The Maker Faire: A Steampunk Science Fair for Grownups

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Everyone loves homemade goods. Something about the thought and care that goes into making a blanket or socks makes the item invaluable.

Even Jayne Cobb melts when receiving a hand-knit hat. Harrison Ford was famously a carpenter before hitting it big. It’s not like this “do-it-yourself” attitude is anything new; the era of mass production is relatively recent. Yet in the past decade, the crafting that has been largely seen as quaint, has gotten momentum thanks to The Maker Faire.

jaynes hat The Maker Faire: A Steampunk Science Fair for Grownups

The modern-day Makers congregate at The Maker Faire. Largely young intellectuals, the do-it-yourself crowd (colloquially DIY) are a far cry from the motherly sewing circles that typically embody the word “crafting”. These diverse techies work on everything from the absurd to the absurdly useful. The robots that leverage the Xbox Kinect for a pseudo-AI experience while spitting flames exist on a “because it’s cool” level. Nano technology demonstrations, 3D printers, energy-efficient vehicles, and countless classes to teach children how to use the Raspberry Pi are invaluable on an applicable level.

The Maker Faire got its start in 2006 as a festival inspired by its parent publication MAKE Magazine. MAKE Magazine launched in 2005 and primarily publishes project ideas for any level of tinkerer. It combines the fun of chemistry kits with the delicacy of model airplanes to inspire kids and adults alike to see the possibilities of what they can craft.

450px Maker Faire 2008 spinning lights 11 The Maker Faire: A Steampunk Science Fair for Grownups

Light sculpture at The Maker Faire

Initially held in San Mateo, California, there are now dozens of Maker Faires across the country and internationally. It is like a steampunk science fair for adults (and kids!). You can expect to see steam-powered vehicles driven by mustachioed man in top hats. Look for perfect replicas of R2D2, controlled by a simple chipset. Marvel at the gargantuan TeslaCoil that plays hair metal and video game themes. Learn how to knit, or how to program, or how to grow flowers in your apartment.

The Maker Faire gives start-ups an opportunity to showcase their wares. It gives tech giants a way to reach out. It gives after-school robotics programs a voice. It’s a safe place for cosplayers of all types. There is entertainment and talks on everything from DIY Sriracha to Punk Rock And the Origins of the Maker Movement. It’s a social atmosphere and it exists primarily to inspire and educate.

More information about the Maker Movement, how to get involved, and where to find a local Maker Faire can be found on the Maker Faire’s website. The flagship San Mateo Maker Faire is May 17th-18th. Let us know in the comments if you’ve attended a Maker Faire and what your favorite part is!

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