Makefest Liverpool 2017
Where can you make your own heart badge, meet future scientists and contact the International Space Station?
During a weekend already chock full of exciting events, Liverpool Central Library played host to the 3rd annual Makefest, a full day packed with traditional craftsmen as well as those involved in high tech creations. Makefest, a free event, is run by volunteers who hope to inspire young and old in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics. Covering all four floors of the Central Library, as well as the terrace, the event ran from 9am until 4pm. Those wishing to avoid crowds are advised to attend prior to noon, as the afternoon period is when many families with small children attend.
Women in Tech, centrally located on the ground floor, was a welcome introduction to this year’s festivities. In an effort to attract girls and women into technology, Liverpool Girl Geeks hosted women currently employed in technological fields. Rachel Frier, a featured designer, has had her garments combining traditional craftsmanship with technology shown on the London Catwalk.
The Liverpool Girl Geeks themselves are a local organisation who work in collaboration with FACT to train teenage females in traditionally male-dominated technological fields. The Girl Geeks will host their second academy for young females in September 2017. Perhaps future Makefest events will be able to expand the Women in Tech area, and add more hands on participation for eager young females. Many opportunities for hands on experience were on offer in other areas, but unfortunately, not in the Women in Tech area.
Other highlights of this participant’s day included a discussion with a humanitarian involved with Field Ready, an organisation that travels to areas devastated by war, famine or natural disasters. She showed me an umbilical clamp printed by a solar powered laser printer taken to Africa. Previously, due to lack of supplies, locals had used dirty shoelaces to clamp the umbilical cords of new-born babies. Likewise, previously donated incubators had become unusable due to lack of parts. As the incubators had been donated from other countries and were now obsolete in “first world countries,” parts to repair them were no longer available. Solar-powered laser printers were used to construct parts suitable for repairing the equipment, so the incubators can once again be used to save vulnerable new-borns.
Around lunchtime, a call went out for those interested to join the Quantum Tech Club on the library terrace as they attempted to contact the International Space Station as it passed overhead. People young and old, male and female gathered as two gentlemen, one equipped with a laptop computer and the other with a hand held antenna, sent signals to bounce off the international space station. In a scene reminiscent of a Big Bang Theory episode, the crowd was entertained by blips on a computer screen and modem like sounds as equipment from a rooftop on Liverpool sent signals to the International Space Station. It was a scene that would bring a tear to the eye of Sheldon Cooper, PhD.
Liverpool continues to offer ample opportunities for local residents to be exposed to arts and sciences. In a world that often seems geared only towards making the rich richer, and grinding the poor even further into the dirt, it is an honour to live in a city that continues to champion ordinary people, and offer them hope for the future. Makefest, now in its 3rd year of existence, continues to highlight the best of humanity. Well done to the volunteer army who put on a day of fun and learning for the whole family.