DEARBORN, Mich. — Thousands of families descended on the Henry Ford Museum last weekend for the 2016 Maker Faire Detroit. Kids had the opportunity to design, build and take home items like model race cars, leather wristbands and other do-it-yourself projects.
“You guys should check it out, it’s a really fun place to go to and I really enjoy it,” said young attendee Ryan from Cleveland.
With the recent Pokémon GO craze taking over the world, I noticed several 3D printers producing Pokemon characters like Pikachu. Some might say that Pokémon took over the Maker Faire.
Pish Posh TV was one of the organizations printing Pokemon characters. Upon completion, they were given out as free gifts to attendees.
“We’ve printed over 400 of these over the last five days and they’re all gone,” said Michael Evans, senior developer and founder of Pish Posh TV. “We have another batch printing right now. They are going to be Team Mystic, which is my team. One of the projects that we’re working on right now is an internet of things garden. It will send you a text message and let you know if the garden is too dry or if it’s been in the sun too long and it’s too hot.”
Another organization called SeeMeCNC made larger-than-life Pikachu characters that guests could stand next to and pose for a picture. The machine can make objects 10 times larger than most 3D printers can build.
“This is called the PartDaddy, it’s a 17-foot-tall giant 3D printer,” said Steve Wygant, owner of SeeMeCNC. “It first debuted a couple of years ago. It’s made to print basically 10 times scale of what a small printer prints. I saw one of the Maker media crew and they said, ‘Look at my phone.’ They actually caught a Pikachu right by the 3D printed Pikachu.”
Attendee Kathy Olsen from Ypsilanti, Mich., added: “Our other son is into Pokémon GO. We don’t have the app. We were very sad we didn’t have him with us to grab those Pokémon.”
Then, I visited the Maker Works tent where kids were able to design and build model race cars. Once complete, they had the opportunity to compete against their friends on the track. The goal was to beat the record time of 4 seconds and some of the kids came pretty close!
“It’s very loud, right now the kids are learning traditional leather work,” said Sarah Hodsdon, chief creative officer at Sarahndipitous Designs. “Basically, how to use tools of the trade to make their own leather bracelets. As you hear them pounding, what they are really learning is how to bring something two dimensional into three dimensions. It’s like a low-tech, science project. It’s also a skill to share, which is really, really important.”
Later, I visited the Terraycle booth where kids could make paper airplanes out of used toothpaste tubes. Just clean them out and fold them into the shape of a plane. It’s easy as 1-2-3 remember to reduce, reuse and recycle.
“You can have your school sign up and send in toothpaste tube waste and toothbrush handles and then we can donate money to your favorite charity for every unit of waste that you collect,” said Tiffany Threadgould, chief design junkie at Terracycle.
Jaime Amrine is the lead engineer from a new company called Toggled. They are reinventing the fluorescent light bulb with LEDs. The new bulbs are available for sale right now at the Home Depot. Its parent company, Altair, also created running blades for Paralympic athletes to compete in track and field.
“First of all, you are going to save at least half of your energy,” he explained. “You are going to reduce power to about 16 watts per bulb and you’re going to solve some of the issues you have with fluorescent like eliminating buzz and flicker, instant start-up in the cold, just a better quality of light overall.”
Inside the Shell tent, visitors were able to make their own salt water fuel cell race cars. It was a cool science fair project about alternative energy. Kids were awed by the simplicity and effectiveness of the toy.
“This is Edison, it’s a fully Lego compatible, programmable robot,” said Jonathan Jacobs, founder of The Robot Garage. “You get this nice little orange guy and you can put your Lego contraptions on trip and control it with a remote control. It also has programmable bar codes and you can also program it with any app. You can program it to work wherever you want.”
Attendees had the opportunity to crank a wheel that created wind power which was demonstrated as a way to light up Michigan Stadium also known as “The Big House.”
“It’s really fantastic, we love the Maker Faire,” said attendee Don Serrano of Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich. “I think my favorite part is the looks on our kids’ faces. They come in here and their eyes open wide and they don’t even know where to start. They just dive into the first thing that they see and move on. There’s so much to do, it’s wonderful. Don’t miss it next year. We are already planning on doing two days. There’s so much to do. It’s really a two-day activity.”
Fair goers also had the opportunity to purchase a Bose Build speaker cube. It offers kids the chance to make a speaker with their own hands that syncs with a Bluetooth device like an iPhone iPad or Mac computer.
The Maker Faire also allows attendees to enjoy everything inside the Henry Ford Museum at no extra charge. That includes the presidential cars, the Rosa Parks bus and the Lincoln chair, among much more.
For more information about Maker Faire Detroit, visit www.makerfairedetroit.com.