Highlights from AMNH’s Booth at World Maker Faire NYC 2013

I wrote earlier about our plans at the Museum to offer activities at this year’s Maker Faire (Scientists, Dinosaurs, Origami… Oh My! Event Schedue for AMNH at Maker Faire NY). It was some amazing list of sheer awesome. But I haven’t had a chance until now to share some of it. Below are just a few of the highlights:

The video below shows Aki Watanabe, a Paleontologist and graduate student from the  Museum, playing and critiquing a card game about the history and practice within his field with a college, high school, and elementary school youth while filming it with his Google Glasses (image stabilized via YouTube, which for some reason makes the Dino Skull dance), talking about his recent dig in Mongolia, and playing over a giant 3D-printed Allosaurus skull developed (with the youth holding the cards) in a summer program that scanned dozens of bones in the Museum’s collections to rebuild the complete dinosaur. This video shows the start of the hour while crowds gathered and watched.

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One of my favorite parts of the booth was the Great Dino Skull Challenge:

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People stepped up to compete to be the first team to reconstruct their skull (the giant 3D print was broken into 20 parts and is connected with magnets). However, to earn parts of the puzzle, teams were required to answer paleontological questions (e.g. Are all dinosaurs extinct? True or false?). I took a Vine of one challenge, shown below in a loop, of one of the more unusual face-offs. This is a group of youth exhibiting at the Faire with the robot they built – and USING that robot in the competition. It was a real human vs. machine battle and, unfortunately, humanity lost… (get ready for our robot overlords)

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The robot reappeared another time, assisting Museum Paleontologist Hong-yu Yi after she presented to the crowd and was willing to compete in the challenge – this time robot/scientist vs. kids. (I think this time the kids won).

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Speaking of Museum scientists, another ten Museum scientists (okay seeven plus three staff) spoke to the visiting crowds. Below, for example, Astrophysics Curator Mordecai-Mark Mac Low answering questions about the universe:

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Here is Carly Tribull sharing her work on parasitoid wasps:

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And here is Ed Stanley, explaining 3D printed models of specimens he studies and scanned to better understand:

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We also had many cool people drop by from amazing institutions, like Mitch Resnick from the M.I.T. Media Lab and Bre Pettis (pictured below with myself and one of the many youth who helped run the booth), the co-founder and CEO of MakerBot.

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Okay, the photo below will take some explaining. It looks like a child playing with some 3D printed objects, but actually this is something else. The orange head is one of Ed Stanley’s, from his research. But the blue and green dinosaur were not 3D printed. In fact, they come from molds almost fifty years old! Maker Faire is held on the ground of the old 1964/5 Worlds Fair. One of the popular items at the Fair were wax mold dinosaur machines – Mold-O-Rama machines. Put in your money, watch the two halves of the metal mold come together, imagine the wax pouring in through the tubes, and a few minutes later out came your still-warm dinosaur. They disappeared long ago from NYC, but are still in many tourist locations around Chicago. I found one at the Field Museum last March and couldn’t resist printing a few to take home. And when I realized I was going to Maker Faire with 3D printers I just had to bring the antecedents of our new craft along to keep them company AND to help them make a pilgrimage to their place of origin.

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Another activity at the booth, along with origami and Papel Picado, was learning about and gluing together four bones from the toe of an Allosaurus.

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Whatever else might have been going on, there was always a crowd around the 3D printers, attracting both young and old, as dinosaur bones were printed and handed out:

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Finally, by the end of the Faire, we took home two ribbons – one for Educator’s Choice and one for Editor’s Choice. But that was just icing on the cake. The best part was the impact had by forty Museum staff who helped out over two days, and the other dozen or more who contributed time and effort before the event (from departments all around the Museum), as they connected with around 1,200 people, educating and engaging them around science content and displaying the Maker-style activities that can be found throughout the museum’s programs.

In addition to the @AMNH booth receiving the Educator's Choice award we can now add @MakerFaire 's Editor's Choice!

You can see MANY more of the photos and the activities here.

About Barry

The Associate Director For Digital Learning, Youth Initiatives at the American Museum of Natural History.
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2 Responses to Highlights from AMNH’s Booth at World Maker Faire NYC 2013

  1. Pingback: Makers and DML – Separated At Birth? | Moosha Moosha Mooshme

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