Creativity runs wild at Open Make exhibit

April 20, 2012 7:22:09 PM PDT
Usually when you go to a museum you're looking at exhibits made by other people, maybe a famous artist, but the Exploratorium in San Francisco is turning that idea upside down. Now you can create your own exhibit. It's part of a resurgence in making things. Good old American ingenuity is now trendy again.

There's an event called Open Make -- a once-a-month event where people reconnect with how things work. There's no right or wrong -- just tools, a wild collection of supplies, and imagination.

"I feel like people destroy a lot of things, so it's nice to create something," said Emily Schweizer, 10 years old.

"It's really about getting your hands on things and investigating," said Karen Wilkinson from the Exploratorium.

A lot of visitors really get into it. Henry, 6, has been working for an hour and a half to take apart a typewriter.

Ben Cowden from Oakland came to inspire others with his invention -- a lollipop licking machine.

"I kind of wanted to look at well, what happens if you are licking a lollipop, but it's three feet away and you can't actually taste it," said Cowden.

Sharon Searles from Mill Valley is making jewelry out of old binoculars.

"It's the most fun on earth, you got to try it," said Searles.

That kind of enthusiasm has created what's known as the "maker movement."

"This do-it-yourself spirit that really... there's a resurgence, partly because of the economy, partly because of the creativity that's in all of us," said Wilkinson.

San Francisco's hands-on science museum -- the Exploratorium -- is helping lead the way.

"The Bay Area is a hot spot for making and tinkering," said Wilkinson.

The Exploratorium's Open Make days were developed in partnership with "Make Magazine" - headquartered in Sonoma County. The magazine also puts on an annual Maker Faire in San Mateo. Last year the faire attracted 100,000 people and has inspired similar events all over the world.

Making things is so hot right now, the Exploratorium plans to make it a big part of the new museum they're building on the San Francisco waterfront. It's under construction at Pier 15.

The tinkering studio and all the do-it yourself activities are part of a trial run for the new facility.

"I think one of the most exciting things for us in the tinkering studio is that we are able to blend the traditional topics of science, art and technology," said Mike Petrich from the Exploratorium Making Collaborative.

The new building will open next summer, continuing the tradition of hands-on exhibits, with an increased focus on turning consumers into creators.

The Exploratorium's next Open Make Day is Saturday, April 21, 2012. In addition to making things, you can meet 9-year-old Caine Monroy and see his homemade cardboard arcade that has had about 5 million views on the Internet. For details about that and the Annual Maker Faire next month in San Mateo go to the links below.

Exploratorium Open Make Day, April 21
(Special Guest: 9-year-old Caine Monroy and his Cardboard Arcade)
http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/open-make-trash/

Maker Faire, May 19 & 20 in San Mateo
http://makerfaire.com/

Make Magazine
http://makezine.com/

Caine's Arcade Video:
http://cainesarcade.com/

Written and produced by Jennifer Olney


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