So I journeyed out to the New York Hall of Science in Queens, a site I remember from my childhood as a park of towering rocket ships and a massive great hall that celebrated space travel.
The one thing that is clear the moment you arrive at the Maker Faire is that the term ‘geek’ has gone mainstream. The sprawling campus of booths, tents, performances, and technology has its share of edgy Brooklyn-based performance artists. But the crowd was largely kids, families, and inventors. What Make Magazine calls “Makers.”
Clearly none of these Makers want to be pouring cement, or building cars. Rather, they want to be using a soldering iron or a computer keyboard to invent new ways to live, play, and work.
Among the trends I’d take President Obama to explore – the remarkable phenomenon that is the Arduino, an open-source electronics prototyping platform based on flexible, easy-to-use hardware and software. Arduino is a prime example of open-source technology fueling innovation abd learning. How mainstream is the Arduino? Well, it goes on sale at Radio Shack this fall. (http://www.arduino.cc/)
Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.