Tag Archives: Westport Maker Faire

All’s Faire

Thousands of folks — of all ages, from across the area, with a wide range of interests but united by curiosity and creativity — descended on Westport today.

The 8th annual Maker Faire runs now through 4 p.m. on Veterans Green and in the Baldwin parking lot (off Elm Street, between Brooks Corner and Christ & Holy Trinity Church).

From astronomy to terrariums, electromagnetics to music, pickleball to ratatouille, there’s something for everyone.

Including the world’s largest 3D duck.

History in the making: the world’s largest 3D printed duck takes shape right now.

I have no idea what this kid is doing, but it looks cool.

Music meets technology.

Maker Faire Makes Its Mark Next Weekend

The 8th annual Maker Faire gallops into Westport this Saturday (April 27).

Part science fair, part country fair, part carnival, it’s an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, artists, students and commercial exhibitors.

They show off what they’ve made, share what they’ve learned, and geek out with a few thousand other like-minded folks.

Over 100 makers have signed up already. They include:

  • “Game of Drones” (sponsored by Sacred Heart University Engineering): flight simulators, plus drone building, training and programming
  • “The Future is Now” (David Adam Realty): home automation, electric vehicles (and a live band)
  • “STEM on Wheels” (University of Bridgeport): Connecticut’s first mobile laboratory bus, with robotics, coding, imaging systems and more
  • “The Great Duck Project” (Westport Sunrise Rotary): Help build the world’s largest 3D printed duck!
  • “Nerdy Derby” (Stanley Black & Decker): Build, decorate and race a custom car
  • “Sustainable Pathways”: Hands-on activities and exhibits, geared to making sustainability part of daily life.

Makers will be joined by artists, musicians, stage performers, speakers, entrepreneurs — and of course food trucks.

(The Maker Faire takes place this Saturday, April 27, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Veterans’ Green and in the Baldwin parking lot. Opening ceremonies take place at 10:45 a.m. Admission is free. For more information click here, email mark@remarkablesteam.org, or call 203-226-1791.)

The Maker Faire’s “Game of Drones”

Single-Stream Glass Recycling: We Can Do Better!

Confused about single-stream recycling? You’re not alone. Since Westport went to this method, there seem to be more questions than answers.

Environmentally conscious Staples High School junior George Nelson sent these thoughts to “06880”:

In the 1970s, recycling became a common American practice. To many, it’s a way of being environmentally friendly. When people recycle they believe they are doing the earth and their community justice. But your recycling may not end up where you think it does.

In fact, the United States is actually going backwards. Across the nation, dozens of communities are completely ending their recycling programs. This results in more garbage buried or burned.

The reason? It has become too expensive for some towns to afford. China — once the US’ #1 customer of recycling waste — no longer accepts used plastics, glass, metal, cardboard and paper, due to high levels of contamination.

This caused recycling prices to skyrocket. In some cities, recycling costs have nearly quadrupled since last year.

In Westport we are lucky enough to continue recycling, though at great expense (up to $65 a ton). Our town produces 3,300 tons of recyclable waste annually. However, not all of that waste is actually recycled.

Single stream recycling

Single-stream means that all recyclables — paper, cardboard, plastic, glass, metal cans, etc. — go into one bin. This is much easier for residents than separating recyclables into different bins. When Westport changed from separating different types of recycling to single stream, the rate of recycling increased by over 30%.

Although this is the easiest way to recycle, it leads to an abundance of contamination, such as plastic bags and styrofoam being put in recycling bin. Even more problematic is when particles of broken glass end up in paper and cardboard, rendering them useless as recyclables.

Nearly 25% of single-stream recycling goes to the incinerator. That figure can reach 40% for glass recyclables. What is so frustrating is that glass is one of the best recyclable materials. It can be continuously recycled and reused in its original form, through a relatively easy process.

When glass is recycled it is brought to a recycling facility. Once there, it is smashed into tiny pieces and sorted by color by an infrared light.

The glass is then washed. The broken, sorted glass is then shipped to yet another facility, where it is melted down and finally ready to be reused. Most of the glass is remade into other glass products such as bottles or jars. Some recycled glass is used in asphalt for roads, or mixed with beach sand to prevent erosion.

Separating single-stream recycling.

Although it’s most common, single-stream recycling is not the best option for glass. Westporters must make a better effort to recycle glass.

One way is to bring glass-redeemable bottles (beer, soda) to a deposit redemption machine at grocery stores, or a redemption center.

Another is to wash and reuse glass bottles and jars.

If you do continue recycling glass single stream, make sure to clean the glass and place it in the bin in one piece.

NOTE: The Sustainable Westport Advisory Team (formerly the Westport Green Task Force), whose mission is to support Westport’s goal to be a sustainable, thriving community, will promote waste reduction at the Maker Faire April 27. Look for the zero waste stations, and the Sustainable Westport “Maker” table.

