The Faire!

The very idea of trying to write about the Maker Faire is overwhelming. There was so much to see, and I had such a wonderful time, I don’t even know how to begin to process it in an articulate way. So I guess I will just do some highlight bullet points and see where that takes me.

1. SEW for SOS. The kids represented. On day one, their booth (and some other booths–not just them) was in a not-great location, kind of set off from the main activity of the Faire. This was probably both a good and a bad thing–they didn’t have to be overwhelmed by too much activity and chaos on the first day, but they also didn’t get to be in the thick of things. On day 2, however, they were moved to a better location, and the action picked up. I don’t know if they counted how many pillows were sewn, but I do know they ran out of stuffing and also won a Blue Ribbon award from Make. I was really proud of them–it’s not easy to do all that traveling and be “on” for two straight days with thousands of people walking by and asking about your project, but they handled it like pros.


Blue Ribbon Award presentation


Writing messages to go inside their pillows.


So proud!

2. Physical computing.  I think this is what might have most interested me–exhibits where folks were combining microcontrollers with real world materials to make stuff do stuff. Some of this was robotics, and some just off-the-wall creative stuff.  I could see my students having so much fun exploring this kind of thing–I kept snapping photos so I could share with the kids and see what inspires them.


Combining old pinball tech with arduino to create custom pinball machines. The guy who made this was AWESOME.


Cool cube with spinning things


Boat thing made of Lego connected to a microcontroller


Lego car connected to microcontroller

3. 3D-printed artwork. I will confess that I have not been as moved by the whole 3D printing revolution as some folks. I think it is extremely cool and has amazing potential for the world (and I was really intrigued by the two displays I saw devoted to 3D-printed prosthetic hands), but I happily breezed past most of the 3D-printing exhibits. Until I came to Shane Hope‘s exhibit.  Here’s a photo of his sign, because the description is still a bit incomprehensible to me:


Here are a few of his pieces:

IMG_2042 IMG_2043 IMG_2044


I’m not an art critic at all, but these pieces were super compelling for some reason.


4. Good people, doing what they love. It’s wonderful to be able to just stop and talk to people about their work and passions. I didn’t do nearly as much of this as I wish, in retrospect, I had done. But even when I couldn’t stop to talk for long, the energy coming off of these people just filled me up.


Sparkfun Guy!


Teen inventor/innovator


Robot artist

5. Weird stuff.  Giant cardboard robotic dinosaurs with kids inside. Crocodile bicycle trains. Huge robotic creatures. Sculptures made from junk. There was no limit to the weird and wonderful.


Huge Flow game


Cool machine that tracks data


Giant robot


Life size game of Mousetrap


Junk Sculptures


Cardboard robotic dinosaur with kid inside

Honestly, that’s just the tip of the iceberg.  I had an amazing weekend, and I’m so grateful to have been able to attend the Faire. I also had a wonderful soup dumpling dinner in Flushing with friends; a chance to visit with a former colleague while we explored the Faire together; an amazing hotel experience and view; and relatively smooth travel.  A++ weekend!


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