Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

For Tinkerers, a Day to Create and Celebrate Movement Is Having It Made

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

For Tinkerers, a Day to Create and Celebrate Movement Is Having It Made

Article excerpt

As part of the "maker movement," which values do-it-yourself projects on everything from robots to furniture, New Jersey is hosting the nation's first statewide Makers Day this Saturday, with more than 150 institutions across all 21 counties set to participate.

"It's a return to that tinkering and garage mentality that was prevalent in the '50s and '60s," said Doug Baldwin, the lead organizer of Saturday's event and a librarian at the Piscataway Public Library.

It's the same culture that produced the likes of Microsoft and Google, he said, and has the potential to inspire many other creations.

Libraries, museums, schools, civic organizations and businesses will be hosting a potpourri of projects for makers of all ages, from music- and movie-making in Bergenfield to a series of craft and science projects in Wayne. A 3D printer will be available for use in North Bergen, while Hillsdale will hold a contest for creative entries in categories such as "best electrical thing" and "best thing that can be worn."

"We're providing exposure to all the different organizations just within our state alone that can help you gain access to these things," Baldwin said, referring to the tools and technology that enable people to bring ideas to life. "It's a giant statewide open house."

The maker movement has benefited in recent years from a reduction in the cost of small-scale electronics manufacturing that has brought the price of, for example, a 3D printer down from thousands of dollars to mere hundreds today, Baldwin said.

Don't have $400 to shell out for a LEGO Mindstorm robotics kit? Well, the local hardware store now has all the components one would need to piece together a similar robot for under $50.

The movement has also received a boost from those who see it as a way to augment traditional education in STEM subjects - science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

Frank Cornacchiulo, a software developer and father of three students in the Rutherford school district, for example, launched a Totowa-based venture called the Maker Depot in December that aims to give teenagers and adults alike the opportunity to "think with their hands."

"There's so much going on at school," Cornacchiulo said. "They're introducing STEM, but they don't have time to get into everything. …

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