Maker Faire Detroit 2016

Maker Faire Detroit 2016

Kinvert had a great time raising interest in STEM at Maker Faire

We just wrapped up our year end celebration at Maker Faire Detroit 2016. We had a robotics competition, displays where several of our students showed off their creations, and several activities for the thousands of people attending Maker Faire to enjoy.

Our goal at Kinvert is to mentor those that will one day help change the world. One of the first steps in that process is making highly technical activities available to kids in a way that isn’t intimidating or so difficult that they give up.

Throughout the school year Kinvert worked with many students to inspire them and spark their interest in topics like Robotics, Programming, Rockets, Space, Orbital Mechanics, Engineering, and so many more. Our STEM classes keep these kids engaged and growing in the STEM world.

Once the school year was over, we wanted to have a big celebration, and what better way than to do it at Maker Faire?

Creating the Robotics Competition

We decided to set up a Robotics Competition for the kids that would take place at Maker Faire Detroit. We wanted the Robotics Competition to be accessible, fun, and as educational as possible.

Kids cheer as their sumo robot wins this round in our robotics competition summer camp for kids at Maker Faire Detroit

Unfortunately we haven’t found existing Robotics Competitions that fit the criteria as well as we’d like. First Robotics for example can cost well over $20K. Plus the robots are driven. We wanted the students to learn to handle Autonomous Robots. Rather than just driving robots around with joysticks, the students learn to write programs which utilize the sensors on the robot and the program itself will decide how to control the robot. Full autonomy. Now that’s a robotics competition!

We had several ideas, and eventually narrowed our focus down to a Sumo Robot Competition. After a lot of planning, we arranged for 6 teams to learn throughout the summer and battle their robots at Maker Faire Detroit in The Henry Ford. How cool!

Throughout the process we were offered help from several parents and students without which this just absolutely wouldn’t have been possible. I can’t thank those that helped enough.

Preparing Kinvert students for the Robotics Competition, and a Robotics Tour

Since this was our first year doing this we didn’t have enough teams to split age groups. We had our work cut out for us teaching kids ranging from 7 to 17. In the end, the youngest team made it in to the semi finals, so I think we did pretty well there.

We had classes throughout the summer teaching the kids how to program an autonomous robot. However I sort of thought of this as a teamwork lesson disguised as a robotics class. This was as much about teamwork as it was about robotics and programming.

We also got to go on an awesome tour of a local robotics company. Our students loved it and it was great to see them ask so many questions and learn so much.

in our summer camps kids learn about coding robotics and more we also did a robotics tour

STEM activities Kinvert had at Maker Faire

We brought a lot of stuff to Maker Faire. Most of our activities had parents or students there to help visitors know the activities were hands on. I hope you got to meet some of our parents and students. We have such an amazing group.

One of the biggest items was the Sumo Robot Competition Arena. It took my father in law visiting from China (who knows 4 words of English) and me 2 days of sawing, drilling, and playing charades (I hardly speak any Chinese) to get the robot competition arena built.

Part of our Summer Camp for Kids and Teens involves a Robotics Competition that takes place at Maker Faire Detroit

We made a portable battling robot competition, where 2 robots are configured as tanks and could drive around and shoot infrared light canons at each other but we were so busy we never really got this activity out there.

We ‘kinverted’ flyers by making them literally fly. I spent a day learning new software figuring out how to make this thing. We had several students test the idea. They were a big hit and we hope we didn’t create a mess for The Henry Ford!

Volunteering at Maker Faire Detroit to get kids interested in STEM and Aerospace Engineering

We had flyers kids could program a robot to draw on. This is one example of how we regularly incorporate art in to our STEM program.

Maker Faire Detroit attendees also interacted with an Oscilloscope showing an electronic circuit demonstrating RC Decay using a 555 Timer and a Potentiometer.

Each year we go to Maker Faire Detroit to get kids excited about STEM we volunteer so kids learn electronics with oscilloscope

Kids could learn how to ‘make’ a wire by cutting and stripping it, and then they could see their wire actually work. So many kids wanted to keep their wire. I wonder what they’ll eventually end up doing with them! 🙂

We volunteer at Maker Faire Detroit to spark childrens interest in STEM here a kid learns electronics

There was a table dedicated to Rocket Simulators that use the same equations I used while getting my Aerospace Engineering Degree. This is the real deal. Kids learned about Rockets and Orbital Mechanics, and just how hard it is to get to space – especially how hard it is to stay there by getting in to orbit.

Kids learn rockets space and orbital mechanics at our booth at Maker Faire Detroit where we volunteer each year

We’re proud of our student Makers!

Kinvert also helped provide a platform where our students could show off some of their creations. One of our students built his own robot from scratch!

Every year we volunteer to teach kids STEM for free and get them interested in Engineering here a student builds their own custom arduino robot

Will Fallon, with the help of OpenAPS, made a system that can monitor his blood and control his insulin pump.

There were other projects, such as using Calculus to optimize real world problems, a physics based game using center of gravity and collision detection, a gadget to help blind people by indicating how far away objects are, and a robot that could sing musical notes. Unfortunately we were too busy to get pictures of these. If you did get pictures of these projects, please let us know 🙂

Want to make something like our students did? Check out our Ultimate Guide to Robotics Projects and Ideas.

Teams put their programs to the test by battling their autonomous robots

For the robotics competition, the teams showcased what they learned by putting their autonomous robots they programmed in the ring. The teams did incredibly well, and we’re proud of all of them.

Ultimately the finals were between team Skynet, and team Kerbal Robotics Program. In the end it was Kerbal Robotics Program that won the Kinvert Sumo Robot Competition. Congratulations!

There is no way to thank our helpers enough!

We just can’t thank all the parents, students, and others that helped make this event possible. Thank you!

We would like to thank our sponsors!


Lozier Music

Pat Milliken Ford

Dependable Gage and Tool

Radio Astronomy

Special thanks to:

The Henry Ford

Maker Faire


How to get involved in Maker Faire Detroit next time?

Click here to see our post on How to Get Involved in Maker Faire Detroit at The Henry Ford.

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