Show and tell is reaching out to the solar system.
Over the weekend, the local edition of Maker Faire opened up shop at the New York Hall of Science in Queens. The annual event, born out of San Francisco and produced by Maker Media, is held simultaneously at cities around the world to give the public the chance to see ideas and creations developed out of the “maker movement” of tinkerers, hackers, and inventors.
The slideshow above is a nano-sampling of the different technology, hacks, designs, devices, drones, and robots that were on display. In addition to showcasing these ideas for technologists and hobbyists, the fair tries to encourage kids to take interest in different aspects of science and making.
Ayah Bdeir, CEO and founder of New York-based LittleBits, spoke about not only getting more science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) lessons in schools, but also including the fundamentals of logic. She said LittleBits, which are kits of electronic components that kids can assemble, are used in classrooms in surprising ways—including by a teacher in Michigan who created a way to help teach grammar. “It used the color code of the modules to introduce what a subject is, what a dependent clause is, and what a predicate is,” Bdeir said.
Last week her company announced LittleBits Education, a set of programs to help educators use the electronics kits to teach STEM and STEAM—which includes the arts—lessons.
There was also a notable presence from NASA at Maker Faire, which included talks about the Hubble space telescope, exploring ways to create habitats on Mars with 3D printing technology, and the growing community of CubeSat creators.
CubeSats are space research nanosatellites, said Garrett Skrobot, mission manager for Educational Launch of Nanosatellites (ELaNA) in the launch services program at NASA. These tiny satellites are typically four inches across, and can be designed by private tinkerers outside of the space agency for potential launch into space.
Maker Faire had a few other intergalactic ideas. Plans to send astronauts to Mars are not just the stuff of movies such as The Martian, set to debut this week. NASA launched a competition, started in May and run by America Makes, for concepts and designs to build habitats on Mars that would be constructed in advance of astronauts traveling there. The idea is to use materials such as basalt from the planet itself, along with other composites, and 3D printing technology to help get the job done.
A team called Martian Domes developed the Hemispheric Habitat proposal, which would locate the mission on the planet’s flat plains, known as Meridiani Planum. Their design was a cluster of domes shaped into hemispheres to form rooms. The surface of the habitat would be dimpled, much like a golf ball, to cut down on drag from sandstorms.
All of the proposals included using 3D printing techniques for construction, but naturally the technology needs to evolve further from its hobbyist roots before it is ready to create parts of functional buildings.