Bay Area Maker Faire

In May I presented on two panels at the Association of Children’s Museums conference (about making with young children, as well as a panel that was an introduction to the concept of makerspaces in museums) and then immediately scooted up the coast to Bay Area Maker Faire in San Mateo, California. I also spoke very briefly there, but the best part was definitely walking around and taking in all the sights.

We’ve hosted the Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire in the past and as big and fun and terrific as it is, it’s nothing compared to the event in California. Imagine… well, anything you can imagine! All in once place! With hundreds of thousands of people who are also there to imagine amazing things and see kinds of cool things people can make and create and build and think up!

Tomorrow, Derek and Molly are chaperoning some students from our afterschool program to attend Maker Faire Detroit, in Michigan. They’ll be joined by some kids from Assemble. I think it may be the first big Maker Faire for everybody who is going — they’re going to be in for a treat! Here are just a few highlights from my trip:


El Pulpo Mechanico (The Mechanical Octopus) moves and shoots flames



The Light Cloud allows people to shift the colors of this cloud built out of old lightbulbs


Russell the Giraffe is a frequent visitor to Maker Faires!


These upcycled old televisions had computer monitors put inside so that they “work” once more


Chess Playing Robot is exactly what the name suggests


The Sand Noise Device was beautiful to look at, fun to play with and nice to listen to


Every time I passed Giant Cardboard Robots there were lots of people with huge smiles and huge arms


Tapigami always looks amazing


I want a Giant Spirograph of my very own now!


You may know that I love pinball. A group of 5th graders from Hillbrook worked with the cool folks from Pacific Pinball Museum to build their own, working machine! I love the one we built last summer, but theirs sure looks more professional that ours.


Cool! We do sculpture soldering workshops, too! I love this handwritten sign in the Young Makers area.


That is one unnecessarily-high five…. You had to jump to reach the hanging hands


The Tech Museum of Innovation is developing an exhibit on hacking which looks really interesting. In this part, participants are locked into booths and have to “hack” their way out. The slower hacker has a “computer virius” of ping-pong balls unleashed on them!


The folks at Mobile Sound Lab were really nice and had an awesome collection of recycled instruments they’d created. Spin this wheel and it hits the little tabs, making sound.


ZarPlotter is basically a marker on strings, but it’s so fun to watch! Four motors pull the marker around to draw perfect, complex designs.

Those were just a few of the things that I saw. There were also a bunch of great presentations, interesting vendors and delicious snacks. I hope everybody in Detroit has as much fun as I had in Bay Area!




Rebecca has been a MAKESHOP intern, educator, Teaching Artist and Manager. She's also been a graphic designer, costume shop manager, shoe salesperson, and hair stand-in for Fabio.

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