Tak’s Nerd Derby at the Maker Fair [final]
World Maker Faire in NYC ended last weekend. Here's a recap with photos and things I've learned from our third year there. First, a little history to put things in context: Nerdy Derby first debut at World Maker Faire, NYC 2012 when I was still a student at ITP, NYU. We wanted to design an installation that allowed multiple participants hands-on experience. We designed a car building workshop to cultivate a 'maker' spirit. After our successful debut as a collective student project we garnered a lot of positive responses. We were invited to NYSci, Marymount School, and shared out construction files so other organizers can host their own Nerdy Derby-type events. This was implemented as far as Santiago Chile. After our second World Maker Faire '13, we decided to organize and start an educational non-for-profit, Nerdy Derby Inc. Our model for teaching is to design a fun-filled environment where learning is tangible, engaging and accessible. We've since developed a few 'creative challenges' as directed and unstructured learning.
This year at World Maker Faire '14, we brought our musical creative challenge, 'Musical Track'. A month earlier I brought this to Governors Island as part of the Nolan Park art installations. Here's a video (please refresh your browser if you don't see a video window below) (//end of video window//)
For Maker Faire we made several improvements from the Governors Island experience and added many things to the programming. First, we tuned all the notes! This display shows how different lengths of the same metal EMT tubings produce particular notes in a musical octave. The calculations were found on Lee Hite's website: PDF page and Main page There's tremendous amount of information here, it behoves everyone to check it out.
The musical track has 20 places for notes to hang from. On top of every note there're conductive pads, an open circuit connected to a solenoid. When the car made of all-metal wheel and axel rolls over the pads, the circuit is closed, triggering the solenoid to swing a mallet and hits that particular note.
For interaction: there were several ways for participants to engage in this installation. We provided Xylophones and worksheets so participates can compose their own melodies before rearranging the notes on the track. The color of the xylophones was our standard colors coding for our metal tubes.
In all, we made 5 each of the 7 notes(2 Cs, one going into the next octave) and 3 of each half notes, 55 notes in all for use in their compositions. The speed of the car was the tempo of their melody.
We had a lot of fun! At the end of the fair we were awarded 2 editor's choice and 2 educational ribbons. I'm personally grateful to receive help from volunteers of friends, SVA and ITP students along with the main Nerdy Derby Crew! Thank you all who came out to take part in this! And a special thanks to everyone at the VFL!!!
A small recap: What I've learned at the end of every big project is the importance of documentation. Every project should be divided into 3 distinct phases: The concept/design & fabrication, The performance or presentation, and finally DOCUMENTATION(this blog.) Documentation should be an active part throughout the entire process but be mindful that the project is never complete until it's been properly documented(and shared.) It's always easier to take a timely photo at the moment than to try to recreate it in the future.
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