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Science meets circus at the World Maker Faire

Photos by Jed Dore

NEW YORK — This weekend, the do-it-yourself/do try this at home circus known as the World Maker Faire came to New York City for the first time. Held in Queens at the New York Hall of Science Saturday and Sunday, the event was an exciting combination of carnival sideshow and science fair, complete with robots, engineers, rockets and computer geekery. In short, there was more body paint and circuits than you can shake a stick at.

The fair, which was started five years ago in San Mateo, Calif., by the folks behind the project-based magazine MAKE, describes itself as a “showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness” and a “celebration of the DIY mindset.” More than 450 vendors descended on the former site of the 1964 World’s Fair, and visitors of all ages explored such diverse activities as learning how to pick a lock, learning how to solder, trying to stump a robotic Rubik’s Cube master, taking a ride on a rocket-propelled “jet pony,” learning how to knit, screenprinting a T-shirt and marveling at a 25-ton kinetic sculpture inspired by the classic board game Mouse Trap, complete with a bowling ball “marble” that, if everything goes well, starts a chain reaction that ends with a two-ton safe smashing a New York City taxicab.

There were discussions titled “Sustainable Hacker and Maker Spaces” and “Blending Craft and Technology at High-Low Tech”; interactive events such as the “Rock-It Science Cabaret,” a battle of the “science bands”; a snake charmer; and interactive demos on creating your own musical instruments made from trash.

Undoubtedly, there are kids all over New York right now imagining what they can create from the junk in their parents’ basements or designing their own Halloween costumes from old couches, tubes and gold lamé bicycle shorts.

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