Buzzy Bugs and Robo Wars: ECS at Wellington's first Maker Faire

Two outreach teams comprising staff and students from the School of Engineering and Computer Science thrilled the crowds at Wellington's first ever Maker Faire, held at TSB Auditorium on Sunday 4 November.

Large room lit in red and blue with people gathered around exhibition stands
Maker Faire Wellington in full swing. Photo credit: Justine Hall.

The ‘Maker Faire’ movement, a global celebration of creating and creativity, hit Wellington’s shores for the first time on November 4, and outreach teams from the School of Engineering and Computer Science were lucky enough to take part in the day-long event at TSB Auditorium.

As Karen Carey, Head Maker (and Creative Producer of Public Programmes at Capital E) puts it, “Maker Faire Wellington is a celebration of the innovative scientific, artistic and creative minds of Aotearoa and gives them a place to share their wonderful work with our community.”

The Makers from our ECS team, School Manager Suzan Hall and Outreach Coordinator Pravin Vaz, whipped up two displays for the event. Suzan’s ‘Buzzy Bugs and Flashy Flowers’ had children of all ages crafting simple circuits, and heading home with either a vibrating bug or flashing LED brooch. Pravin’s stall, ‘Robo Wars – Code to Fight’, taught punters to program a simple robot to take on an opponent in a sumo battle.

Both stands were awarded Maker Faire Blue Ribbons, a token to show that the Maker did something outstanding; Suzan’s stand also took the award for Best Audience Takeaway. Both stalls were staffed by students of all levels from our ECS Outreach Team, honing their teaching and communication skills.

“The hands-on workshops facilitated by Sue Hall and Pravin Vaz provided engaging activities for people of all ages and encouraged tamariki and rangatahi to get involved in the Maker Movement. We were very pleased to have them at the first featured Maker Faire in New Zealand”, says Karen.

The School’s work at Maker Faire Wellington is part of a wider commitment to schools in the Wellington region. ECS provides professional development and upskilling for teachers; runs technology workshops and activities at primary and intermediate schools; and most importantly, works to foster a love for technology and creativity that will eventually produce dedicated and passionate Engineering and Computer Science graduates.