Elliot & Vanessa Go to Maker Faire

Hard to believe - but somehow, until today, we had never made it to Maker Faire: the incredible two-day festival of delirious DIY-engineering-crafting-creativity that happens every year a short 30 minute drive from our home in Palo Alto.

 You know you're going to see cool stuff when the car across from you in the parking lot is an electric Fisker. (Note the solar-paneled roof.)

You know you're going to see cool stuff when the car across from you in the parking lot is an electric Fisker. (Note the solar-paneled roof.)

This year, our friend Christopher invited us to help at his booth: LEDlabs makes an iOS app that drives LED displays - using anything from live video, to shadow puppetry, to photos of the world's youngest climate scientist:

 Elliot up in LED lights at the Bay Area Maker Faire 2014

Elliot up in LED lights at the Bay Area Maker Faire 2014

We had been warned in advance that Maker Faire was huge, and crowded, and overwhelming. It was all true. We decided early on to treat it like New York City: to accept that we'd never be able to see it all, and that whatever we saw would probably be pretty cool. Overall, the approach seemed to work.

 Grace from  Bare Conductive  helped Elliot do some mixology on a paper DIY turntable

Grace from Bare Conductive helped Elliot do some mixology on a paper DIY turntable

 My personal favorite: scooter-powered spirograph!

My personal favorite: scooter-powered spirograph!

I got really inspired at a talk by designer/builder/educator Emily Pilloton, of Project H. She shared several projects in which she had worked with teenagers to design and build meaningful, useful structures for their communities - building not only community resources but also resilience and self-esteem. SO COOL!

 Emily Pilloton from Project H, sharing incredible stories of what she calls "love and audacity".

Emily Pilloton from Project H, sharing incredible stories of what she calls "love and audacity".

 Elliot meets a random wandering robot at Maker Faire 2014.

Elliot meets a random wandering robot at Maker Faire 2014.

 Jon Sarriugarte of  Form & Reform  let Elliot ride his electric trilobite (and wear his cool leather helmet)

Jon Sarriugarte of Form & Reform let Elliot ride his electric trilobite (and wear his cool leather helmet)

Maker Faire can be overwhelming - the noise, the crowds, the lights, the constant stimulation. But towards the end of the afternoon, I found the perfect antidote at the SJSU interactive media booth: a biofeedback station that tracks your brainwaves, and allows you to control images of rocks on a screen by making your mind clear and focused. Who knew it would be possible to meditate right next to a Tesla coil powered by the sound of grinding guitars? And that it would feel so great?

 Meditation Biofeedback, courtesy of SJSU.

Meditation Biofeedback, courtesy of SJSU.