Allie Weber has been thinking about inventing since she was five. When she told her parents she wanted to build a robot for the science fair, they weren’t crazy about the idea. They told her to wait until she was older. The next year, months before the science fair, she told them she was going to start creating her robot. After a few hours, she came back up with “Robie” the recycled robot, half done.
Weber has been inventing ever since. She maker talents have now even carried her onto a role on the new Science Channel series, MythBusters Jr. On the show, Weber and some fellow junior MythBusters are testing myths, just like the original hosts, Adam and Jamie, did. We sat down with Weber to ask her about the experience, as well as what science projects she is working on next.
1. What was the process like of getting picked to be on MythBusters Jr?
Getting picked for MythBusters Jr was actually pretty interesting. A talent agent from the production company was looking for kids with a background in STEM, and they found me through an article in my local newspaper about one of my inventions, the Got Your Back Binder Strap. I tried out by doing a couple of skype videos. I even did one Skype interview while I was at space camp as that was when they needed it. Eventually I got the call saying that I would be on the show, and I was so excited. I was probably bouncing off the walls all day.
2. Were you a fan of the original show? If so, did you have a favorite myth?
I watched a lot of the original show, and my favorite episode was the Indiana Jones Special where they tested all the myths from that series. I really like Indiana Jones, and it was cool to see if using a whip to swing across a trench, really would have worked or not. I also really like Duct Tape Island because it’s quite a ridiculous idea to see if you could use duct tape to build what you need to survive, but you could try to make those things at home too.
3. What resources would you recommend to kids who want to learn more about STEM and making? Do you have any favorite websites?
If you want to get started working with STEM or would like to learn more about projects you can do, there are a lot of platforms that can help. The Sparkfun website has a lot of kits as well as tutorials. Digikey electronics has almost any component on the face of the planet for you to order when you’re looking for parts. Adafruit has a lot of fun projects you can work on. I also recommend the online kids site DIY.org it lets you explore all kinds of skills through challenges and you earn badges and get to talk with other kids about their projects. I was on there a lot when I was 10 and 11 and am still a huge fan. You can check out my YouTube channel at Tech-Nic-Allie Speaking. It has tech toy reviews, showcases of my inventions and innovations, and also cool how-to videos that can be fun to watch.
4. What new maker skills you are working on learning now?
I feel like I have done a bit of everything but don’t consider myself a master in anything. I code in Arduino, work with Python, can handle the block coding stuff in multiple platforms, 3D design, work with power tools, wiring, soldering, 3D printing, boards, Arduino, raspberry pi, machine sewing, quilting, woodworking, upcycling, electronics repair, and even done some welding and car repair. I don’t see them as skills as much as tools I have used to make my prototypes or projects. So when I need to use one, I learn more and build my skill in the one, as I go. I’m working on a small materials engineering project which is more chemistry based for this year’s science fair, which is new territory for me.