Drones whined in the air as a bright and early sun cut through the late September chill at the 5th annual Champlain Makerfaire. Generator’s education coordinator Karen Cornish and her organizing team alongside CREATE, MAKE, LEARN founder Lucie Delabruere were up at dawn to install hands-on activities for kids of all ages.
Under a broad tent beneath zipping UAV’s and fluttering flags, Generator’s education tent was a great attraction at this year’s festival of DIY ingenuity. Two activities in particular hooked interest: the cardboard automaton workshop and the LEGO zipline.
Inspired by a popular 19th century fascination with the life-like effects achievable through mechanical motion, Generator’s automaton workshop introduced revelers to basic concepts of rotational motion and shaped gears. More than fifty unique hand-cranked machines were created over the course of the two-day festival. The record-holding session was a full hour sit-down of discovery and mechanical delight!
Inspired by scenes from some of our most thrilling adventures – from summer swim holes to James Bond films – the LEGO zipline workshop invited visitors to exercise their ingenuity by designing novel, working trolleys and testing them on a temporary suspension line. Many concepts – balance, rotation, and momentum – were all in play as systems swooped, tipped, crashed and glided to their final destinations.
Alongside Generator, it was a thrill to have member and STEM educator extraordinaire Lucy Delabruere sharing her Interactive Audible Garden. The garden makes it fun and exciting for players of all ages and skills levels to make noise and experiment with sound in a rich, generative atmosphere of risk-taking exploration and composition. Perhaps most exciting, this installation was created, coded and hosted by kids in grades 5-8 from a range of schools across Vermont. In the words of Lucie,
Bringing the exhibit out of their school to the Maker Faire not only gave the students a chance to further grow their communication skills, but it also brought citizenship into the mix. They helped visitors from young children to senior citizen experience grow confidence with circuits and code as they explained how their interactive garden worked.
A big thanks to the organizers of the 2016 Champlain Makerfaire for generously including Generator, and huge props to everyone who found us there and participated in these educational workshops. See you next year!