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Children's Museum 'Makers Festival' Spurs Kids' Creativity

By Emily Frost | April 9, 2014 8:21am
 The festival is meant to highlight the variety of careers available to kids and teach them how science and art overlap. 
The Meet the Makers' Festival Opens on the UWS
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UPPER WEST SIDE — A weeklong festival coming to the Children's Museum of Manhattan will invoke the DIY spirit with activities inspired by the makers movement, which celebrates the use of handmade objects over mass-produced ones. 

The Meet the Makers Festival, which coincides with city public schools' spring break, will help kids learn how to make everything from homemade ice cream, to a toothpick bridge, to a self-portrait out of splatter paint. 

"We hope that kids come away with a different understanding of careers they could have in the world and what they can do in the world," said Leslie Bushara, the museum's deputy director of education.

The festival, which runs from April 12-22, will take place inside the West 83rd Street museum's new lab devoted to science, technology, engineering, arts and math.

The new ground-floor lab was inspired by studios used by the Maker Movement, which advocates on behalf of handmade goods in lieu of machine-made ones.

It features a wide-open space with chalkboard walls for drawing up ideas, as well as blocks for tinkering, Bushara said. It can fit roughly 75 kids at a time, she noted.

The lab also echoes the values of the Maker Movement, which includes thinking outside the box and open-ended experimentation, Bushara explained.

Makers work "with old materials and recycled materials and [are] coming up with these innovative and sometimes crazy ideas," she added.

Ricardo Cid, a Mexican engineer and artist living in Brooklyn, has incorporated that zaniness in his work, which usually involves sculptures that move and change form. 

"I can explain how electronics work through telling a story," he said.

In his seminar this Saturday, Cid will showcase a wooden robot he made, while also giving participants a chance to tinker with their own creations.

"If you ever wonder why mathematics is important, it’s to create robots like this," he said.

Cid wants to create an atmosphere where kids can ask him "weird" questions and also move away from thinking of artists and engineers as working in separate spheres.

Cid's sessions will likely be a big hit, Bushara predicted.

"When kids can make things and they have movement, it’s very exciting for [them]," she said.

And when Maker sessions aren't in progress, kids of all ages can hang out in the lab, finding inspiration and running with it, Bushara added.

After the festival ends later this month, the museum plans to continue inviting Makers to the space as part of an ongoing series this fall.

The festival schedule can be found here. Tickets are $11 each and children under 1 can attend for free. The museum is open Tuesday-Friday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.