Geek Group puts on science Mini Maker Faire, offers tours on Geek Lab
By Sarah Harmon
EW Emma’s Writings
Grand Rapids, MI-Whether or not you are a self-proclaimed nerd, last weekend’s Mini Maker Faire was the place to be. Maker Faires have been held in major cities around the country to show off all kinds of science, technology, inventions, and general DIY projects, although this year was the first for Grand Rapids. It took place on Aug. 30 and Aug. 31.
This isn’t your average science fair; a Maker Faire is like a hands-on mad scientist’s laboratory. If you were driving through downtown and happened to pass the Grand Rapids Public Museum, you saw the world’s largest Newton’s Cradle made with bowling balls, a real yellow submarine, and exhibits on solar power. If you were there at the right time, you might have even seen a Tesla electric car or watched a piece of aluminum foil getting vaporized by electricity with a boom and a puff of smoke. In addition to those, there were dozens more exhibits inside.
The Geek Group was responsible for some of the most remarkable demonstrations. In addition to vaporizing aluminum foil, or rather, “tin foil of science,” they had a small machine where you could learn about nuclear fusion while watching it happen. My personal favorite was the musical Tesla coil. If you’ve ever seen The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, you probably thought how cool it was that he made music with what were essentially lightening bolts and Tesla coils. This isn’t just movie magic anymore, and Grand Rapids is the only place in the world you can see it. The Geek Group developed the only Tesla coil able to play more than one tone at a time. This means instead of sounding like old Nintendo music, theirs can, and does, play Imagine Dragons songs.
If you’re more into making music than playing catch with robots, there were booths showing how guitars are made and the Happy Ukelele Group ready to hand you a ukelele and teach you to play it. Kids could play a giant version of Jenga, paint a sign to take home, burn their name into wood with a magnifying glass and sunshine, or even have a simple drawing turned into a cookie cutter with a 3D printer. Young or old, you couldn’t help being amazed by everything there you could see and do.
If you missed out this time, you don’t have to wait a year to experience all of the remarkable science and technology from the Faire. The Geek Group has tours of their Leonard Street lab every Saturday at 12:30pm where you can see the machines they brought and countless other projects that make learning about science just about the coolest thing ever.
Copyright (c) 2014 story and photos by Sarah Harmon