Young Makers Build Their World


6.21.11 | We wrote about the Young Makers Program when we covered the TEDxSFED conference back in April that was organized around the theme “mashEDup: re-imagine education.” The homemade animatronic fire-breathing dragon brought along by Bay Area teens stole the show. And now you can see it for yourself in this video.

The Young Makers talk is the latest in the video releases from the independently organized TED event.

Tony DeRose, senior scientist at Pixar animation studios, and Dale Dougherty, co-founder of O’Reilly Media and creator of the popular Maker Faires, discuss the collaboration involving MAKE magazine, Pixar and San Francisco’s Exploratorium museum that just finished up its second year.

The program aims to inspire the next generation of creative thinkers and inventors by pairing young people with adult mentors to work on original hands-on projects at schools or in parent-run garages and workshops. Participants meet monthly at The Exploratorium to exchange ideas.

DeRose spoke about creating a Gatling gun version of the popular potato cannon with his two teenage sons:

Working on these open-ended challenging projects just creates a huge number of teachable moments where we can talk about all kinds of science and technology topics, such as, in this case, mechanical and electrical engineering, chemistry and physics. The boys were involved in every aspect of the design and construction.

This year, the Young Makers Program has 20 clubs with about 100 kids and 50 adult volunteers. About 40 project teams took part in last month’s Maker Faire Bay Area. Find out how to get involved here.

And if after watching the animatronic fire-breathing dragon you still want more, check out the complete list of the 2011 projects and the photos on the Young Maker Program’s blog. There’s everything from a “Kinetic Horse” to a “No-Touch Garden.”

As some of the young inventors put it: “Making stuff expands your brain, builds your skills and, if you do it enough, makes you awesome.” 

You can watch more talks from the TEDxSFED conference here.

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