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Science fair meets state fair: A truly hands-on chance to get close to the makers and their projects

Necessity might be the mother of invention, but in the case of a maker, it is not their need but their love of creating innovative objects that drives them.

Makers from around New Mexico will congregate to share and show off creations during the Albuquerque Mini Maker Faire on Saturday, April 21, and Sunday, April 22, at the Anderson-Abruzzo Albuquerque International Balloon Museum.

“The maker movement is people who build these crazy, cool projects,” said Craig Goldsmith, core organizer of the faire. “They run the range. Some are highly engineered. We have makers from Intel and the Labs, and on the other end of the scale, we have makers who build from recycled materials. They’re building good stuff using existing materials in new ways or taking existing objects and hacking them or modifying them into something new.”

The event, which is in its seventh year, will feature activities, projects and workshops inside and outside of the Balloon Museum. Rockets, robots, Do-It-Yourself (DIY) science and technology, urban farming and sustainability, alternative energy, handmade crafts and more also will be part of the faire.

Outdoors there will be drone racing. Each drone has a camera attached and the pilots wear virtual reality headsets.

“They’re like these miniature pilots in their aircraft on an obstacle race course,” Goldsmith said. “And they fly in and out of the obstacle course at extremely high speeds over 100 mph.”

Outside attendees can build and shoot off model rockets. La Academia de Esperanza’s Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) class will be bringing its da Vinci bridges and catapults. There also will be tennis ball cannons made out of PVS pipe that attendees can play with. The cannons shoot tennis balls “insanely high” and “insanely far,” Goldsmith said.

Indoors eventgoers can check out various robotics and participate in workshops such as wood shop, where they will learn basic woodworking skills. The goal is to encourage people of all ages to engage in do-it-yourself projects.

“When people ask me what is a Maker Faire, I tell them it’s like a combination between a science fair and a state fair,” Goldsmith said. “Everybody builds these crazy, cool objects in their backyard or labs or shops to bring out to the public. We really try not to have a project behind the glass that you can’t touch or not be able to talk to the person who made it. So people who come can touch stuff, build stuff, talk (with the inventor) about how they made them and what problems they ran into.”

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