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Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Life-Sized Mousetraps and R2-D2s This Weekend at The Maker Faire

Posted By on Wed, May 18, 2016 at 3:30 PM

click to enlarge FLICKR/GIDGE
  • Flickr/Gidge
If you build it ... they will come.

The Maker Faire got started in 2006, a year after the launch of Maker Media's Make Magazine, a project dedicated to DIY technology projects. The event brings together creatives from all over the world, showcasing makers and their myriad creations.

Think of it like a giant science fair for kids or kids at heart who never grew up or never stopped playing, experimenting, and making things.

"The format that we've decided to follow is really kind of a modern day county faire type format," Sherry Huss, Vice President for Maker Media said. "So, you know, rockets and robots and family activities and sort of a weekend celebrating making."

Since its inception, the Maker Faire has grown, and it now hosts over 170 Maker Faires across the globe, including Rome and Cairo. They have three flagship faires: the mothership faire in the Bay Area, World Maker Faire New York, and the National Maker Faire in Washington D.C. Last year's Bay Area event had over 1,200 maker entries, and attracted over 145,000 attendees.

2016's Bay Area Make Faire will take place this weekend — May 20-22 — at the San Mateo Country Event Center, and includes everything from a 50,000 lb., life-sized mousetrap, an Astro Botanical Garden called the Dragon Glow Forest, KitRex cardboard dinosaurs, and even The Bay Area R2 Builders, a group that creates full size, fully functional R2-D2 Droids from Star Wars.

Yeah, maybe these are the droids you are looking for.

click to enlarge FLICKR/GIDGE
  • Flickr/Gidge
"[In] older times when it was more agro based, people were bringing, instead of their rockets and robots, their pigs and pies to the faire," Huss said. "And now that socialization, that being around other people, that being inspired and finding people that care about the same things that you care about, are pretty important. And I think that's what makes Maker Faire so special."

Other draws this year include Rock the Bike's pedal-powered stage, where local bands will be performing on a stage fueled by pedal power. For the trigger happy out there, the faire will host one of the West Coast's largest drone racing pavilions, and also will have a drone combat area, as well as a free-fly area for people looking to try controlling drones for the first time.

Guests this year include Adam Savage (Mythbusters), scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy, Julio Terra (Kickstarter), Matt Richardson (Raspberry Pi), and Dutch artist Theo Jansen.

The fair also has a focus on hands-on audience participation, with 40 percent of maker exhibits having some sort of hands-on component. No need to worry about just looking: faire-goers will be able to get down and dirty and touch and play, too.

click to enlarge FLICKR/GIDGE
  • Flickr/Gidge
"Kids are naturally curious," Huss said. "And so obviously getting a chance to get hands-on and seeing things, I think that's really powerful."

Hands-on activities at various faires run the gambit, and can include everything from learning how to ferment, can, or garden; work with bees; knitting, crocheting, welding, or working with iron; making jewelry. 

And it's that back-and-forth between the makers and the audience that is part of what Huss enjoys seeing the most at the various Maker Faires.

"I think the thing that makes me most happy is that everyone — the audience and the makers — are just engaging at a level that you just don't see in other places," Huss says. "It's a really friendly and fun crowd. I do think that people think that they've found their tribe."

Bay Area Maker Faire
, Friday-Sunday, May 20-22, at the San Mateo County Event Center 1346 Saratoga Dr., San Mateo.

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Willie Clark


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