A robotic dog, Meccano spirograph and Sydney’s first Mini Maker Faire

Aibo entertainment robot. Powerhouse Collection object 2000/12/1.
Aibo entertainment robot. Powerhouse Collection object 2000/12/1.

On 24 November 2013, the Powerhouse Museum will host a Mini Maker Faire. This is a spin-off from the US Maker Faire movement, which encourages individuals to make things and share the joy of making. We don’t plan to have our Aibo robotic dog on display for the event, but we do expect some exciting robots to visit along with their makers. There will be other electronic projects, an interactive musical instrument and 3D printers in action, plus food, jewellery, handbags and other accessories made by people who are passionate about the making process.

Meccano spirograph. PowerhouseMuseum Collection object 2010/1/88. Donated through the Australian Government's Cultural Gifts Program in memory of Associate Professor Allan Bromley, 2010.
Meccano spirograph. Powerhouse Museum Collection object 2010/1/88. Donated through the Australian Government’s Cultural Gifts Program in memory of Associate Professor Allan Bromley, 2010.

Just as an earlier generation used Meccano to give form to things imagined, Arduino and Raspberry Pi electronic platforms are helping youngsters create a wide range of things today. Peter Mahony, our Learning & Technology Manager, is the driving force behind the Mini Maker Faire as well as behind Thinkspace and the Museum’s own Thinker1, a programmable electronics lab that fits in the palm of your hand. You don’t have to be a youngster, or a nerd, to learn about the possibilities of this low-cost open-source approach to creating useful or artistic interactive projects.

Anatomical model of human hand. PowerhouseMuseum Collection object H1718. Gift of SydneyTechnical College, 1894.
Anatomical model of human hand. Powerhouse Museum Collection object H1718. Gift of Sydney Technical College, 1894.

The human hand is complex and capable, but in the modern world many hands spend hours each day tapping, swiping and mousing, small movements that serve workplace drudgery as well as creativity and communication. Many people would find it rewarding to re-connect with a richer world of materials, devices, machines and tools and discover the delight of making things. I invite you to come along to the Maker Faire (free after Museum entry) and make the connection. Perhaps you will be inspired to take part next time and share your creations with other visitors.

Written by Debbie Rudder, Curator.

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