When i walked into Maker Faire New York, I was reminded of temple fairs that we used to attend as children. At any corner, I was expecting to see street vendors selling windmills and bright plastic toy watches. But instead, I found myself in makeshift tents where Scientists and Engineers shared innovations in everything from drones to robotics and even space technology, working side by side with Artists. Having been to several Maker Faires and having been involved in organizing a couple, I am always stumped when asked why a Maker Faire works when people are sharing stuff that are so different – from jewellery making to gardening robots. To me, the operative word is ‘sharing’. When Makers come together at a Maker Faire, they come with the expectation of sharing and teaching, and not just selling. Similarly, the audience coming to a Maker Faire, comes with the expectation of learning. I didnt fully realize this until Gladys Hang from hangmade by Gladys and Mo from Bikes4fun pointed it out to me at Maker Faire Singapore and the impact of it didnt fully sink in until I visited Maker Faire New York.
But I digress as I write about the World Maker Faire. The first thing I noticed about Maker Faire New York (and how could I not?) was that it was huge. With over 900 Makers and 200 presentations, World Maker Faire was gtruly sprawling.
My good friend and coorganizer for Maker Faire Singapore, Takasu, told me that on the first day alone, he had walked 22,000 steps.
There were, right at the start of the Faire, the crafters. A couple of crafters caught by eye among the large number crafters and artists at the Faire.
And then there were the buses. Primarily to bring the tools of Making to schools which donot have the access to these tools, including the Bio bus, which brought microbiology to the community. A number of children sat in front of the microscopes in the bus, fascinated by the crab eyes that the facilitators had loaded.
And no matter which country, everyone is fascinated by the battery and LED. Here was a long queue at the Intel booth, where volunteers showed Faire visitors how to connect the 2032 battery to a large LED.
And then I walked into Makershed and saw the large and small models by Erik and team of Strawbees
And Erik, who is constantly testing stuff, dragged me over to the New York Hall of Science, where I was very proud to see the work of our one and only Barthelomew Ting. Bart was sharing at World Maker Faire the bear head from Maker Faire Singapore and also his famous F1 cardboard car.
Crammed into the New York Hall of Science basement were all kinds of Makers imaginable, from cardboard modelling to DIY maths, origami, 3D printing and more.
The needlecraft assosciation had a large room to themselves. Volunteers were at hand teaching knitting, crochet, cross stitch, needle point and embroidery.
Makers also proudly displayed their past Maker of Merit ribbons from other Maker Faires.
Back outside, the New York Hall of Science educators curated a large area with several hands on tinkering activities, including a cardboard makerspace and a large knitting nancy.
I was also impressed by Tenith Aadithya, 15 year old Scientist and serial inventor. who has a number of patents and Guiness records to his credit.
And right next to Tenith was this brilliant space for young children to tinker from milk cartons, based on the Scrapkins book by Brian Yanish
It was also great to meet Koji Tsukada. Readers of this blog ma Tsukada san who gave a Nicotech talk at Science Centre with Inami San and Takasu. His speech jammer won him the Ignobel a few years ago, but now Tsukada San is working on something more serious and educational.
It was great meeting Dale Dougherty in his element, along with Sherry Huss, Sabrina Merlo and the rest of the Maker Media group.
Thanks to Sabrina, we found ourself in the dark room, with a wide range of unique
projects, including the paint by RGB by Jared and Joey Ficklin.
I was also glad to have had the opportunity to share at MakerEd talks about the work we do with the community to bring Making to the families and also about our Busy Hands Happy hearts book that we had published as part of Maker Faire Singapore.
All in all, it was a great trip, and I have probably shared less than a fraction of what was out there at New York Maker Faire. But before I close off the article, I would like to share my experience of making friction fire at World Maker Faire. I had never done this before and was totally fascinated by the process of working towards a pile of wood dust and creating smoke, spark and a flame. And here comes the final insight of the day – learning is like that – it takes a lot of work to create enough knowledge and experience so that when the spark comes along, the fire gets kindled.