Wednesday, 20 July 2016

R2-D2, UNCOMFORTABLY FAST BIKES AND COFFEE: THE MAKER FESTIVAL AT THE TORONTO REFERENCE LIBRARY

EXHIBITION REVIEWS

BY: STEPHANIE READ

My internship this summer has led to my spending countless hours researching at the Toronto Reference Library. I've learned a lot about what the space holds over the course of a few short months, such as the Toronto Historical Newspaper Archive in the basement, the Arthur Conan Doyle Room. I had the opportunity on July 10th to check out the Maker Festival at the TRL, since I've been hearing quite a bit about the "Maker movement" in Toronto, especially in connection to the Royal Ontario Museum, which is preparing to launch its own Maker Space this fall.

Looking down at the first level of Maker Fest. Photo Cred: Stephanie Read 
For those of you not familiar with this Maker movement business, it is one which encourages STEAM innovation, participation and the sharing of space, resources and knowledge. Inventors, hackers, designers, hobbyists and artisans come together to share and discuss their research. Museums benefit by participating in Maker spaces because the latter provide spaces for children and adults to interact with technology and craft at their own pace. The Toronto Reference Library Maker Festival in July included many museums in its roster of innovators and artists, such as the Toronto Railway Museum, the ROM and Black Creek Pioneer Village. These events happen across the city and I urge you to check one out, especially if it is at the Toronto Reference Library, as it is a huge space bursting at the seams with fascinating demonstrations and installations. The event is also free, which goes a long way for me.

Don't mind if I do! PC: Stephanie Read
I gave myself about an hour to see the Festival, and it was hardly enough time. The library was packed with tables and objects, from a super-fast hydrogen-powered speed-bike (designed by U of T's own), to adorable R2-D2 robots (I accidentally called one C-3PO and predictably, chaos ensued). Origami-style garlands made by guests hung from the ceiling, and veritably every single taste was covered. I personally enjoyed visiting the Metro Marine Modellers of Toronto. They make gorgeous ships, and their work can be seen in the AGO's Thompson Collection of Ship Models (my second shout-out to that gallery... I think I have a problem!).

Racing boats by the Metro Marine Modellers of Toronto.
These guys are seriously good craftsmen! PC: Stephanie Read
Here were a few scenes from the event, which included the Make Change conference, panels, sessions, workshops and boutiques. I just want to say that during my visit, I thought of a lot about my fellow classmates and MMST alumni, many who are wonderful 'makers' in their own right!
The world's fastest human-powered bike, created by the University of Toronto
Human-Powered Vehicle Design Team. These guys are geniuses! PC: Stephanie Read
This printer by the Rochester Institute of Technology creates art with coffee drips.
 Suffice to say the table smelled good! PC: Stephanie Read
This is the first 3-D printer to blend filaments of colour, by ORD Solutions Inc.
 PC: Stephanie Read
BB-8 Builder's Club. Like the Mall Santa, the R/C BB-8 represents the real deal for
public events. Obviously this table was a hit and kudos to these women for still being so friendly at the end of the day.
PC: Stephanie Read
BoxMaker makes boxes! And dinosaurs. And cardboard batarangs. Love BoxMaker! PC: Stephanie Read
Birritt backpacks include an integrated power source so you can charge your tech while on the go! The bags are great too, with lots of handy pockets. (Psst, the buckles are decorative and actually attach with snap buttons). PC: Stephanie Read.
Excuse the over-exposure on this picture. Robot Missions created 3-D printed robots designed to help pick up garbage along the beach. They look so adorable and Wall-E-esque, roving around clutching discarded water bottles.
PC: Stephanie Read.
Russell Zeid, Backyard Blacksmith. PC: Stephanie Read
I thought I had seen everything and then I came into this room! PC: Stephanie Read
Although Maker month is over, satellite events do pop up often around the city, so be sure to keep your eyes peeled! This event is fantastic for all ages, though especially for children, as many of the activities are designed with kids in mind. Visit the Maker Festival website to learn more about participating innovators and upcoming events. 

See you next time, wild and wacky Toronto Makers! PC: Stephanie Read

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