the second annual Albuquerque Mini Maker Faire, where people across the state came together to show off their talent and hawk their homemade creations. The event took place at the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta Park and Museum in late August, and everyone from scientists to artists, to clothing designers set up shop. One of the Academy’s very own, freshman Gwen Orr, had a booth representing her family’s costume-making business, Knight Blue Design.

Orr’s mother has been in the business for about five years and has created everything from theatrical and movie costumes, to armor and prosthetics. Orr said she enjoyed the Maker’s Faire because events like this are a way to make new contacts in the industry, specifically in the movie-making business.

“This was our first time going to the faire, so we thought it would be fun,” Orr said. She was featured in the recap of the Albuquerque event by Make Zine, dressed in full costume. “I feel like it is more fun to show people what I can do rather than what I actually am. Because what I actually am is kind of boring and science-y,” she said of her costume.

College freshman Haley Hanson – President of the Dutch 200 club, a local robotics team sponsored by First Tech Challenge – was there to promote the team and competition. First Tech Challenge is an international organization in which students learn to think like an engineer or scientist. The organization offers students a chance at over $20 million dollars in scholarships. During robotics season Dutch 200 meets Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays; Hanson encourages scholars from any school to join.

“Scholars would want to join because it is the hardest fun you will ever have,” she said. “Anyone can join our club, we have positions for everybody.”

Of the many inventions displayed at the  Maker’s Faire, it was hard to miss the artistic installation, Hand of Man, an enormous hydraulic hand designed to pick up large objects and throw or crush them. The creator Christian Ristow, a well-known designer of large-scale art said, “It was designed to crush cars. I have always liked destroying things.” The 26-foot long interactive structure can be controlled by anyone who slips a hand into the glove that Ristow designed for it.

Mechanic and builder Brian Mitchell was there showing off a decent-sized trebuchet, which he built in his free time. Mitchell said he wasn’t always into building. “I was always more interested in engineering cars,” he said. Then he heard about The Pumpkin Chunkin’ competition, held annually in Estancia, New Mexico, and it sparked his interest. The Pumpkin Chunkin’ is a competition where builders create a mechanical device, and compete to see which will hurl pumpkins the farthest.

Mitchell created a small trebuchet, which has since grown in size. “We had a small one that we played with until we got bored and we wanted to make it bigger,” he said.

Orr said she was pleased with the results of the Maker Faire and will more than likely attend the event next year.

“I liked the idea,” she said. “Although I wish there was more to do, which I am sure will come as it gets bigger throughout the years. But I liked it, I thought it was fun.”

For more information on The Albuquerque Mini Maker Faire, check out their Facebook page.

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