This past weekend, we went to Park Day School in Oakland to participate in East Bay Mini Maker Faire! We brought activities in 2015 and 2016, and this year we continued the tradition of bringing prototype activities with Windup Critters.
Windup Critters is an activity that uses a Lego windup motor, Lego pieces, and everyday craft materials to make a creepy, crawly critter that shakes, wiggles, and moves in interesting ways. The creature can then be introduced into a texture-filled environment and can move across an uneven terrain. We brought laser cut cams, ping pong ball eyes, feathers, and wheels made from tree branches to provide a mashup of Lego and non-Lego materials to explore.
Our goal for the event was to bring the same activity quality with less stuff, so that meant no tube wall! Ryoko designed a flexible and lightweight cardboard wall and tested it out at the event. Visually, it was much less imposing than the tube wall and kids were popping in-and-out of the space through the gaps. And the Lego Duplo blocks were a whimsical and colorful touch to the design. We experimented with signage that was clear and inviting. Intern Ahra Jo's sandwich board highlighted her graphic design skills and my Windup Critters banner was a clear and bright way to draw attention to our booth.
In preparation for the event, we've facilitated Windup Critters in the Tinkering Studio. However, the space design and nature of the event meant we needed to be flexible and adapt our facilitation techniques to the event. We had participants join on both sides of the work table when they chose with easy access to materials. We introduced materials and the idea of making a critter crawl using legs or other mechanisms for movement. This light touch facilitation allowed us to support more people in the space (sometimes up to 25 people!) comfortably.
Overall, it was a great day to be outside tinkering and exploring at a community-centered event. East Bay Mini Maker Faire has a warmth and inviting quality that is makes us want to come back year after year.