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A world of creativity
May 19, 2012, 05:00 AM By Heather Murtagh Daily Journal Staff

Heather Murtagh/Daily Journal One exhibit was a hair-raising experience during Education Day at the Maker Faire at the San Mateo Event Center Thursday.

Heather Murtagh/Daily Journal Anne Mayoral, of the SpinBots! Make your own ArtBot workshop, holds an ArtBot while fourth grader students McKenzie, left to right, Ezra and Sophie blow on hot glue added to the bot during Education Day at the Maker Faire at the San Mateo Event Center Thursday. The girls were experimenting to see what happened when the bots were altered.

"Uh oh! Robot down,” Christopher Myers said when a ArtBot traveled off the white sheets of paper on the ground.

Made of surplus/recycled motors, switches and laser-cut parts, the art bots had markers attached thanks to rubber bands. When placed on the paper, beautiful color designs were created. Those designs could be altered by adding a weight to the motor.

Fourth graders from Kennedy Elementary School in Newark were eager to tweak the artistic robots.

Anne Mayoral, who was helping with the workshop during Education Day at the Maker Faire at the San Mateo Event Center Thursday, helped by adding hot glue to the contraption.

Ten-year-olds McKenzie. Ezra and 9-year-old Sophie blew on hot glue before giving it a go. The addition changed the path of the toy, creating a smoother pattern.

Myers explained the toy is designed to allow kids to put them together, try new things and see what happens.

"There’s no right or wrong,” he said.

The toy was meant to give children a chance to make something that does something, as opposed to a craft that would be placed on the refrigerator. It’s also an introduction into electronics and creating questions that they can answer by continuing to play with the bot.

It’s one of many activities for people to try this weekend at the Maker Faire, being held at the San Mateo Event Center, and expected to draw more than 100,000 people from all over. On Thursday, a limited number of the activities were set up to encourage children by showcasing what everyday people can make.

Nine-year-old Sophie enjoyed herself.

"I like how we get to make things,” she said while molding a clay person for a claymation booth.

Nearby, Peter Gardner helped children make a glovetopus — an octopus made from gloves.

"We’re just stuffing the fingers. No thumbs,” he told students ranging in age from elementary school to college who were putting a pillow stuffing into gloves. Others were sewing the gloves together to make a cuddly friend they could take home.

Cruising around the event were 12-year-olds Nicholas Forbes and James Fleming, sixth graders from Mill Valley who call themselves the Mill Valley Makers.

In their mobile contraption, the boys explained how the original plan was to build a tank. But the cost for parts was steep. Instead, their vehicle was outfitted with a fan, cup holder, a speaker that could be hooked up to an iPhone, room for both to ride and a rope with a handle to tow friends riding on a skateboard. They will be cruising around on Saturday showcasing their work.

Lights can be seen through Erik Johnson’s shirt. From Dublin, Johnson was on hand at his booth PersonaLED which features products with LED lights that are wearable, durable and can be programmed. Children stopping by were taken by a larger scale version of the small LED lights which radiated colors often turning the children’s faces shades of red.

Johnson had earplugs in for good reason. His booth is set up near the stage ArcAttack, a group from Austin, Texas, was using to play music and play with singing Tesla coils — a form of plasma speaker modified to produce musical tones by creating a spark output. The lighting-looking product is a fun addition to the music played.  

These are just examples of the many things families can experience. There is fun with bubbles and a truck that, with a push of a button, disperses fire. Oversized creations like an electronic giraffe one can ride on and lighted sculptures are sprinkled throughout.

Attending is a chance to meet with people thinking outside the box but using it in their day-to-day lives, from cycling and food to robotics and education.

The Maker Faire will be held rain or shine 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, May 19 and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, May 20 at the San Mateo Event Center, 1345 Saratoga Drive, San Mateo. Tickets are $30 for adults, $20 for students, and $15 for youth ages 4 to 12. Parking is $20 per day at the Event Center. Free parking is available at the College of San Mateo, 1700 W. Hillsdale Blvd., and Oracle, 300 Oracle Parkway, Redwood City. Both locations will have a shuttle on site. Those willing to walk 10 to 20 minutes can also find free parking at Franklin Templeton, 1 Franklin Parkway, Crossroads, 1875 S. Grant St. and Cornerstone, 1720 S. Amphlett Blvd. For more information visit

Heather Murtagh can be reached by email: or by phone: (650) 344-5200 ext. 105.

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