Friday, November 12, 2010
Sparking Excitement and Curiosity
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Here at the Museum, we’re huge proponents of invention, creativity, and anything that provokes the simple question, “why?” In everything we do, we aim to spark our visitor's excitement and curiosity. And we’ve found a kindred spirit in the organization that puts on the Maker Faire events in cities across the U.S.

If you don’t know much about Maker Faire, it’s a celebration of science, craft, and the general do-it-yourself ethos. And because the folks behind Maker Faire seem to be so passionate about things that also energize us, we were looking forward to attending this year’s Maker Faire events.

Many museum staffers attended the Bay Area Maker Faire earlier this year, but I attended the East Bay Mini Maker Faire this past month. And while the day was rainy and cold, the creative spirit was lively among the adults, kids, and exhibitors who attended. There were complex and simple machines, robotics demonstrations, proposals for environmentally-minded public works projects, spaces dedicated to urban farming, apiarists, fire-breathing mechanical dragons, and much more.

The most striking thing for me was that, everywhere I went, I saw kids truly having fun with science. Children were investigating, asking questions and fully participating in workshops and demonstrations. And the expressions of joy and amazement I saw on the children’s faces were expressions I often see when children are experiencing our exhibits or learning about our animals.  It's an expression that I glimpse every day I walk past our Wind Tubes exhibit, or when I go outside to watch the animal keepers do the bobcat feeding. This type of expression manifests itself when kids are excited about science.  What's so gratifying about that expression is that it's a sign that kids are truly connecting with science and natural phenomena. And that expression is what we aim to elicit in every child's visit to the Museum.