By Nicholas Dal Porto
Last weekend. the San Mateo County Event Center came alive with the commencement of Maker Faire. For those unfamiliar with it, Maker Faire is billed as “The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth”. People from all backgrounds, all walks of life, all different parts of the world, convene on the grounds of the event center to showcase their wares, demonstrate products they’ve invented, or just to relax and enjoy the show.
The Maker Faire is the mecca of the so-called “Maker Movement”, which encourages people to use their talents and learn new ones by making projects that they are passionate about. Makers take things apart to see how they work, explore different fields of technology, and fuse them together to make multilayered creations.
In the last decade, the Maker Movement has exponentially exploded, partially caused by the creation of Make magazine, the quintessential documentation series about “making”, and considered by many to be the Bible that guides the hands of makers everywhere. It quickly became apparent that having a simple print publication for makers just wasn’t enough. What they needed was a large organized gathering, and hence, the Maker Faire was launched in 2006.
The exhibited wares were vast and diverse. Things ranged from your run-of-the-mill 3-D printers, quadcopters and other flying objects, high school robotics teams, to insane and large contraptions like giant animatronic fighting robots destroying automobiles. One of the most unique parts of Maker Faire is the giant darkroom. There’s an entire exposition hall dedicated to exhibits that require darkness to function. Inside, Thomas Weese, a Design Tech sophomore, found his favorite exhibit: “It had to be the giant spinning mannequins. In the center of the room was this large structure, with an extremely bright light in the center. There was an outer ring with vertical struts attached to it. Each strut had a mannequin in a different pose attached to it. As the outer ring rotated, the rapidly shifting light made it appear that the mannequins were engaged in fluid motion, raising and lowering their arms and legs. It was really crazy.”
It was Weese’s second Maker Faire experience. However, for Carlmont freshman, Isaac Raskin, it was his first time. “Going to the Makers Faire was a fun way to meet new people and explore new technology,” said Raskin. “The Makers Faire ‘Makers’ are creative hobbyists, both adults and students, who amaze people with their amazing creations.”
You might think that after repeated visits, Maker Faire might lose some of the allure it held for attendees on their first few visits. However, this notion is disproven by Los Altos High School senior, Cole Brinsfield, who attended Maker Faire for the sixth time this year..
“One of the main things I enjoy at Maker Faire every year is the accessibility it provides,” said Brinsfield. “I love being able to walk up to any booth, and start chatting with who are typically the engineers and designers behind the products displayed. Rather than trying to traverse buzzwords and marketing, I’m able to immediately start talking tech with those that share a common passion as I do.”
Alex Lederman, a d.tech junior, was at the Faire for the third time. “I really enjoy interacting with the various makers and the new technologies they’re bringing to the table,” said Lederman. “It’s cool to be able to talk so easily with small and large companies about their products.”
This year’s Maker Faire was exciting, no different than the 11 that preceded it. If you’re on the fence about attending, do so! Especially if it’s your first time, Maker Faire provides an experience like no other. You don’t have to be some extremely technical hacker or be able to program a CNC machine in your sleep. Maker Faire isn’t about that. It’s about bringing everyone who enjoys “things” together, whatever those things may be. Whether you machine parts, work on cars, make music, knit, sew – any creative activity you can think of – you will find it at Maker Faire.