Saturday I attended the Bay Area Maker Faire. So many smart people with great ideas, super interesting projects, and an amazing willingness to openly share what they’ve learned. Sounds a little like a library, doesn’t it? If you’re not familiar with the Maker Faire, the website describes the event as celebrating “arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset” (so says the Faire’s ample Wikipedia page). It’s *amazing* and totally worth your effort to attend (which for me included going to 7 parking lots unsuccessfully before finally parking at a store a mile away and walking…totally worth it).
I attended to get inspired — to see what people are building, making with their hands, and creating out of the ideas floating around in their beautiful brains. Below is my photo essay with a few of my favorite parts of MakerFaire, and why I loved them.
MacGyver Class - a great kit to help kids build things out of duct tape, paper clips, egg cartons, rubber bands, etc. Possible library program? Absolutely!
Kit to create a listening device disguised as a hardcover book. Totally kick-butt library craft project (soldering required; beware burns)!
Gigantic kinetic sculpture. Kids turn the wheel, cogs and wheels turn, and sound is made. NEAT to watch!
So many exhibits had things you could build. Creative expression ruled supreme, demonstrating how important interactivity is to a successful program. Lesson to be learned for all libraries.
$2.99 + a used soda can = one speaker/amp you can use with your iPod or other portable device. Another cheap craft project for the library!
A cool interactive light sculpture. Every one of these lights turns on and off upon being touched. A living, always-changing light sculpture. Called "tap tap animation."
This is totally something I want to do on our lawn. Personalize your blox, then add it to the crowdsourced sculpture.
Android zoetrope with dancing jumping Android robots. Sweet geekdom!
The ever amazing Bre Pettis at the MakerBot booth. MakerBot 3D printers are changing the world, people. Learn more at http://www.makerbot.com (and buy one for your library).
Animated globe made w/ 2D flexible neon tubing. This looked awesome and quite 3D from across the room, and getting closer you could see it was all done in neon in 2D!
Everyone, young and old, was pushing through these air sculptures. Again, the word "interactive" is key!
A *huge* kinetic rock sculpture (a.k.a. how to get kids to run around underneath boulders supported by rusty metal). Not recommended for library use. ;)
A trailer converted into a moving band - instruments mounted to the walls, totally inviting to play whatever and wherever you wanted. The idea of community-sourced music was huge at the Maker Faire.
Magic pointer stick thingie turned an ordinary projector & screen into an interactive touchscreen. Srsly. Potential for teaching classes? Heck yes!
This last photo is from a big event on the main stage, and it reinforced the need for "the wow factor" to really make memories that last. 1 million volts from Tesla coils zapping into kids in a metal cage, in time with electronic music playing. Truly cool! Can I have a Tesla coil for my library? Anyone? I'm taking donations!
All in all, I was amazed at how much inspiration I drew from the Maker Faire. And not just because I could see ways to insert some of the ideas into the library. I was in the presence of more collective brainpower than ever before (sorry library conferences). I was with people from a variety of interest areas and professions who just wanted to share what they loved and get other people to love it just as much. I saw geeky parents toting their equally geeky kids around, which gave me hope for the future of our planet (this nicely combats the “god-there-are-a-lot-of-really-stupid-people feeling that I often get while in public places). And lastly, I got to see some seriously cool futuristic stuff. But the weird thing is that the future is now, largely because people like those at the Maker Faire keep creating, testing, building, thinking, and…well…they keep making.
If you get the chance to attend a Maker Faire in your area, do it. You’ll come away happy and full of intrepid awesomeness.
As a totally dorky crafter, I’ve always wanted to go to this. Your pictures are amazing! However, I really don’t understand what’s going on with the Tesla coil. How is it that that’s safe? It seems I’m grossly uninformed about Tesla.
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