Exactly 5 years ago
, Greater Kansas City 2600 moved our meeting location to the coffee shop inside Barnes & Noble Booksellers due to loud music and television sets adding to the noise and distraction of the food court at Oak Park Mall. The venue has been great. Tonight, it was extra-special, as B&N has partnered with Make:
to host Mini Maker Faires, apparently in all of their stores this weekend. This was quite a surprise to us, as all of a sudden, a "these are our people" moment was upon us.
Most of the curious onlookers were younger than 15, and more than half of them were girls. Two local FIRST Robotics
teams were present, demonstrating two classes of competition. A local maker was showing kids how to use plastic "refrigerator tubing" water line and thick wire to build inexpensive marble roller-coasters, and a store employee was demonstrating several products to an excited audience of youngsters and curious adults alike. A 3D printer, programmable robots and Minecraft came up as interesting gateways to the joys of making things. Programming books geared for children were openly on display.
The product demo was a little bit sales-pitchy, but the kids had lots of questions about the 3D printers and robot kits for
sale -- and they were genuinely interested in the creative aspects, not
just to use as toys. It's easier to sigh a relief for the future of our species knowing that the next generation is exploring the kinds of tech that folks my age could only have dreamed of at their age.
Some of us talked to a few students and a middle-school shop teacher that's looking to pick up a small fleet of 3D printers for the school district. We talked to the FIRST Robotics teams about making, hacking, problem solving, and technology in general. I took some photos as things were closing down. I didn't want to be the creepy guy photographing swarms of children in public. The event is apparently going on all weekend.