Super-Awesome Sylvia's picture

My CRAZY DC Adventure

Submitted by Super-Awesome Sylvia on April 27, 2013 - 5:44pm

WHite HoUse SCience FaiR? WHaaa? This month has been crazy!! Robogames 2013, TWO Science Fairs, and an interview with Bill Nye and Levar Burton... in the same week?! HOLY MOLY!!!

Sylvia posing with her custom made white cardboard box that reads "Super-Awesome Sylvia - WATERCOLORBOT - Evil Mad Scientist"Just a few weeks ago, I got a call from the White House staff, and they invited me to go to their 3rd ever science fair! Last year, Joey Hudy got chosen to go for making awesome kits, and got to show off his big orange marshmallow cannon. This year, MAKE magazine and Cognizant nominated me to come! The most insane part was that I only got one week warning, my school 6th grade science fair was on the same day as the white house one, and we’d have to leave on the last day of Robogames!!! OH NOEsS!!

Luckily my dad helped organize and put together a fundraiser on gofundme, and we raised the full goal amount in less than a day thanks to all the awesome people who donated and helped get the word out! WOO hoo!

Sylvia posing in her bicycle blouse at her hotel, ready to leave to the White House. On the Thursday before the Science Fair, I left to San Mateo to compete in Robogames 2013 with my WaterColorBot paint pen plotter (fill wrap-up post coming later). After an exciting couple days at Robogames (and winning a silver medal!), I boarded a plane to Washington DC, with my robot and project board all wrapped up in my awesome custom made carrying box. I was SOOOO excited!!

We got to our hotel at 2am, slept ‘till 6am, got dressed all fancy, then left for the White House! (Not much sleep. :P)

Sylvia standing behind her science fair table at the White House, ready to display the WaterColorBot.When we got there, I was checked by security and led to the room where I was supposed to set up in. I didn’t have much stuff to assemble, so I had a ton of time to figure out exactly how I would do my demo, and what the heck just happened. Craziness!!

After about an hour, some people started to come by and I showed off my WaterColorBot. My demo worked with a Raspberry Pi as the computer, and connected to the iPad with a WIFI adapter that my dad help me make into an access point. After all of the other kids set up and looked around, we went outside and had some lunch and talked with lots of important people. After lunch settled down, I got interviewed by Levar Burton and Bill Nye!! Oh My Gosh!

At 12:30, the science fair officially opened to the rest of the staff and VIP’s that got invited. I talked to a BUNCH of cool people and really had some fun talking with them all about how the bot works, how I came up with the design, and how I think it'll be perfect for girls my age to get into engineering with once we make it into a kit. I also talked lots and lots about other things I liked doing, plus all about my show.

Sylvia showing Nate Ball, host of PBS Kids Design Squad, and a group of onlookers how her WaterColorBot works

I hadn't had much sleep, but even though I'd been standing and talking for hours, I was totally pumped. It's hard to describe, but getting up there and talking about something awesome that you know pretty well, that people really want to hear, and have interesting questions about, is a lot of fun, and you wouldn't think so. But it is.... and I knew I had to hold out for the POTUS!

When it was time for the president to come in, all the regular people were moved into the entry hall. He then came in, said hello and started talking to the first booth. After a few teams/groups had talked with the president, I was next! He walked up, said hello and shook my hand. We talked, and then he held up my watercolorbot painted picture of the white house logo the press, and lots of camera shutters went off. He then talked with me a bit and drew something on the iPad for the bot to draw, “GO STEM!”. At the end he shook my hand again!! I was thrilled!

Sylvia standing behind her science fair table and her WaterColorBot while President Barack Obama displays the White House logo drawn by the bot.Sylvia holding the finished painting that the president made with the iPad WaterColorBot demo.The iPad showing what President Barack Obama drew for the WaterColorBot to paint.Sylvia instructs President Barack Obama as he draws the words "GO STEM!" on the iPad for the WaterColorBot to draw.

Meeting the president was so incredible and exciting! I had a TON of fun in Washington DC and I really hope to go there again. Even though I got to meet the president, I’m still just regular old me, and I think any kid my age could get to be where I was, if they just don’t give up and keep going at their crazy ideas. Even if nothing new happens because of my trip, I’ll be sure and keep my friends at the White House forever.

TechNinja's picture

Maker Faire Bay Area 2012: Day 2

Submitted by TechNinja on July 7, 2012 - 7:59am

(Continued from Maker Faire: Day 1) The streets strangled by traffic, we arrive a bit late (show up early folks!). Hopping out of our car and hoofing across the south lot, we're totally ready for Adam Savage's talk at 11. First a quick stop off at the magical steampunk village, to see the amazing machines, sculptures, and perchance to write an olde fashioned letter with a fountain pen.

Sylvia and Talulah examining the Velocipede steampunk vehicle.Sylvia's handwritten fountain pen letter.An Obtainium Works sculpture inside of the steampunk village

Just as we finish our letters, we got a call from our pal Brooklyn to head over and see our friend Joey Hudy in the Maker Shed, he was sad that Becky wasn't there to walk around and do interviews with Matt for MAKE Live, so he suggested that he and Sylvia fill in! Who would pass up an awesome chance like this? Not us!

Joey Hudy talks to the Make Live camera crew.Sylvia interviewing two of the other kids featured throughout the Schools Out MAKE MagazineAdam Savage answering Sylvia and Joey during their interview with himAdam Savage getting interviewed by Joey and Sylvia

Off we ran to the Shed for some preliminary interviews, then Adam Savage himself, then onto the back of a golf cart to tour the sights and sounds of the Faire. Soon seeing such awesome things as Makerbot's robot petting zoo, the giant fire snorting dragon, and Los Angeles Maker Extraordinaire, Tara Tiger Brown (all seen in the video)!

