At the beginning of this month I had a great opportunity to run a workshop at the stupendous Science Museum in London. Admittedly this was my first time to the museum that I can remember. School always favoured the Natural History Museum next door, because dinosaurs. I could write another blog on my my love of the Natural History Museum, it was a really special pleasure to walk past it on my way to work for five days.
It's a beautiful building that still gives me chills thinking about its contents and my childhood geeky wonderment.
The Science Museum was going to have to be pretty special to compete and oh my gosh it really is special. As I was there to work I wasn't able to enjoy the exhibits quite as much as I would have liked but it was something quite special to walk past items like Stevenson's Rocket, a Rolls Royce Merlin Engine and a full sized Lockheed Electra airliner as I meandered my way to the Make. Hack. Do event.
Make. Hack. Do was set out to allow people to create electronic instruments from vegetables, build and program robots and get hands-on with 3D printing in a free festival. Where participants could design, hack and program in a series of workshops and meet the artists and inventors using electronics and 3D printing in innovative ways. It opened with a "Lates" event where grown ups with beer came along to find out what we were up to. It was a great way to start the festival as it was possible to test my plans of how to run the workshops, with an understanding, relaxed yet enthusiastic crowd.
The next four days were advertised as suitable for ages 10 and above, in reality as long as a child was able to be attentive and hold a screwdriver they got to build robots! One lad came over and told me he was only five but he was "very good" and proceeded to build his claw faster and better than a group of 12 year olds that built along with him! Other workshops and activities included exploring creative uses of electronics and 3D printing, creating colourful 3D printed sculptures, helping stitch a tapestry made of electronic thread and sculpting circuits with special electronic playdough. It's possible we'll be copying the squishy circuits workshop locally in August.
It was quite incredible to be among some fantastic artists and inventors from across the UK at Make.Hack.Do demonstrating how electronics and 3D printing can be used for art and music. Musical objects hacked together by Royal College of Art students were on show and along with some intricate 3D printed art by Tobias Klein. LiveCodeLab showed how anyone can create live music using computer coding and Ototo turned furniture, toys and even vegetables into musical instruments using electronics.
One of the many highlights of the festival was meeting this young man and his father who were visiting from Switzerland. In the last week he'd downloaded the files of our #meArm robot arm and cut his own from balsa wood using a CNC milling machine. He had me sign a flier! It was fantastic meeting someone who had built their own arm, one of the many reasons we support open hardware. I think he wrote this in the guest book too. Really made my day!
The festival was supported by Airbus Group, Renishaw, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the University of Nottingham. Two of whom supported my PhD, so extra thanks to EPSRC and the University of Nottingham. There are thanks for all of the organisers and volunteers. It was really well run and I was even able to take a break for lunch, that's really special in an event like this!
Overall it was an amazing five days and a spectacular event in a world class venue. It was great to be a part of it.