SciTech

Discovery Place celebrates innovation at ‘maker fair’

From robots to 3-D printers to bee-tending, innovation is in the spotlight Saturday at the Charlotte Mini Maker Faire.
From robots to 3-D printers to bee-tending, innovation is in the spotlight Saturday at the Charlotte Mini Maker Faire. discoveryplace.org

If he lived in Charlotte – instead of Springfield for “The Simpsons” – it’s a sure bet Professor John Nerdelbaum Frink Jr. would have a note tucked into his pocket protector that reads “Charlotte Mini Maker Faire, Saturday, Oct. 10 @ Discovery Place.”

He would be among the tinkers, inventors, innovative crafters, techies, educators and others who are gizmo-intrigued. The event is Charlotte’s first “maker fair” – a family-friendly day showcasing unexpected creations.

More than 70 exhibitors will be participating; of them, more than 50 of those “makers” will show their innovations at stations on all three levels of the museum.

Event hours Saturday are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there are on-the-hour workshops.

Exhibits include:

▪ A 3D-printed life-size Shelby Cobra, a replica sports car collaboratively created by the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and TruDesign that shows the potential of 3D printing for automobile manufacturing.

▪ BotHockey, from Carolina Combat Robots, where you can practice the perfect hat trick, and then watch a pair of mechanical gladiators duke it out in the Robot Combat arena.

▪ The “world’s first” 3D-printed kayak, created by GrassRoots Engineering founder Jim Smith.

▪ The musical Tesla Coils, with thousands of volts of electricity producing sparks up to 2 feet long. (Musical? Yes: Different tones are created by different voltage levels.)

The creativity of exhibitors is wide and varied.

Some inventions are quite practical, like the Gyro Bowl, a spill-resistant kids’ gyroscopic bowl with lid. It was created by a team at Edison Nation.

You can learn about home front high-tech from Dan Thyer, whose home automation system uses four different microcontrollers to operate 30 objects around his house, including a water gun and spooky holiday decorations.

Get the full schedule at www.cltmakerfaire.org/attend/schedule-2015.

Creativity displayed at Charlotte Mini Maker Faire is not limited to high technology. Some innovators adapt that for their work in fashion design. (On a related note, The Scrap Exchange is bringing barrels of do-dads, trinkets, etc., you can assemble into something cool you can take home).

One area family will show how they’ve built everything their own beekeeping operation requires.

Additional displays and a performance stage (as well as food trucks) are outside Discovery Place, 301 N. Tryon St.

Indoor activities and displays (includes museum admission): $15; $12 for 13 and younger and for 60 and older. Outdoor events: free. Details: www.discoveryplace.org and www.cltmakerfaire.org.

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