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Mini Maker Faire Brings Innovation to Westport

WESTPORT, Conn. – Connecticut’s first-ever Maker Faire, nicknamed the Mini Maker Faire because it was held in Westport, drew more than 1,000 people Saturday and transformed the town into a panoply of innovation, as people displayed everything from 3-D printers to canoes and submarines, which they had often made themselves.

Mark Mathias, the founder and co-chair of the event, said more than 60 maker booths were set up under a tent and across from it outside the library, with events happening inside the library, too.

Viewers saw the featured items up close and interacted with them. Westport resident Alan Winick’s Explorer Submarine was open to allow children and adults to climb inside.

“I completed it in my house on Saugatuck Shores and tested it on the Norwalk River,” Winick said. “There were rumors of a submarine in the Norwalk River.”

At the robotics booth, Nonnewaug High School students from Woodbury demonstrated the robot they had designed and built that shoots basketballs. They built the robot in six weeks early this year and competed in a competition in Hartford. Jonas McGowan-Martin, a junior at Nonnewaug, said, “We integrated the parts into one cohesive robot.”

Mark Polansky, who mentored the robotics project, said, “It excited students and got them interested in technology and real engineering. They drew on principles they learned in math and physics and put them to use and learned how rewarding a career engineering can be.”

Dave Edgerley from Derby displayed canoes he had built, including a 13-foot lapstrake canoe made from marine-grade plywood. “I wanted a canoe but couldn’t buy one, so I’ve built five traditional wooden canoes,” he said.

Matt Stultz, who represents Maker Bot, showed 3-D printers that construct items out of plastic from computer designs. As the printer was preparing a plastic bracelet, he showed some of the other items it made, from toys to a phone holder. “It gives people the opportunity to manufacture items in their homes,” he said.

Nicholas Clarke, a Westport resident, had a collection of “noisemakers,” from a didgeridoo , a wind instrument originally made from eucalyptus trees in Australia 2,000 years ago; to Taos drums ; a washtub bass ; and a bugle.

Seven-year-old Toby Bloch of Westport blew into the bugle and said, “I can’t even play my sister’s flute, but this bugle is easy.”

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