For the last two years the Manchester Museum of Science and Industry (MOSI) has been home to a Mini Maker Faire. We’ve attended both, and the kids have always enjoyed the opportunity to get hands on with all sorts of “made” things, from crafts to robots. This year MOSI did something different and held what they called MakeFest, with the tagline Tinker, Maker, Solder, Try. From the descriptions it sounded similar to the previous Faires, so the entire geek family headed up there last Saturday to see what was going on.
The first, noticeable difference between MakeFest and previous events was the location. Whereas the previous events were held in their own space in one of the warehouses at MOSI, this year’s MakeFest spanned across the existing MOSI exhibitions. So there were some stands in the main building, some in the power hall and yet more in the courtyard between the main buildings. This was great as it meant we got a chance to see the main exhibits as well as the Maker stalls, and I thought it worked well.
The very first thing we got the opportunity to do was to design keyrings that would then be printed out on a 3D printer for us to collect later in the day.
Then we had the amazing experience of programming The Baby, the world’s first stored program computer which was built in Manchester and lives at MOSI. This was probably much more of a thrill for the geekdaddy and I than it was for the kids, but I think it was quite an eye-opener for the geekdaughter to see how much work had to go into making The Baby undertake a “simple” task like scrolling her name across its screen.
We saw cool things that people had made themselves, like this infinite box which apparently didn’t cost very much to make but looks really cool:
And the geekson was in his element meeting all the robots:
… including some that were made out of lolly sticks:
But by far the best thing about MakeFest is the chance for the kids to get hands on and make things. We almost missed the best part of this because it wasn’t very obvious that there were stalls up in the Learning Loft, which is on the second floor of the main building, and in my head is the conference centre which we don’t usually go in. It wasn’t particularly clearly signed, but once we found it we were very pleased that we had. The kids got a chance to make a little rainbow caterpillar out of Jumping Clay:
And there was a soldering area where you could buy little electronics kits to make, with help available when needed. The geekson (and I!) made a robot badge with flashing eyes, and the geekdaughter (with help from the geekdaddy) made a little game.
We also enjoyed the area in the courtyard where kids could create their own park in a plastic box made of sand. This was the geeksons’s effort:
And as I mentioned before, mixed in with all this we had the chance to see the permanent MOSI exhibits. The kids got their first experience of a typewriter:
… and we had to spend some time in our favourite part of the museum – Experiment! the hands on area aimed at kids. The geekson always loves being able to lift a mini with his bare hands:
We loved MakeFest, and I very much hope this will be an event that MOSI put on again next year. It was great to be able to give my kids the opportunity to get so “hands on”, and to see that they can make things. It definitely lived up to its Tinker, Maker, Solder, Try tagline, making all sorts of different science activities accessible to all.
MakeFest was free to enter, although some of the activities like the soldering cost money, and MOSI itself always asks for a donation from visitors.