So what is a Maker Faire? As the name implies a maker faire is an event that focuses on all things making related. They were originally sponsored and delivered by the people behind Make magazine, but in more recent times the brand has been franchised and mini events have been taking place across the globe. The exhibits at these events range from individuals demo’ing their latest crazy project to companies showcasing tools or services they offer in and around the maker scene (think Sparkfun for electronics, think Autodesk for design tools, think Ponoko for personal fabrication, the list goes on and on).
The event is such a fantastic experience, not only because of the vast array of (Visual/Aural/sensory) experiences one can avail of but more specifically because of the can-do attitude of those present. In this day and age alot of people have lost the desire to get hands on with the objects that surround us. Technology companies have created a barrier (for some) and left many paralyzed by the fear of breaking something or causing (heaven forbid) a breach in warranty!! Maker faire above all else exhibits a sense of, “why the hell not?!”
There were booths with kids doing electronics classes, that in itself was a sight to behold, kids were learning and then sharing what they’d learned with others who might have been temporarily stuck on a step. Parents were handed liability waivers and children were handed soldering irons! It was how it should be, no cotton gloves – just kids getting on with it, learning and most importantly having fun! (note, it was a totally safe environment!)
There were speakers at the event discussing various topics such as the specifics of their technology or craft of choice, or others debating the alternatives to the standard approach to education. A note that resonated with this attendee was the acknowledgement that many children who have energy above and beyond what some adults might appreciate are often the most focused makers. With the right project or the right tool this abundance of energy gets converted into skill/knowledge and pleasure. This isn’t to say making is the hands-on alternative to academic achievement, it was merely an observation by some of the highest achieving makers there that they were the trouble makers in school, the kids who could not sit still, the ones the teachers struggled to communicate with and yet here they were now building businesses around the skills they were once told were pointless, using this abundant energy to propel them along.
Swinging in the Rain
Some of the highlights from an exhibit sense were the rain-swings, a set of swings that drip a line of water in front of the swinging participant as they are on a downward swing. Giving them impression that you may imminently be getting rained on! (watch the clip to see them in action http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=th7mlfuXR7Q).
The Sashimi Tabernacle Choir
See a great interview with the maker here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kYlSTvAW1Po
The tallest 3d printer we’ve ever seen!
Other honorable mentions go to the inspired individual who has set his aims in making the first Rice Krispie 3d printer! He only had a frame on show at the event, but no doubt – it’d be a popular device should he succeed!
The key takeaway from the whole experience was that New Zealand does have the capacity to host an event like this. Initial discussions with Make have been positive and they’d be keen to get behind an event here.
Having had many a project great demo’d at the regular makers meetup (http://www.meetup.com/WellingtonMakers/) we’re confident we have sufficient great projects to put on a good show.
What we’d really like to see is makers/artists/parents/children get in touch with projects they’d like to demo. Please get in touch if you’d like to be involved in or attend such an event!