Saturday, May 31, 2008

A Trip to the Redwoods

[ click to play QuickTime movie - music by R. E. M. ]

Took the eighth graders on a trip to Prairie Creek. My earlier, snarky post about the trip has been removed, with continued apologies to the innocent.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Maker Faire - Boy Meets Robot

click for slide show

Went to the Maker Faire in San Mateo this weekend with my brother and my nephew. The event was exactly as organized as you would expect from a bunch of beatniks and nerds - it was horrible. But now that I know the deal, I think I can prepare for next year and make a better run thru.

Bringing a 5-year old boy has its plusses and minuses. We waited nearly 40 minutes and held some primo seats to the RoboGames event. We saw one fantastic battle between a battle-bot with a big spinning device and a really fast flipper-bot (the flipper bot won after taking some serious punishment!). The boy, however, was scared to death and could not handle a second bout. Then, once we got home, he couldn't stop talking about the robot battle; everything became a robot battle (playing with matchbox cars, playing with stuffed animals, playing with food, etc). Oh well. Next year, we load him up on robot YouTube videos and get some foam ear plugs, and maybe he'll make it thru a few more matches. That was cool!

We tried to get on some of the funky rides, but by the time we got out "liability waiver bracelets", some strange stage show was underway, and all the rides appeared to be closed. What's that about?

Then we watched some model rocket launches. My nephew was interested enough that we tried to go make our own rocket so we could launch, but they had just run out of kits, and we could only watch. Note that we had gotten there about mid-day, and they had run out of kits already. Rats.

The event was really big, but still really crowded. The big hall was crammed full of smaller stalls, and that may have been the most fun, especially since my nephew seemed to find enough to do there. He liked the homemade robot displays, the musical devices were also really fun. There were a few commercial booths (like Radio Shack), but most of it seemed to be in that homebrew spirit that we had hoped to see. And, of course, we got to meet Russell the Giraffe.