This past weekend, The Foundry, the NEK’s own Community Workshop, debuted with a bang at the third annual Champlain Mini Maker Faire. The event came less than a week after the Foundry was officially granted 501c3 Federal Non-Profit status.
The group aimed high with a total of seven displays, a record for the Faire, and drew large crowds to each of their three booths. Inside, they invited visitors to make wire-wrapped jewelry from hand-drawn copper wire. An incredible number of young men and women left with ornate and unique jewelry for themselves or someone special. Outside, they cast intricate pewter medallions and pendants from 3d-printed molds, teaching young people that metal doesn’t have to be off-limits to 3d printers.
The group’s secret weapon was Yuri the Destroyer, a laser-equipped hexapod robot that popped balloons, lit matches, and set off various pyrotechnic targets from the safety of his plywood arena. His message to young makers was simple, “Mad Scientist is a perfectly valid career choice, if you study Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math”. As more than one child proclaimed through the billowing clouds of smoke, “We Love Yuri!”
Other Foundry displays included miniature steam engines, make-your-own guitar picks from old credit cards, a homemade recumbent chopper bicycle, and a collection of homemade musical instruments that kids lined up to play all weekend.
As Doug Webster, founder of the Champlain Maker Faire said, “The Foundry was a great addition to the Champlain Maker Faire. Their team offered a variety of exciting cool projects that was a highlight for attendees. They are doing what all makerspaces can aspire to: building a community of maker enthusiasts.”
Despite Saturday’s inclement weather, over 1500 people attended the Faire. The clouds dispersed by Sunday morning, allowing rocketry demonstrations out on the coach barn lawn, and swelling the crowds to impressive proportions. All in all, the event was an enormous success. According to one reviewer, “It was a spectacular value for the admission cost, and the kids had a blast. Even the rain couldn’t slow us down.”
You can learn more about the Champlain Mini Maker Faire at http://www.champlainmakerfaire.com.