I had the extreme pleasure to attend Maker Faire today as a media rep and “scout” before bringing my children, age 6 to 13, tomorrow. Let my notes guide your choices.
Maker Faire Bay Area highlights for families
Maker Faire this year seems to have even more hands on activities this year. Even though the general themes are the same every year, the whole fair is about creativity, which means every year brings something completely new that you’ve never seen.
- I was particularly impressed with all the games and projects that the kids at Dos Pueblos Engineering Academy (http://www.dpengineering.org) had made. They had en entire tent and it was worth spending an hour in there. The games were a lot of games of dexterity and problem solving, and all of the projects were very much hands on – you could tell they were made by kids who liked to *play* and not *just* be educational. I was just as impressed with the kids themselves – they were knowledgeable, engaged and really excited to show off their projects.
- The giant mech (2 demonstrations daily) was crazy cool. (pictured above) Absolutely huge and scary and amazing as the man inside awkwardly piloted it around the demo area. I felt like I was getting a glimpse inside some future SciFi battle on a distant planet.
- One of the big new things this year was a VR (Virtual Reality) building which is much cooler than it sounds. People, companies and even middle schools are coming up with new and weird ways of using VR. I wanted to try out “Chicken VR” but I would have been the only adult in line!
- The Exploratorium seems to have upped their game – they had a more formal workshop area where you could make some very cool and creative mechanical contraptions out of wood and wire, but there was a lot of guidance and the staff made sure that it didn’t get too crowded in the work area.
- The LEGO Great Ball Contraption is back and better than ever – LEGO bricks have been at Maker Faire since the beginning but the Great Ball Contraption started joining the fun in the last year or two. The “GBC” as it is known is even more in the spirit of the fair than the piles of lego: it’s a wonderful collaboration and demonstration of fantastic physical feats. Follow one of hundreds of little lego balls as it makes its way through 20+ stages of lego contraptions, each stage made by a different lego enthusiast.
And there’s so much more! Don’t miss out – just make sure to get there 30-60 minutes early to get decent parking. The big crowds get there after lunch, so the hours from 10-12 are really the best time!
Some of my favorite photos are on twitter @510families!