Exhibitors get ready to show inventions at OMSI event
Two high school students want to inspire others to pursue their budding interests in science and technology by flying mini-drones.
A Portland man wants to show others how a 3D printer they can build themselves uses recycled plastic to make new things.
They are among the more than 100 exhibitors at the eighth annual Portland Mini Maker Faire, a showcase for creativity and do-it-yourself technology.
The event runs from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sept. 7 and 8 at the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, 1945 S.E. Water Ave. Admission is $16 for adults, $10 for ages 3-13 and seniors 63 and older; OMSI members get in for half-price.
It's modeled on larger fairs in San Mateo — in California's Silicon Valley — and in New York.
"The passion that these people have for their hobbies and avocations is infectious, and they love sharing their talents and creativity with others," said Melony Beaird, events manager at OMSI.
Here are stories of two of the exhibitors:
Ryan Westcott and Walker Jones are seniors at Oregon Episcopal School, where they have founded their nonprofit Aeronautics Northwest to encourage students to explore science, technology, engineering and math.
They work with teachers to develop curriculum and lesson plans, and with students on building their own drones.
For the OMSI event, they will fly mini-drones within a tent — but not the full-size drone, known as "Big Boy," that they can fly on the Raleigh Hills campus.
"This is pretty impressive when it takes off," Jones said. "We can use it to talk about the different parts of a drone and demonstrate a wide range of things. But obviously we do not fly this large drone in a tent."
Westcott said their nonprofit aims at inspiring others in the same way he and Jones were. His real interest is in rocketry, and Jones's in computer coding, but Westcott says drones provide an entry for younger students.
"I can see it in kids when they fly a drone for the first time, or when they learn how a big drone is built," he said. "You can see it in their eyes, which just glow. You can tell their passion has been sparked."
They have run a six-day camp for OES students.
Westcott was a speaker at the TEDx Youth Portland event in 2018. He is a two-time participant in the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair, representing his school and Oregon, and placed first for the Air Force award and third for embedded systems.
Sam Smith of Portland is taking part in his second Mini Maker Faire with his second try at a 3D printer.
"Last year I had all of the parts for this machine in a box," he said. "People asked me what they were and I said it's going to be a 3D printer that uses recycled plastic. They said: Let us know what you get it working. So I am excited to bring it back and show what I have learned."
He has two goals.
One is for his 3D printer to recycle plastic — high- and low-density polyethylene, and polypropylene, which together account for about half of all plastic waste — to make new things from shredded flakes, instead of prepared filaments. Right now he uses discarded plastic tubes from a business that tests wine samples.
According to 2015 estimates, only 20% of plastic waste is recycled; the rest is discarded or burned.
The second is for his 3D printer to promote open-source hardware — injection molders, convection ovens, extruders and shredders — that people can build on their own and recycle their plastic waste.
"All those machines have existed on the industrial scale for years, but nothing that was small and easy to make," he said.
"This hardware is not particularly new or innovative. I could not patent it if I wanted to. But it's useful only if a lot of people can start doing it everywhere all at once."
Smith's eventual goal is for his 3D printer to make two halves that can be fused into a surfboard.
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