The MakerExpo held over 2 days from 2-3 June 2018 in Kitchener ended successfully. We participated in this event for the first time and we enjoyed it very much. It was a busy weekend for us. Over the course of two days, we exhibited several projects, gave two speaker talks, fought with our robots in the BattleBots competition, and met a lot of exhibitors and made new friends.
The MakerExpo was spread over 2 big halls with a separate section for speaker talks -and was very well attended. It was very encouraging to see a large number of families, children, and students attending the MakerExpo and participating in various interactive activities organised by the exhibitors. This included soldering, bracelet making, cardboard forts, looming, handicrafts, toy hacking, photography, making water boats, robotics, and lot more.
What stood out for us was that most of the exhibitors were from the Kitchener-Waterloo area. It speaks of the richness of the Maker Movement and the enthusiasm of the exhibitors to set up their stalls and offer interactive activities to children, youths, and adults. There were lots of student exhibitors too representing their schools and after-school clubs with their robotics and other projects. It was an excellent idea of the organisers to provide exhibition space to professional and amateur makers and it made the event all the more fun and family friendly.
Our Exhibits: Solar-X, Trappist-1, Cosmic Dance, Canada Arm, BattleBots
We had brought several of our projects to the MakerExpo, including the Cosmic Dance installation, the Trappist-1 Model, the Solar-X instrument, and the Canada Arm. This ensured that there was something of interest for all age groups.
We had hundreds of people stop at our stall and learn about our exhibits. We enjoyed explaining our projects to them and the reason we make them.
Most of them were not aware of the #TRAPPIST-1 Exoplanetary system. It was fun telling them about it and see their eyes light up in excitement when they saw the link between the harmonics of the orbital period of the planets and the musical notes.
Our Cosmic Dance Installation was a big draw with small kids and their parents and they loved to see the puppets dance randomly determined by the radiation data gathered from space.
We had lots of kids play with our CanadaArm and it was definitely the most recognizable exhibit and most kids knew about the CanadaArm!
We had also got two of our BattleBots – the BlackHole and the KiloNova and gave demonstrations about them between the BattleBots competition.
The MakerExpo organisers had invited us to give Speaker Talks on both days of the event.
Artash and Arushi gave a talk on Saturday about their favourite Space Projects and how they got into making and coding. They explained the making and desigining process they follow before creating any project, for instance making plans using paper and pencil, and the skills they have picked up after making over 25 space projects.
On Sunday, we gave a collective family talk on our Maker Journey over the last 5 years. We talked about what got us started and how we started to learn programming and making together. The most difficult part of “making anything” is getting started with the first project. Once you make the first project, you learn a lot and start to improve and do things better…. and the learning then never stops! Some of the people attending the talks later came at our stall to see our projects on display.
Artash and Arushi also participated in the BattleBots competition organised by Bot Brawl on both the days in the 1 pound and 30 pounds category. Artash’s Bot was the 30 pound BlackHole while Arushi’s Bot was the newly constructed 1 pound KiloNova.
They won some fights and lost the others. Interestingly both their Bots got totally burnt up during the combat on day 1. Our 30 pound bot “the BlackHole” had smoke coming out of it and our 1 pound bot “the KiloNova” had both its motors and wheels destroyed.
As Artash and Arushi had made their Bots from the scratch, they were able to replace the parts, fix the damage, and bring both the bots into action once again. This was a very useful exercice in maintaining and repaing the Bots and would be useful in future competitions.
Meeting Other Exhibitors
On both the exhibition days, we arrived a little bit earlier to meet with other exhibitors and learn about the projects they were doing. We also took part in some interactive activities including soldering, and driving small robots.
It was a busy but a well spent weekend. We thank the organisers of MakerExpo for their efforts in setting up such an event and for providing us an avenue to exhibit our projects and share our love of space, science, and outreach.
We learnt a lot from MakerExpo and will be using the learnings in our new projects and hope to be back there again next year!