Science and engineering can be awe-inspiring. The language of science and engineering? Not so much. Imagine a carnival crier trying to sell robots using technical jargon. You there! Yes you! Step right up and see an automaton algorithmically determine the end-effector velocity of variable joint speeds with a matrix of first-order partial derivatives!
Terrible. It’s no wonder only 6% of US high school students go on to get a science-related degree. To help bridge the gap and share the awe, Brent Bushnell and Eric Gradman’s Two Bit Circus is producing the STEAM Carnival, a hands-on event featuring “robots, fire, and lasers to inspire young inventors in science, technology, engineering, art, and math.” Doesn’t that sound lovely?
Two Bit Circus successfully funded their $100,000 Kickstarter to underwrite two events, one in Los Angeles and one in San Francisco.
The show includes techie takes on carnival classics like the milk bottle ring toss—with a two foot flame when you nail your throw—and the test your strength hammer game measured in voltage. Then there’s a giant Space Invaders video game, a mechanical bull hooked up to a motion capture suit, and laser maze limbo.
Low and mid-level pledges will receive stickers, tickets, posters, or a rotocube (“your friends will admire your taste in laser cut wooden automata”). Meanwhile, top tier pledges can send their favorite school to the carnival or rent it out for a party.
STEM education (science, technology, engineering, and math) is a good thing, but adding an ‘a’ for art acknowledges inspiration is the keystone. The world at our doorstep is weird, wild, magnificent, awe-inspiring, and terrifying—when we remember to look closely. Speaking of which, here’s an excellent reminder of the importance of awe from one of our favorite carnival criers for science and tech, Jason Silva: