Rochester Enable Lab goes to the Rochester MakerFaire

by J.C. Pierre, Dec 7, 2018

On November 16 and 17,  Kai Mathews, Jesus Henriquez, Angel and I represented Vertus and the Rochester Enable Lab at the the STEAM Student Fest and the Rochester Maker Faire.   We were accompanied by our mentors Melvin Cruz, Skip Meetze, and Jon Schull.   We were all there to showcase what we do.  

The first day was kind of slow because the event was for teachers and students at elementary and middle schools.  In general, the kids were more interested in making ice cream or arts and crafts but, as Jesus wrote, “it was a really great experience getting to hear what people had to say to us, and to see how the kids really stayed to listen about what Re-NABLE was, and how the 3D printed hands worked.”

We also saw an interesting presentation that used magic tricks to make an important point:  you should always question stuff, because nothing is ever as it seems. The magician was trying to let it be known that you should never hold your imagination back; you should let it wander because the mind is a beautiful thing.

The second day was more interesting because it was aimed towards families and adults.  It was easier to explain our work to them.  We were also joined by James Whitlock of Western NY e-NABLE, who did a great job expanding and arranging our booth even further.  

Many people were amazed that a 3D printer could make functional hands for amputees, but they were even more taken aback when we told them that we were only in high school. Some people were almost brought to tears when they learned that we are high schoolers who just want to help people who are underserved. (Of course, it’s great that we get paid to do this, too!)

It was really fun to introduce the wonders of 3D printing to kids.  Jesus  “was very happy when I heard kids ask their parents to buy them a 3D printer so they could experiment”. It was also great  to hear teachers from other schools asking us to go to their schools and present Re-NABLE to students and staff..

        At the other MakerFaire exhibits, we saw a variety of 3D printers.  Some from RIT can print with amazing quality.  We also learned how to build a morse code system. and about software that can 3D print a model of your face just by scanning it.  Kai reported that he “got to experience lots of new technologies such as virtual reality, and robots that were programed to map buildings and make digital blueprints for construction companies.”  And there were groups who made their own robots for competitive events and challenges.

I learned something else too:  Presenting in class actually came in handy and gave me a very important life skill.  And even though you can accomplish something by yourself, it is a lot easier to have an impact by collaborating with others.