“All right, ladies and gentlemen, we’ve got liftoff from Canyon High School.”
Those were the first words we heard, on Sunday, when visiting “OC Fair Imaginology” at the Orange County Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa.
Imaginology, which the OC Fair’s website describes as a “re-imagined youth expo”, combined STEAM–or science, technology, engineering, art and math–with a sense of fun. The result: a three-day free celebration of creativity and the communities of Orange County, with plenty to see.
At first glance, this group seemed to be a drone competition. Actually, they’re something even better.
“We’re actually testing these aero-robots, for doing search for survivors,” explained Professor Mike McCarthy, of UC Irvine. Professor McCarthy said the teams, comprised of students from local schools, were working with five different aerial robots in preparation for UC Irvine’s May 16th Rescue Robotics Invitational.
“This event combines ground robots with aerial robots,” he said. “Our ground robots, we’re going to bring them in, probably, on May 9th, to test them. They’re all fun, though.. It’s all sort of amazing to see them work.”
The “amazing” didn’t stop with robots–aerial or otherwise.
The exhibits in Imaginology’s Action Gallery North included these.
Professor McCarthy said these race cars are going to be in the Energy Invitational on May 24th on the UCI campus.
“We have probably four university race teams and about fifteen high school race teams (that have designed race cars),” he said. “The goal of this race is to drive for an hour, see how far you can go in that hour, with only a dollar’s worth of energy.” He added that the type of energy used is up to the designing team.
“It can be a combination of gasoline and electric power, or we’ve had teams do some sort of hydrogen power in the past. We have a team that does solar power,” Professor McCarthy explained. “So it’s a chance to get the students being aware of combining energy into vehicles that go fast.”
In best OC Fair tradition, though, the vehicles and robots were just one aspect of the fun.
Imaginology was a blend of attractions that have intrigued children for decades, and twenty-first-century innovation.
Ron Ponce, who teaches the North Orange County Regional Occupational Program, was demonstrating the use of this 3-D printer.
“All the white parts inside this are 3-D printed,” he said, offering a model automobile for inspection.
At Santiago College’s “Gemfoolery” display, young visitors were challenged to identify gemstones.
And Melinda Murray, of Urban Workshop, was on hand to tell guests about Southern California’s largest “maker space”. Just opened last summer, the Urban Workshop has now moved to a larger location. Melinda said they officially re-open tomorrow morning, Tuesday, April 28th at 10 a.m.–and that their new space is 18,500 square feet!
One of the highlights of “Imaginology” was the OC Maker Challenge Awards ceremony.
These were inventions created by teams of middle-school and high school students, to solve a problem or fill a need. Airwolf 3-D Founder and Chairman Erick Wolf gave out the awards.
The top winner of the competition was “The Cuplate“, which this Irvine Intermediate School group and their teacher invented to solve a common party problem: not enough hands!
There were three divisions to the competition. In the Level 3, or intelligent/enhanced prototype division, this “Disabled Hero Guitar” won first place.
The guitar, which Tustin High School students created for the Wounded Warrior Project, is designed so that someone in a wheelchair–or anyone sitting down–can play it comfortably.
Contenders for the Maker Challenge Awards were on display in the Action Gallery North. The judges had to have had a tough time, making a final decision! Some of our favorites included:
And this one–though we’re not sure it would be a “favorite” if it were in action in our bedroom in the early a.m.!
High-tech and low-tech activities added up to a great time at Imaginology.
Tractor shuttles, farm animals, food trucks and tire swings added to the “fun” factor–as did these!
We especially enjoyed this look at “retro” games and puzzles, in The Hangar.
Who knew that the classic board game, Chutes and Ladders, dated back to ancient India–or that the college favorite, Twister, was a dismal failure when it first appeared in the 1970s?
But perhaps one of the best parts of Imaginology was waiting in Action Gallery South.
Brand-new organization Imagine Science was showing guests how to create these lightboxes. (Imagine Science is the first-ever national partnership of the Boys and Girls Club of America, Girls Inc., the National 4-H Council and the YMCA of the USA!)
This art workshop was in progress.
This group was creating electronic projects.
At another table, these materials were being prepared for needlecrafting.
And all kinds of creativity was on display!
If Imaginology was any indication, the OC Fair’s “special birthday” celebration is going to be amazing! We’ll be looking forward to July!