Wiltonian exhibits at World Maker Faire

Blythe Serrano, an almost-13-year-old homeschooled student in Wilton, loves to make things.

She is a member of Wilton Library’s robotics team, Young Makers Club and Noodle Copter Club, and recently exhibited some of her creations at this year’s World Maker Faire in New York.

Blythe said she first got into the makers field after participating in a robotics class a few years ago, after which she and others in the class exhibited at the Westport Mini Maker Faire.

“I liked it so much that I went back the next year with my own project,” she said.

Blythe first got involved with Wilton Library’s clubs last year, when she joined the Young Makers Club.

“I wanted to work on my projects with help from knowledgeable mentors and meet other people my age who were also interested in making,” she said.

This year, Blythe joined Singularity Technology — the library’s robotics team. The previous year, she had been on another robotics team because she was too young to join Wilton Library’s.

“I joined [Singularity Technology] because it’s one of the only — if not the only — team robotics competitions for middle and high school,” she said, “and it looked very interesting.”

Last week, Blythe joined the Noodle Copter Club because, she said, she wanted to “try a new area of making.”

“We haven’t actually done very much yet, since we’ve only had one meeting,” said Blythe, “but we are going to be building our own versions of a quadcopter with a frame made from pool noodles.”

Blythe said she enjoys different aspects of each Wilton Library group.

“I like how in the Young Makers Club — unlike many other classes — everyone got to work on their own projects and ideas instead of one chosen by the teachers with an instruction manual,” she said.
“The robotics team is great, too, because it’s very collaborative and the competitions make it exciting. I haven’t done much of the Noodle Copter Club yet, but building a quadcopter from pool noodles seems pretty cool.”

World Maker Faire

World Maker Faire New York is an annual festival of invention, creativity and resourcefulness that celebrates the maker movement.

This year’s faire took place Sept. 26-27 and attracted a wide range of exhibitors — from technology enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, and engineers to science clubs, authors, artists, students, and commercial exhibitors.

“It was very big. There were a lot of creative makers there,” said Blythe, who had showcased at the Maker Faire one time before. “The only thing I didn’t like about having a booth is not being able to see the rest of the faire.”

The Maker Faire website estimates that this year’s World Maker Faire New York had more than 900 entries, 90,000 attendees and more than 65 sponsors.

At her booth, Blythe showcased two items she made for a start-up company she launched last year called 4 Paws Wearables.

4 Paws Wearables

“4 Paws Wearables is a company — or will be in the future, as I’m not selling anything yet,” said Blythe, who makes wearable electronics for pets.

Blythe, who owns two dogs and a cat, said she wanted to make her pets “safer and more visible to cars at night,” so she created light-up collars and sweaters for them.

“The Light-Up at Night Pet Collar lights up in the dark to make a dog or cat more visible to cars. It’s made of a rechargeable battery, a small light sensor, an on-off switch, and several more parts threaded through a canvas sleeve, which can then be Velcroed around the neck,” said Blythe.

“The Light-Up Dog Sweater is made of felt, and it buttons around the dog’s neck using a 3D printed button, which I designed in a program called SketchUp. It has 10 color-changing LEDs and makes crossing the street at night with pets safer.”

The Light-Up Dog Sweater also has a rechargeable battery, said Blythe, as well as a small Arduino board, which she programmed to make the LED lights change color.

“The 10 LEDs are connected to the Arduino using conductive thread, which is steel so thin you can sew with it,” she said.

At the World Maker Faire, Blythe said, she received an Editor’s Choice ribbon from the New York Hall of Science staff and met the founder and head of wearable electronics at Adafruit — an electronics and maker supplies company from which she gets her supplies for 4 Paws Wearables.

“They interviewed me and gave me a gift certificate,” said Blythe.

As for the future of 4 Paws Wearables, Blythe said, “I would like to make the collar sturdier and more professional-looking, then do a Kickstarter so I can actually manufacture them.”

“I’m planning on starting with the collar,” she said, “and if that goes well, moving on to the sweater and more products that I am still designing.”

Blythe said part of the money from each collar would go to a local animal shelter.
Click here to learn more about 4 Paws Wearables.
Click here to learn more about Maker Faire.