Intel at the Portland Mini-Maker Faire

On the weekend of September 15-16, OMSI hosted the first ever Portland Mini-Maker Faire.  As was the case at the Bay Area Faire, Intel was present as a major sponsor of the event, providing volunteers to help run the Faire and hosting a fun hands-on activity at our Start Making! booth throughout the weekend.  On Saturday, Intel Fellow & Director of Interaction & Experience Research Genevieve Bell gave a talk at the Innovation Stage,on “Ducks, Dolls and Divine Robots”.

The hands-on activity encouraged beginner Makers of all ages to create simple electronic musical instruments.  Using the conductive properties of simple pencil graphite and the metal clip on a clipboard, visitors to the booth could draw and then play their own unique instruments. Makers, young and old, were encouraged to explore the creative possibilities of this simple system, and while they did, they were exposed to some basic concepts about conductivity, simple circuits, input and output, and the importance of grounding!

The handmade instruments were hooked up to a computer via alligator clips and a Makey Makey kit, with one performance area providing drum sounds and the other a set of synth notes.  Kids and adults rocked out with their custom instruments.  We also provided more advanced materials-conductive paint, copper tape, and aluminum foil-for visitors who wanted to construct bigger, more elaborate instruments. Cardboard guitars proved to be a crowd favorite!

The Intel-hosted  activity was a big hit with Maker Faire visitors, from kids through adults.  OMSI estimates attendance at around 2500-3000 people each of the two days.  Intel invests more than a $100 million a year in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) programs because a solid math and science foundation coupled with skills such as critical thinking, collaboration, and problem solving are crucial for students’ success.  Sponsoring events like Portland’s first Mini Maker Faire helps encourage the next generation of young Makers and innovators who, Intel believes, are the key to solving our current and future global challenges.

Also present were two booths of “Intel Makers,” Intel employees and their families who have personal, Maker projects that they pursue in their spare time. Tanenbaum Fabrications (Karen Tanenbaum of Intel Labs and her husband, Josh) exhibited their Steampunk art and electronic component jewelry, while Kinetic Creatures (Lucas Ainsworth of Intel Labs and his partner, Alyssa Hamel) showed off their crowd-pleasing mechanical cardboard creatures.

Along with O’Reilly Media, Cognizant and Pixar, Intel is a founding sponsor of the non-profit Maker Education Initiative whose mission is to create more opportunities for young people to make, and, by making, build confidence, foster creativity, and spark interest in science, technology, engineering, math, the arts—and in learning as a whole.  OMSI is also engaging with the Maker movement, working on plans to turn part of their space into a dedicated Makerspace.

Karen Tanenbaum

About Karen Tanenbaum

Karen Tanenbaum is a graduate intern in the design group of the Interaction & Experience Research lab at Intel Labs. She is also finishing her PhD at the School of Interactive Arts & Technology at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, BC, where her dissertation research is focused on interaction design for tangible and ubiquitous computing. She helped coordinate Intel's presence at the 2012 Maker Faire Bay Area and is working on research projects related to wearable computing, interactive narrative, design fiction, and the Maker and Steampunk movements.

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