Westport’s Goal: A World Record Duck

Each spring, a giant inflatable duck floats in the Saugatuck River. It’s a fun, funny promotion for the Sunrise Rotary Club’s Great Duck Race.

This spring, he gets a companion.

On April 27, the 8th annual Maker Faire features a Great Duck Project. Attendees will try to set a world record for the largest 3D printed duck.

It’s “the first of its kind global crowd-sourcing science and art initiative,” says Mark Mathias. He’s the founder of the Westport’s Maker Faire, and a Sunrise Rotary member.

Artist’s rendering of the 6-foot 3D duck.

“Global” is no exaggeration. People from around the world are invited to 3D print and submit pieces. They’ll be combined into a 6-foot tall, 476-piece duck.

Mathias takes “around the world” literally. He reached out to the McMurdo station in Antarctica, to see if they’ll participate.

He even went galactic, asking if the International Space Station could print a part, then return it to earth on a supply mission. (Party-pooping NASA said no.)

But keeping the Great Duck Project terrestrial should be interesting enough.

Don’t have your own 3D printer? No sweat. There are plenty around, in libraries, schools and offices.

Once the world-record duck is printed, it won’t disappear. You can see it at the Memorial Day parade — and, of course, the Great Duck Race.

Quack!

(The Great Duck Project is a collaboration of the Westport Sunrise Rotary Club and Greens Farms Academy, which serves as the “technical lead.” For more information or to participate, click here. or contact Mark Mathias: mark@remarkablesteam.org; 203-226-1791.)

If You Make It, They Will Come

The 7th annual Westport Maker Faire is underway.

Over 12,000 people will wander all around downtown, from now through 4 p.m.

From Jesup Green to Toquet, Branson and Town Halls — plus the Baldwin parking lot and Seabury Center — they’ll watch (and participate) in hundreds of activities.

Robots, Vorpal the Hexapod, Myrmidon Dagorhir the medieval re-enactors, TecKnow smart homes, nerf guns, food trucks, gubernatorial candidates — they and much, much, much, much more are there for the gawking.

Get in touch with your inner geek. Go!

Action figure meets EMTs, as a mannequin on a gurney hangs out.

Making art at the Maker Faire. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

I went to the Maker Faire, and all I got was this photo with some medieval jousters. (Photo/Terry Brannigan)

Shadow puppets intrigue these youngsters. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

The band Verbatim — with Eamonn Brannigan, TJ Brannigan and Claire Halman — play at Bedford Square.

First Selectman Jim Marpe visits an exhibit. (Photo/Larry Untermeyer)

What’s a fair without a clown?

Unsung Hero #44

When the 7th annual Maker Faire takes over Westport this Saturday (April 21), there will be something for everyone.

A record 12,000+ attendees — tech lovers, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science geeks, artists, authors, students and exhibitors — will share what they’ve made, see what others have created, teach, learn, be inspired, and inspire others.

And have tons of fun.

It’s a massive undertaking. Planning began the moment last year’s Maker Faire — which drew “only” 10,500 people — ended.

Hundreds of volunteers make it happen. But none of it would be possible without Mark Mathias.

Mark Mathias

Westport’s event– part of a worldwide movement (and of all 772 Maker Faires in 44 countries, among the top 5% in attendance) — was his brainchild.

In September 2011, his kids were fascinated by the New York Maker Faire.

Seven months later — thanks to Mathias’ work with the Westport Library, Sunrise Rotary and Downtown Merchants Association — we had our own “Mini Maker Faire.”

The “mini” is long gone. Now — with activities spread across the Library, Jesup Green, Taylor parking lot, Bedford Square, Town Hall and Veterans Green — it’s as maxi as it gets.

But the Maker Faire is not Mathias’ only local contribution. He’s in his 15th year on the Board of Education; is an active member of Saugatuck Congregational Church (with a particular interest in their mission trips), and when his daughter Nicole was at Staples High School, he was an avid supporter of the music department.

Mathias — whose professional background is in IT — is president of Remarkable Steam. The non-profit promotes innovation and creativity in the areas of STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Math).

This is Mark Mathias’ busiest time of year. Hopefully, he’ll take a few moments out of his hectic day to accept our thanks, as this week’s Unsung Hero.

Robots galore at last year’s Maker Faire.

(For more information on Westport’s Maker Faire, click here. To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Maker Faire Adds Governor Candidates

On Saturday, downtown Westport will teem with more than 12,000 Maker Faire-goers. Intrepid, curious, creative and resourceful, they’ll listen, ask questions and learn all about technology, arts and crafts, food, robotics, art, transportation and a whole lot more.

