Attending a Maker Faire has been on my summer bucket list for a few years now, and finally, on Saturday, we traveled to Maker Faire® Detroit to see what it’s all about. Thousands of modern-day makers assembled at The Henry Ford in Dearborn, MI, to share and to learn, from making speakers from Post-it Notes® to carving eraser stamps. We spent the day soaking in the Maker Faire buzz, and marveling at the sights, both high tech and low tech. Maker Faire offers lots of hands-on activities, especially for kids, and in the end, we just wished that we’d had more time to sit down and make! Here are a few highlights from our day at Maker Faire Detroit.
You know you’re in for a fun day when the first thing you encounter is a roving chocolate cupcake!
Actually, there were a lot of fancy wheels touring around, thanks to Cirque Amongus.
From a small, wheeled . . . uhm, not really sure what it’s called . . .
To big wheels.
And a bicycle built for eight. Now, that’s teamwork!
A modern day chariot.
And a throwback time machine.
If you want to build your own wheels, the Power Racing Series encourages you to build your own, $500 electric vehicle and compete at Maker Faire. Or, maybe you’d like to try drag racing with your power tools? You can do that, too. And then there was this beautiful, mobile dragon.
I’ve been fascinated by 3D printing, and there were numerous opportunities to see 3D printers in action, and talk to the makers behind the machines.
We also stepped inside the Henry Ford Museum® and toured the Dymaxion House, an innovative home built from aluminum, plastic and Plexiglas way back in 1946. It was designed to be a modern, affordable home with no wasted space. Only two Dymaxion homes were built, and the museum combined the two to make one working model. It’s amazing how contemporary it is, and extremely space efficient.
The museum also has an Oscar Mayer Weinermobile from the 1950s. Classic!
Maker Faire isn’t all about robotics, gaming, engineering and high-tech pursuits, however. It’s also a celebration of handcrafts. When kids have had enough of the high-tech, they can explore old fashion crafts in the “Lost Arts” exhibit.
We also enjoyed touring the DIYpsi Indie Craft Fair, a mini craft fair of artists from Ypsilanti, Michigan. Hands down, our favorite was the reconstructed books from the Library Lab.
There were two grand finales to the day, at least in our minds. One was watching the World’s Largest Mousetrap, modeled after the Mousetrap board game. This life size “mouse trap” has many of the same features as the game, from bathtubs to pirate ships to levers, pulleys and gears. We watched as a bowling ball traversed the course, triggering a 600-pound weight to fall and crush a car. Now that’s a fun way to teach physics.
You’re familiar with the Coke and Mentos routine, right? Well, multiply that by about 20 for the EepyBird Coke & Mentos Spectacular that wraps up each day at Maker Faire.
And one last Maker Faire memory – fresh and amazing donuts from Detroit Mini Donuts.
My daughter is now inspired to make her own computer, and the raspberry pi kit is on her birthday list. How cool is that? And isn’t that what it’s all about? Whether you’re making with a soldering iron and circuits, or burlap and buttons, you’re doing and creating with your hands and your imagination.
From Anchorage to Paris, there’s probably a Maker Faire near you, so think about adding it to your bucket list. Like I said, our only regret is that we didn’t sit down and do more “making.” We were all caught up in the sights and sounds and marveling at all we saw.
Have you been to a Maker Faire? What did you do at Maker Faire?
(Note: When I attended SNAP, I met Lish Dorset who in addition to being a mad crafter and Martha Stewart aficionado, is the social media manager for The Henry Ford. Lish kindly sent to me passes to attend Maker Faire. All opinions expressed are my own.)