Brainchild of a great brain’s child (Brent Bushnell, son of Nolan), Steam Carnival set up a modest goal of $100K on Kickstarter and beat the clock with ease. No surprise: if you’re going to promise “a modern traveling carnival unlike any you’ve ever seen” you’ve got to have a bit of the old carnival barker in you. Project Steam Carnival aims to deliver on its promise beginning in LA and San Francisco next spring, with a “state-of-the-art big tent affair.” This won’t be the analog carnival Neil Young sang about, with “the barkers and the colored balloons.” Or if there are balloons, you’ll probably get to shoot them with lasers. Bushnell is an inventor: he and his team plan to bring the full-on tech parade to the fairgrounds near you.
Why STEAM? Four out of the five letters stand for what nervous parents hope their kids will study in college: Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. It’s the quartet of competence in which US students are always allegedly falling behind. But how can that be–in our tech-centric age? Brent Bushnell posits that the missing ingredient–the allure and the magic–is Art. So he put the A in his STEM and his carnival, and the art makes STEAM. Hot, right? You should get your tickets, so that years from now you can say you were at the first one the way people say they were Burning Man pioneers. There will be amazing things to see and do. A World’s Fair in a traveling tent. “When you say ‘engineering’ to most kids they zone out,” reads the Kickstarter bark, “But when you say ‘lasers, robots, and fire,’ you have their undivided attention.” And the astonished kids may just deduce that actual wizards exist, Harry be damned, and they’re called engineers.