McMADSAT make and do, show and tell. Scotland's first Maker Event 2009. Full report

Report of the McMADSAT event 14th March 2009, at the Glasgow Science Centre

We had a fantastic day. Outside it was a grey gale of a day, but inside was a riot of colour and activity. The aim was to enthuse the public with the fun of making things from a variety of technologies. Anyone who wanted to, could join in, make something and take it away with them, and all for free. Hundreds of people of all ages came along and had a great time. A general video of the event can be seen at https://www.instructables.com/community/Mc_MADSAT/ (Thanks to Les Oates for making this excellent film for us).
I am happy to discuss further with anyone planning their own event, and you can see more about it and the process by which I got the event going, at http://mcmadsat.blogspot.com/

Exhibitors

Star Guest, all the way from London, was Professor Maelstromme (AKA Amanda Scrivener), who brought her beautiful creations
What can you make from a dead umbrella? Display of the possibilities for reusing the fabric and structure of dead umbrellas.
The Tea Party. 1950s style tea party made from a combination of hand made fabric and edible pieces.
Cardboard structures from the students of the department of Architecture at the University of Strathclyde.
Greensteam's steampunkery, 101 uses for a dead keyboard and other examples of her work as shown on Instructables.
The Offline Mechanical Blog – a very old manual typewriter with continuous paper available for the public to type their messages and thoughts on for all to share
Lemonie (another Instructables enthusiast, who travelled up from York especially) brought his amazing conversion of a VHS player-into-toaster that makes toast with VHS imprinted in it. He also brought his nice LEGO USB stick, a lantern made out of a tin-can & glass. and his *untested* wind-turbine, made from VHS player parts.
On the Young Makers stand we had a display of virtuoso Lego constructions and an extensive collection of home made Steampunkery.
The self-replicating machine from the department of Design Manufacture and Engineering Management at the University of Strathclyde, the Reprap, was on display and moving but sadly not reproducing on the day.

Activities

The public were offered a wide range of free hands-on activities, which ran continuously all day, to 'Make and Take'
Soldering - make a solar theremin (or a robot). 16 of these were made and all worked first time. Some were taken for a trial run in the sun and a video of this can be seen at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZzUZMon3vpA
The Stemnet ambassadors helped visitors to make their own Musical Straw Oboes.
One of the most popular activities – especially with children – the Stemnet ambassadors supervised the making of many handsfull of Gloop.
The Stemnet ambassadors used the plastic Polymorph for visitors to make a fingerprint keyring to take away.
Fishy things - Busy Bees Art studio provided painting and collage fishes to make, particularly for our very young visitors.
The Glasgow Crocheted Coral Reef invited visitors to try their hands at crocheting and contribute to the growing coral reef, all made from wool and even strips of plastic bag. Many total novices not only tried their hands but actually completed a piece of coral to contribute to the reef. This workshop area was very busy throughout, with visitors typically spending 30 minutes or more participating. Many thanks to my civil engineer pal who ran this.
House of Cards - visitors could make and take their own set of the design classic 'Eames cards', which slot together to form fantastical structures. Ideal for recycling old greetings cards.
Cable necklets, keyboard bracelets and keyboard film wallets. All made from recycled/repurposed materials from dead keyboards. Popular with adults and children alike.

Risk assessments were provided to the Glasgow science centre, for all the activities. There were no injuries and the 'emergency first aid bucket of water' was not needed as there were no soldering or gluegun burns.

Participant Presenters
30 people were involved on the day, either as exhibitors or as workshop facilitators. An essential component of the team was the group of11 Stemnet ambassadors, most of whom were there all day. It would have been impossible to run so many activities without them. Another group in the team was the members of the Glasgow Electron Club who, with some friends and a Stemnet ambassador, ran the soldering workshops continuously all day. We were particularly fortunate to have two exhibitors travel up specially to take part. Several exhibitors were entrepreneurs who gave their time for nothing, even though the venue rules meant they could not sell anything, nor charge for the activities being provided. This was especially generous given the harsh financial climate just now. Everyone said they had lots of fun.

