Balam Soto and His Daughter Win Recognition at New York City World Maker Faire-2012

Balam Soto and his 13 year old daughter, Jade Soto, presented Westport’s Mini Maker Faire in April this year. They made quite a team at the World Maker Faire held in New York City at the NY Hall of Science Museum this past weekend. They were awarded two Editor’s Choice ribbons for their performance of “The Body Sound Suit”, an original piece that combines Balam’s technological innovations with Jade’s dance performance.

Balam, a visual artist who develops artistic, interactive technologies, developed “The Body Sound Suit” to allow performers to generate their own music and visual projections through their movement. Jade, who studies ballet and modern at the Connecticut Concert Ballet in Manchester, began working with Balam on the suit about three years ago. “When I dance in the Suit, I am in complete control over my environment which is both challenging and fun as a dancer. I dedicate a lot of my time to dancing every week and being awarded not just one Editor’s Choice, but two, is really exciting!”

“I love having the chance to work with my daughter. She’s such a talented artist and choreographed the piece we performed this weekend on her own. Since we began working together on this, she has given me a lot of important feedback, which has allowed me to improve the suit. Our next step is to expand the performance to include an electronic instrument that I developed. This will get me on stage performing with her,” said Balam.

The development of this suit was supported by the City of Hartford’s Artist Grant, which Balam won in 2010. He recently won another grant from the city, the Hartford Business Grant for Innovative Entrepreneurs. This grant is supporting the development of Balam’s innovative technologies into do-it-yourself electronics kits that teach people about electronics through fun projects. These new kits were also unveiled at the Maker Faire event over the weekend.

“The city of Hartford has been very supportive of my artistic and technological works and that support has made it possible for me to succeed as an artist and a developer,” commented Balam.

Balam Soto is the co-owner of Open Wire Lab, a company dedicated to the development and sale of creative, innovative technologies. For more information, visit www.openwirelab.com.

Staples High School Student Wins Editor’s Choice Award at World Maker Faire 2012

Michael Colley, a senior at Staples High School, Westport, Connecticut, won the prestigious Editor’s Choice Blue Ribbon Award at the World Maker Faire 2012.  The event was held at the New York Hall of Science on September 29 and 30. The World Maker Faire has been described as the world’s most extraordinary gathering of DIY talents in science, technology, crafting, fashion, food, and sustainability.

Michael Colley and his Award Winning Bow

“Makers exemplify what happens when you unleash your curiosity and creativity,” said Margaret Honey, President and CEO of the New York Hall of Science. “In grade school, we learn about critical thinking and the scientific method. At World Maker Faire, we see those concepts taken to scale in ways that are inventive, whimsical, and often larger than life.”

The staff of MAKE and Maker Faire award Maker Faire Editor’s Choice Ribbons to the Makers that have demonstrated great creativity, ingenuity and innovation for their Maker Faire project. These ribbons are handed out at each event and signify the highlights of Maker Faire. Maker Faire Editor’s Choice Blue Ribbon Winners embrace the DIY Spirit and inspire Makers of all ages.

Michael Colley and Alex Angus at World Maker Faire New York 2012
Michael Colley and Alex Angus at World Maker Faire New York 2012

Colley’s invention is an archery bow that can be made at home using materials purchased from most hardware stores for less than twenty dollars.  He also showed a modified version that cost about thirty dollars to make, but is considerably more powerful and durable. His creation was selected not just for ingenuity but for the amount of excitement it generated at the event. There were long lines as people of all ages waiting to try out the bow in a makeshift archery range.

“I have always wanted to make a bow, so invented my own.  It functions like a traditional bow, but it gets its power from springs, instead of wood,” explains Colley. Many experienced archers and amateur bow makers visited his booth and provided feedback. They commented that Colley’s modified version was as powerful and effective as any traditional bow.

“I love to build,” said Colley. “I like to create new ways of doing things, and rethinking how they work. I recently found my passion for building, and am now embracing it whenever I can. Colley is considering majoring in industrial or product design in college, so he can pursue a career that embodies the maker spirit.