Each year, our family makes the pilgrimage to San Mateo to check out all the incredible inventions, art projects, and unbridled creativity that is the Maker Faire. If you haven’t been, it’s worth a trip. The Maker Faire brings together “people who make things” – this includes everything from scientists experimenting in the kitchen to welders building fire-breathing octopus vehicles to a middle schooler who built a Rubik’s-cube solving robot out of Legos. Buy tickets now >
Maker Faire is a particularly family-friendly affair because almost everything is hands-on, perfect for a curious (or impulsive) child. There is something for everyone at Maker Faire, and if you love the quirky Bay Area — and can stand some crowds — it is well worth your time.
In no particular order, here are a few of the things I’m looking forward to seeing this year at Maker Faire:
- Life Sized Mousetrap. A trip to the Maker Faire wouldn’t be complete without seeing this in action… and the kids will go full melt-down if we miss it. It’s like the cheap plastic board game you played as a kid, but this thing is huge and made of lots of metal! Bonus: there’s a giant safe that squashes the mouse at the end! Each year brings some new alteration to the contraption, can’t wait to see what it is!
- Brave Robotics – Continuing the theme of kids toys brought to life: actual Transformers. My kids want to see this in person after watching this video:
They say it’s totally like the transformers they had when they were kids. Oh wait, that was me.
- Dream Catcher – Fiesta Hall is a large pavilion that is dark all day, and is a great place to take a break from the sun. It is also filled with some amazing, immersive art projects. I can’t really make heads or tails of the Dream Catcher, but if it’s like any of the other exhibits in there, it’s sure to be amazing.
- Tapigami – I’m pretty sure this is a giant sculpture created by everyone who happens by and wants to wrap masking tape around something.
- RallyBowl – This is some kind of mini-golf/bowling game invented right here in the east bay. I assume it is fun.
- Talks: There are always a ton of really incredible lectures and demonstrations. Some of the talks are really aimed at grownups where people talk about their work, their maker philosophy, success in classrooms, and more. The more kid-friendly talks are usually amazing demonstrations of cool inventions.
- AmuCity – Confusingly intriguing: An amusement park brought to you by a 15 and 16 year old? Promising “yellow and red lights”, I mostly just want to know how big this is… 1 foot tall? 20 feet tall?
- The Cosmic Carousel – Another one of these “I don’t know what this is, but it’s interactive and weird, so I’m sure it’s cool!”
- Bikes! There are always an amazing collection of strange and wonderful bike inventions — from Cyclecide’s crazy altered bikes to this new exhibit of ebikes and eboards — that are sure to inspire some crazy backyard inventions. Don’t miss the OVY pedal racers or the Frankentrikes, either!
- Vertical Gardening – we all want to grow more in our tiny East Bay yards, right? Apparently the answer is growing UP! I can’t wait to see how to implement this at home. If gardening isn’t your thing, maybe you just want to let your veggies ferment?
There’s so much more to see, I can’t wait to discover the unexpected surprises! Buy tickets now >
Here are some photos of my family from years' past.
Pro Tip: Be early, early, early. The place starts getting crowded around noon – the magic hours from 10am to noon give you the most opportunity to do stuff. Avoid long entry lines by buying your ticket online and getting to an fairground entry by 9:45 am. All the parking lots are off-site, and involve a 15 minute walk, so plan accordingly! We try to leave Berkeley by 8:30 so we aren’t in a rush once we arrive.
[Photo of the cosmic carousel was from Rick Egan; Maker Faire logo is from MakerFaire.com; all others are from the Flett family; all rights reserved]
Disclosure: We received media passes to the 2016 Maker Faire to report to you. All opinions are ours.