Rounding out a long fun tour of the grounds and sights, they headed over to the Whiskey Drunk Cycles arena, it was time to dunk a MAKE editor! Sylvia was first to pitch, and without breaking a sweat somehow managed to pull out a fast ball and dunked her on the second shot! I guess that single season of softball finally paid off.

Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang signing Sylvia's ChumbyAfter her fun trip with the Make crew and Joey, we set out on our own to inhale the last invigorating breaths of Maker Faire. Into the expo hall we stopped by and said hi to all the booths we could. Handing out stickers, cards, smiles and hugs. Met up with incredible electronics master Andrew 'Bunnie' Huang, he even signed Sylvia's Chumby One!

We saw our nice friends from Parallax showing off their red line follower bots, and Sylvia's favorite Ping))) BOE bot, then over to the fabulous Tinkercad, showing off 3D printed versions of their favorite models, some even in ceramic and metal. Stopping by one of our favorite booths, Sugru showed off their awesome "kid-proof" camera made safe with only their colorful air-curing rubber. Then finally off at the Robotis booth to check out the awesome Ollo bug bot kit, and to even hold one of the incredible DARwIn-OP humanoid bots (too bad his battery was dead).

Sylvia playing with the bots at the Parallax booth with Jessica Uelmen & Emily Kurze Sylvia standing in the foreground while a Makerbot Replicator prints Tinkercad models at the Tinkercad boothA "child-proof" camera created with SugruSylvia holding the DARwIn-OP

By the time we finished strolling through the expo hall, it was time for the very last EepyBird Diet Coke and Mentos show! We ran outside and set ourselves up in front before the crowds got too thick, hoping for to get close enough to "experience" the soda fountains, and we were not disappointed! (totally got soaked when the wind picked up)

Sylvia giving a thumbs up before being doused with warm diet sodaEepyBird demonstrate the effectivenes of warm soda vs cold sodaSylvia smiling after being soaked with soda.A crewmember handing a soda bottle to one of a hundred grappling hands.

Not long after, it was time for the awards ceremony for the Fun Bike Unicorn Club Figure 8 races. Due to our constantly popping tires, derailing chain and eventually the front right wheel coming off, we were tied for last place. Though because we kept on trying, and even went to a store to buy replacement tubes to race again the following day, we won "Best Effort", and hold the trophy proudly (Actually, driver and welder TheD holds it)

The D holding the "Best Effort" trophy

Sylvia squinting at the sun through darkened plastic to view the solar eclipseThe fair has now officially ended. Patrons and booth runners alike; pack, clean up, and head out. People gather outside as they leave to marvel at the eclipse, turning simple tree shade into a crowded sea of crescents. We make our way through buildings, slowly meandering our way to the exit. We love to walk through the slowly emptying halls as the excitement, stress and heat of thousands of hurried bodies drains out, leaving only the people who came here some few days ago to put everything up, just to take it all down again. On our way through we spotted a hard at work Sophi hacking away at an cell phone signal detector hat for the big post-Maker Faire hack dinner at Harry's Hofbrau. Sylvia helped her solder a bit, and then we headed out to the dinner ourselves.

The mostly empty main hallSylvia helps solder Sophi Kravitz's cell phone power meter hat project before the hacker dinnerSylvia posing with bright red LED matrix glasses displaying a hypnotizing pattern.The hacker side of Harry's Hofbrau crowd

Sylvia posing with Jeri's C-64 Bass guitar.It was packed. Almost every patron was from Maker Faire, and an entire section of the restaurant was devoted to the elite hackers showing off their incredible inventions and physical sketches. Everything from Jeri's C-64 Bass, Benheck's briefcase 3D printer, Garret Mace's LED matrix glasses, to a high pressure CO2 fruit carbonator. After an hour or more of mingling, showing off of cool things, and planing with like minded makers, Sherry and Dale walked in causing every single table to erupt in spontaneous applause. The entire event after the event was incredible, and we ended up staying far beyond our limit, leaving over three hours later than we expected... of course, it was worth it.

Sylvia finished collecting her "photoception" picture-in-a-picture shots as best she could on this last day of Maker Faire. Sunday netted her: Mr. Mythbuster Adam Savage out signing after giving a great talk and getting interviewed by Sylvia herself! (3 years), head of the Maker Shed, Mr. Marc de Vinck (2 Years), MAKE editor in chief and Boing Boing founder Mark Frauenfelder (2 years), Masters of soda fountains, the Eepybird guys, Fritz and Steven (3 Years), and uber-modder and pinball fanatic Ben Heckendorn (2 years).

Sylvia posing with Adam Savage holding a photo of them holding a photo of themSylvia posing with Marc De Vinck, with a picture of them last yearSylvia posing with Mark Frouenfelder, with a picture of them in 2010
Sylvia posing with Eepybird (Fritz & Steven) holding a photo of them holding a photo of themSylvia posing with Ben Heckendorn, holding a picture of them the previous year

And thus concludes our tale of Maker Faire Bay area 2012. Made lots of friends, saw lots of amazing things, got so many ideas, only good can come from so much sharing.

Stay tuned for another multi-part tale of our adventures at Maker Faire Kansas City, 2012, then Make Summer Camp 2012, then Constructing Modern Knowledge 2012!!

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