Public
Over 1,000 people visited the Glasgow Science Centre on the day. The BSA/NSEW assessment forms collected only represent <10% of the visitors to the McMADSAT area. Stallholders and workshop facilitators estimated a total of about 425 active participants (people who did an activity, or asked questions and generally interacted with the displays) by 1530 (GSC shuts at 1700). However, even these only represent a proportion of the people visiting the event which, although not recorded, probably amount to about double that, since most of the activities were taken up by children accompanied by other family members. The numbers at any given time were variable, depending upon the GSC's own activities/talks etc. I would estimate that the McMADSAT area was visited by at least 700-800 during the day. From the few assessment forms returned, and from chatting to the public, it was clear that most had come simply because they were coming to the GSC anyway, but some (mainly young adults) had come as a result of internet and email information or because of the Metro article. The GSC visitors seem to be mainly families with children of primary school age. The University of Glasgow Steampunk Society had come especially to make contact with the steampunk element, as featured in the Metro article. We also collected some contact details for future events.

Budget
The total budget for the event was the £500 grant provided from NSEW Scotland scheme. This had to cover all the exhibitors' costs and the costs for the free make and take activities, plus all publicity etc.

In-Kind Sponsors:
The Glasgow Science Centre provided free space, tables, cloths, technical assistance, without which the event would not have been possible at all.
The publishers of Make and Craft magazines, O'Reilly's, did not feel able to sponsor us in the same extent as they did for the much larger event in Newcastle on the same day, but did send boxes of back issues of their magazines to give away, which probably amounted to an equivalent of about £300 at UK newsstand prices.
Clockworkrobot.com provided more theremin kits than contracted for, which were themselves at cost price.
Madlabs provided free batteries for all the kits they supplied at cost.
Instructables.com assisted with publicity and allowed the use of their logo.

Venue
None of this would have been possible at all, particularly on this minimal budget, without the kindness of the Glasgow Science Centre. The Director agreed immediately to offer us the space free, plus the use of tables and technical help to enable this event to take place. We were able to partially set up the night before which was very helpful in avoiding a scramble on the day. We were able to get the loan of 4 GSC soldering irons which avoided us having to get personal ones PAT tested. This was the ideal venue for us as it meant we really didn’t have to do a great deal of publicity as we could be sure of an audience from the GSC's normal throughput.

Publicity
The event was listed in the NSEW diary and in the university of Strathclyde's NSEW information. Posters were distributed around venues in Glasgow and information posted on relevant websites. A blogspace http://mcmadsat.blogspot.com was set up as a temporary web presence to refer people to. The Metro published a small piece which was a wonderful boost.

Lessons for the future
Needed more helpers and more exhibitors. Outdoor displays would have been impossible as the weather was dreadful, but it is still necessary to have some more dramatic displays as well as the hands on activities. Successful soldering for novices really needs 1:1 or 1:2 supervision. The budget only worked because minimal publicity was done at low cost and all the participant presenters were generous with their time and resources. Anything more ambitious than what was done on this occasion would need a larger organising team and significant sponsorship.


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Helixthecat8 years ago
I really wanted to go, but uni and train fares got in the way I'm afraid. Will there be another?
greensteam (author)  Helixthecat8 years ago
Hi Helix, Well, it was lots of fun so I hope there will be another, but really needs a team to run it better. Happy to discuss if you have a notion to do one in your neck of the woods. I would think Sheffield would be a very good spot for Maker type people. I now think I should have built up to it by having small "neighbourhood" show and tells to build up a bunch of people who would be the exhibitors. all best greensteam
awwwwwww i wish could have gone(im scottish)
You would of course have been most welcome. But you are in USA so you get the chance perhaps to go the BIG Maker Faire??
yeah but im scottish
greensteam (author) 8 years ago
No way I can afford to go to Austin and Instructables booth is not accepting postal entries. I have asked them if they would consider a live weblink for us distant Instructablers, but no response from Noahw yet.

What do youse think? Possible solution? madness?

My ideal solution would be the Telectroscope http://telectroscope.net/
If you had a collaborator on the other side - perhaps you could wire two electric-typewriters across the Atlantic via the internet. Something like an old Telex system, but technically difficult I guess? L
lemonie8 years ago
I can see me! (just about)

L
greensteam (author)  lemonie8 years ago
Lemonie deserves a better pic. He made the heroic and expensive journey just to be at the event and brought some interesting things for all to admire. I now have thoughts of windmills.
lemonie7.JPG
He looks oddly like...
212510_4_336010673.jpg
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