Kylie Choi and dad Tony popped into San Francisco's Exploratorium yesterday looking to get their hands on some science and came upon the Young Maker Open Make event, which wasn't on their radar but fit perfectly with their vision for the day. Open Make, a collaboration between the Exploratorium, Make magazine, and Pixar Animation Studios, brings together makers from around the San Francisco Bay Area to share their ingenuity and techniques with the next generation of tinkerers. The event runs on the third Saturday of the month through April.
Here at the Marble Machine station, the Chois construct a pathway that a marble can use to descend to the floor with velocity and gravity.
The theme of yesterday's Open Make? Toys. Makers worked on wire automata, wire sculptures that animate when a wire crank is rotated. Here, Bryce Suzuki, 10, solders a break in one of the wires in his automata. Bryce said he's an experienced maker, with eight maker events under his belt, but this was his first time soldering.
A fascination with the history of Europe's Middle Ages led 11-year-old Carl Tavernise to his first maker crusade. He's learning to make chain mail. To start, Carl is practicing with softer copper wire and a teddy bear, but he plans to make himself a chain-mail shirt out of stainless steel rings by this May's Bay Area Maker Faire.
Not all projects at yesterday's event were intended to be completed in one afternoon. Stephanie Zuniga, left, and Jessica Hernandez, both seniors at Oakland's Lighthouse high school, were taking a lesson in how to use Google's free SketchUp software for designing future projects. They intend to build what Stephanie called "an optical illusive house," a house of visual tricks.
Computers didn't have a massive presence at yesterday's event, but they did make an appearance. This stop motion station came with lights, a camera, and a button so makers could record frames of action. Here, 8-year-old Diego and his father Roberto create a short stop-motion movie using provided marbles and their hands as the movie's "actors."
Inspired by Dr. Seuss' seven-Hump Wump in the book "One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish," experienced maker Lena Fleischer, 11, has designed a Two-Hump Wump. It calls for two bicycles to be joined at the rear tire, but offset from each other for balance, and then decorated to look like a camel.
At his first maker event, 11-year-old Ian Senne uses tape, washers, a dowel, and what he describes as one drop of hot glue from a glue gun to create a top. He said it wasn't very challenging for him because "almost everyone's made tops before."
These two makers work with scissors, needles, thread, and batteries to give dead toys new life. Anisa Alazraie, 11, is fixing up a roller-skating bear, while her 9-year-old sister Sonia is sewing two ducks together. "I love making stuff," she said.
San Francisco's Scroungers Center for Reusable Art Parts (SCRAP) has been around for 35 years, bolstering local schools' art supplies with low-cost materials. Its table at the Young Maker event helped teach participants how one man's trash quickly can become another man's sculpture.
Young makers had the chance to build a scribbling machine. Small motors and other parts were provided, and then the makers, like 8-year-old Hayden Giles, had to build the device with batteries and wires. Besides attaching the battery and motor to the machine with tape, the makers also had to attach pens to scribble with, and a small piece of plastic to the end of the motor to unbalance it and give it the distinctive wobble of a scribble.
Mix high school students, "Battlestar Galactica," and a chance flight simulator experience in Washington, D.C., and you get the Viper Simulator. A team of high school makers showed off the flight simulator at the Young Maker event today, only two months into the project. They expect it to be ready by May's Bay Area Maker Faire.
The project, which was designed in the software Maya, calls for full 360-degree rotation on both X and Y axes. Moving on the Z axis would, of course, require a jet engine. From left to right, the makers are John Boyer, 16, of San Rafael, Calif.; Sam Frank, 16, of Oakland, Calif.; and Sam DeRose, 17, and Alex Jacobson, 16, both of San Rafael. The team met in high school, and this is their most ambitious maker undertaking yet.