Published June 24, 2014
by Eva Levy, National Geographic Kid Reporter
I recently met a lot of inventors at the first ever White House Maker Faire. I got a chance to hear President Obama talk about how America should be proud of all of these inventors. He said America needs inventors so we can learn more and keep us strong as a country.
President Obama addresses a large crowd of engineers, scientists and other innovators at the first-ever White House Maker Faire.
One of my favorite inventions was Russell, the electric giraffe. It can walk, talk, move and carry up to 30 people. It is 17 feet tall and weighs about 2,200 pounds. That’s over one ton! Lindsay Lawlor built the giraffe because he wanted “children to learn while touching” the giraffe.
Lindsay Lawlor, the inventor of an electric giraffe named Russell, speaks to a crowd of media. Lawlor takes Russell around the country and invites students to learn through touching his invention.
“If you teach children about how two gears go together,” Lawlor said, “they don’t learn as much as they would if you put the gears into the their hands and let them figure it out themselves.” When I asked Lawlor what he learned from failing or messing up along the way, he said, “you fail when you give up.”
I got the chance to meet Joey Hudy, the first and last person to ever shoot a marshmallow cannon in the White House. At the 2010 White House Science Fair, Hudy and President Obama launched marshmallows with Hudy’s marshmallow cannon inside the White House. Afterwards, Hudy gave his card to the president. The card states, “Don’t be bored. Make something.”
National Geographic Kid Reporter Eva Levy with Joey Hudy, inventor of the marshmallow cannon. The idea for the invention came when Hudy was bored in class and figured out a way to slingshot his pencil across the classroom.
I also met Camille Beatty, age 14, and Genevieve Beatty, age 12. They love building robots. They first learned about robots by taking one apart and watching robot videos on YouTube. They are working on “naturebots” like a snailbot that can curl up in its shell and then “slug” around.
The Maker Faire was so interesting and inspiring to me. Inventing is not for adults only. It’s for kids too. So next time you have an idea for an invention, why not make it a reality?
Photographs by Farley Fitzgerald and Eva Levy