Brent Bushnell, the co-founder and chief executive of high-tech amusement company Two Bit Circus, has announced the launch date for STEAM Carnival – an entertainment showcase that re-imagines the classic midway with lasers, fire and robots.
The inaugural event will take place in Los Angeles' Crafted port-side warehouse on 25 and 26 October and will combine hands-on social games with project-based learning to inspire children to pursue science, technology, engineering, art, and maths (STEAM).
“We're out to show kids that engineering is the new rock 'n roll. We're using high tech games, project-based kits, and other fun to demonstrate what's possible with a technical background,” said Bushnell.
The idea for the STEAM Carnival came after several members of the Two Bit Circus team helped make a video for Chicago rock band OK Go. The engineers built a machine for the video which pours water, rolls balls down tracks, knocks over chairs, swings sledgehammers, releases umbrellas and balloons and fires paint – all in time with the music.
“After the video launched we received a lot of calls from parents and teachers telling us how inspired their kids were,” said Bushnell. “As nerds who build games and entertainment for a living we realised we had an opportunity to rebrand what it means to be an engineer. It's not just pencil ties and lab coats! This experience helped us realise that art has the power to bring a different audience to the engineering table. Love fashion? Introduce fashionistas to electronics to create wearable technology. Love music? Create a musical robot band!
The STEAM weekend will include live performances, interactive experiences, workshops, contests, and artisanal carnival food. There are also plans to take the carnival to San Francisco in 2015.
As part of the STEAM focus, student participants will have the opportunity to showcase projects through a variety of exhibitions including a wearable electronics fashion show and a junior arcade.
The STEAM carnival project gained momentum last June after a campaign on crowdfunding website Kickstarter raised $102,699 through user donations to fund its development.
Support has continued to swell since and the project now counts top LA officials among its supporters.