Curiosity is also a hallmark of the electoral process. Already, 31 people have filed to run for governor of Connecticut this fall. That’s a huge number — and it mirrors interest across the country in the upcoming midterm elections.

Eighteen of those candidates will be at the Maker Faire. From 12:30 to 2 p.m. at Town Hall, they’ll share their visions and dreams for the state. The Gubernatorial Forum is sponsored by Westport’s League of Women Voters, in conjunction with Maker Faire.

Hopefuls include Democrats, Republicans, independents and unaffiliateds. They come from all across Connecticut.

Two of the 31 candidates are from Westport. Marisa Manly (unaffiliated) will have the shortest trip of anyone. Republican Steve Obsitnik could also have walked there, but has a conflict and can’t make it.

The forum is free, and open to the public.

Every year, Westport’s Maker Faire gets bigger. This year it reaches all the way to the governor’s mansion.

Maker Faire: Facts And Figures

This Saturday’s Maker Faire promises to be the biggest yet.

It’s also one of the biggest in the world. Last year, Westport drew 10,500 attendees. That made the top 5% of all 772 Maker Faires on the planet.

This year’s attendance could break 12,000.

A few other facts:

  • The physical footprint has tripled. Events and attractions are scheduled for the Westport Library, Jesup Green, Taylor parking lot, Bedford Square, Town Hall and Veterans Green.
  • There are nearly 200 “makers” — double the previous number.
  • 6 stages — up from only 1 in the past — will showcase talented people and organizations in the arts, sciences, music and politics.

Large attractions include:

  • Truckers Alley: a collection of large vehicles with large ideas
  • Tiny Homes Hamlet: a collection of tiny homes
  • Tiny Farmers’ Market: a taste of upcoming farmers’ markets
  • Medieval Village and Tavern: entertainment and local brews
  • PlasmaBot: the world’s largest glass and plasma marionette
  • Aviation: a half-sized model of Gustave Whitehead’s plane, plus drones and a panel
  • Air Rocket Challenge: build cardboard rockets — and launch them
  • CTNext Entrepreneurial Innovation Awards: for emerging businesses
  • Game of Drones: an exhibition of drone skills in tight spaces
  • Nerdy Derby: build, decorate and race cars
  • Musicians: an orchestra, steel band, and Israeli music
  • Artists: working in textiles, paint, recycled materials, even bones.

There’s much, much, much more, too. For details, click here.

(Photo/Lynn U. Miller)

Maker Faire Makes Top 5%

There are Maker Faires all over the world.

New York has one. Rome, Paris, Beijing. Hong Kong too.

Westport’s got a Maker Faire — and a damn good one.

But what we also share with those much bigger cities is that all of them are in the top 5 percent of attendance globally.

That’s right. Of the 772 Maker Faires in 44 countries, only 37 had more than 10,000 attendees.

Our “little” event on Jesup Green drew 10,500.

In addition to 10,500 attendees, last year’s Maker Faire drew plenty of robots.

That should give organizers a smile. And it may push you to apply to be part of this year’s Maker Faire. It’s Saturday, April 21.

The deadline is this Thursday (March 15). They’re looking for the usual: “artists, musicians, engineers, craftsmen, entrepreneurs, students, teachers, businesspeople, comedians, and creative people of all ages and backgrounds to inspire attendees with what we as humans can do.” Click here for more information.

And if you’re not creative, but have a company that wants to sponsor this very popular (top 5%!) event, contact Mark Mathias (mark@remarkablesteam.org, 203-226-1791).

FAA Pilots A Drone Course

One of the highlights of last April’s Maker Faire came when a Federal Aviation Administration official awarded Staples High School sophomore/aspiring drone operator Ryan Felner his Remote Pilot Airman certificate. (For the back story on how it happened — after Ryan thought his life was ruined — click here.)

This month, Westport is once again on the FAA’s radar.

From July 24-28, the agency will help sponsor the nation’s 1st-ever Unmanned Aircraft Systems Aviation Career Education Academy.

That’s ACE for short. And “Unmanned Aircraft Systems” is government-speak for “drones.”

Brandon Malin’s drone view of the Staples High School pops concert at Levitt Pavilion.

The course is designed for 16-20-year-olds. Students will learn how to safely fly a drone, through hands-on instruction and more.

Hopefully, they’ll then pass the FAA Remote Pilot Certification test (July 31 and August 1).

The course will be held at Staples High School. Tuition of $200 covers all materials. The certification test is an additional $150.

And no, you do not have to own your own drone. They’re provided.

For more information or to sign up, click here; call Mark Mathias at 203-226-1791 or email mark@remarkablesteam.org.

(In addition to the FAA, the course is co-sponsored by the Academy of Model Aeronautics, Remarkable STEAM, Westport Public Schools and the Westport Library.)

David Pogue’s drone.