DURHAM – I hope I never see a dinosaur as close to my face as I did experiencing the Jurassic Park virtual reality program at the Digital Makerspace workshop presented by North Carolina State University Libraries at Moogfest on Saturday.

The VR experience  -which also included a Star Wars program – was one of many advanced digital technologies available for users to explore at the workshop. Others included a 3D printer, modular keyboard components to assemble, computer design programs, and a holographic screen scientists use for research.

Adults and kids of all ages experienced digital technologies at the NCSU Makerspace workshop.
All photos by Allan Maurer. Copyright Capitol Broadcasting. ARR

“VR was my favorite,” said Elise Hochberg, 11, of Chapel Hill, one of many children of all ages from toddler to teen trying the variety of digital technologies.

Experiences included making digital equipment from components.

“We try to plant the seed early,” said David Woodbury, head of the NCSU libraries learning spaces and services. The idea is to get kids interested in STEM learning.

David Woodbury, head of NCSU Learning Spaces and Services, shows how a component works.

At the Moogfest workshop, children created a background of keyboard notes, beeps, and flashing lights from equipment they built. They pinched images on the holoscreen to rotate them, designed dinosaurs on computer screens, and handled objects made by the 3D printer.

A child examines objects made by a 3D printer.

All of the activities featured at the workshop can also be experienced by NCSU students (and professors) at the library learning spaces, where some digital equipment can even be borrowed. The media labs not only have the digital equipment, they also have services around it to help users, Woodbury said.

“The library has been at the forefront of digital services for over a decade and the maker spaces were launched six years ago. “They’re free and open to the public to help them understand what’s going on,” Woodbury said.

A number of the technologies on display go well beyond digital play and games, however. The holographic screen, for instance, which can rotate around a 3D image, is used in NCSU research projects, such as a VR catalog of seed images for plant scientists.

The 3D printer looks like something out of a scifi movie.

The 3D printer objects on display included a model of a molecule as well as a toy-sized bell tower (an NCSU campus landmark), stars and other geometric objects.

Very appropriate for Moogfest: building a keyboard from components.

The holo screen, which provides 360 degree rotation of objects, is fun, but also used for scientific research.

For more information, see Makerspace Press & Publications.