Maker Faire inspires young inventors to showcase their projects Margot Mather ’17

A large paper maché dragon constructed by makers greets guests at the entrance to the Maker Faire

Co-chair of the Maker Faire Organizing Committee, Alex Giannini, stared up in awe up at the massive white tent filling Jesup Green for an event he affectionately calls “the greatest show and tell on Earth.”

Onlookers gather around a woodworking workshop to learn how to put the finishing touches on their pieces

On Saturday, April 22, the Westport Public Library hosted its sixth annual Maker Faire which gathers scientists, tech-enthusiasts, tinkers, and interested public at Jesup Green to showcase their skills and talents in an innovative way. This is Connecticut’s largest event focused on creativity and innovation, and is free of charge for entry.

Brookfield High School’s Robotics Team 1099, known as The DiscoTechs, showcase a robot they have been working on for 6 weeks that lobs whiffle balls up to hit or catch.

According to the Maker Faire Organizing Committee, the faire draws interests that include “artists, woodworkers, builders, musicians, people who sew, engineers, comedians, jugglers and more.”

Children engage in a game of library-organized and maker-created "Human Foosbal" in which participants must remain stationed onto their respective PVC pipe space and score by kicking the ball to the end, where the other teams' goal lies
visitors at the Maker Faire make their mark on the welcome sign

For his first time this year, James O’Brien ’17 presented his food-computer at his own booth at the faire.

James O'Brien shows his excitement in presenting his food-computer to onlookers

“It’s all about learning all of the creative and useful and cool things that people can make that are a lot more accessible than they think they are [...] It brings the coolest things home,” O’Brien said.

This device uses a computer to monitor the environment inside, and change the chambers’ environment in order to grow food in the best possible conditions. O’Brien created the food computer last summer after watching a Ted Talk presented by the founder of the research team developing the design of the product.

O'Brien exposes the roots of his plants growing in his food-computer to demonstrate the growth of the plant

“It’s a great way to show people, and bring people closer to not only food but the technology behind it too in a new way,” O’Brien said.

O'Brien gets up close and personal to answer questions from spectators inquiring about his food-computers' mechanics

Other makers presenting at the faire included Jonathan Russo, a senior at West Hill High School, who presented his computer-generated, 3D printed sculptures.

As children stared fascinated at his live design demonstration on Sculptris, a computer software, Russo reflected on the events’ impact on the community.

West Hill High School Senior Jonathan Russo does a live demonstration of how he draws his sculptures on the computer software Sculptris to go on to 3D print them and eventually sell them

“I think that they’ll walk away with seeing everything which is really great because they’re exposed to the new tech that we’ve introduced to our community, and interested in what I’ve been working on. It’s kinda nice to be appreciated like that,” Russo said.

Some of Russo's 3D printed Sculptures he designed on Sculptris
another makers' sculptures made from clay

Such large appreciation after months of often year-long projects has enabled makers to pride themselves on their work, which, according to Giannini is applicable especially to the robotics teams.

“They’re in a basement or in a workshop building these robots and the only time that people ever see them is in a competition and that’s a very limited thing. Here we have 10,000 people and they get to really show off what they’ve been working on,” Giannini said.

a 3D printer designed by makers prints a spinner, a gadget used to help people stay off their phones and focus, though spinning it around their fingers

With a record number of attendees in event history, it has opened up its grounds to the newly constructed Bedford Square in the heart of downtown Westport for the first time.

“The thing that I’m most excited about this year, is the breadth of makers. If you go around and look at all the booths, you’ll see a lot of younger makers, and that makes me happy,” Giannini said.

Maker Blythe Serrano shows off her glow-in-the-dark pet collars with light sensors that only activate the light in the dark

Some of these young makers included boy scout troops working to attain certain badges, such as the Norwalk Boy Scouts who worked to build circuits that would power an alternating LED flashlight.

A boy scout from the Norwalk Boy Scouts troop carefully builds his circuit to function as a piece of his LED alternating flashlight
a participant in a woodworking car race anticipates the race with excitement
Created By
Margot Mather
Appreciate

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Photos by Margot Mather '17

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