What to Look Out For at Maker Faire and National Week of Making

Maker and DIY Movement

What to Look Out For at Maker Faire and National Week of Making

By Blake Montgomery     May 20, 2016

What to Look Out For at Maker Faire and National Week of Making

This article is part of the guide: What's Next for Maker Education.

Maker Faire Bay Area, the biggest Maker Faire in the country, is upon us! Teachers, students, companies and enthusiastic creators will descend on San Mateo, CA this weekend for the world’s biggest showcase of ingenuity and weirdness.

It’s not all flash and flaming octopi, though. There’s some learning to be shared amongst the gadgetry and abundant opportunities to incorporate new tools and making activities into classrooms and playtime. We’ve compiled a few of the events and booths we think will offer the best edtech creations in town. Most are short, so you and your eager makers can get back to the 3D-printed fashion.

Young Makers

When: Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Where: Zone 8, Sequoia)

“The Young Makers program brings together a community of young people with mentors and a space to make. In small clubs, participants work together to design and make a youth-chosen, open-ended project which they showcase at Maker Faire!” We couldn’t have said it better ourselves.

The State of Arduino

Saturday, 12:30-12:55 (Zone 7, Center)

Arduino is the basis for a whole subculture of hardware making, so hearing from founder Massimo Banzi is an opportunity for seasoned and newly minted makers alike. He’ll talk about trends and developments in the technology of his open-source microcontroller and where it’s headed next.

Maker: Spring Hill Academy of Petaluma Bronze Globe

Saturday and Sunday (Zone 10, Make: Activities)

Students ages 7-11 from Spring Hill Academy built a bronze globe that they’ll be showcasing as part of their curriculum. Stop by to learn how an 8-year-old used a plasma cutter to outline Australia.

Seeing & Supporting Makers @ MIT: The View from Admissions

Saturday, 1:30-1:55 (Zone 7, Center)

Every teacher who wants to build a makerspace or introduce maker activities into the classroom must answer the question of accountability: How do we demonstrate that making is worthwhile?

On the flip side, how do admissions officers understand making? Parents are worried about the amount of time their young makers spend on projects that few will ever see. Admissions officers don’t know how to evaluate a project’s merit. Chris Peterson, Assistant Director at MIT Admissions, will talk about how he sees makers applying to MIT, answer questions about how they can create attractive college applications and advise other admissions officers on understanding the makers in their applicant pools.


Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Zone 8, Sequoia)

If Bill Nye got a hold of the Sunday funnies, you’d have Howtoons. These popular educational comics give detailed guides for building things like marshmallow launchers. If you stop by their table and read the comics, you’ll likely start seeing Howtoons creations throughout the Faire.

U.S. Department of Energy: Think. Make. Innovate.

Saturday, 3:15-4:00 (Zone 7, Center)

Making can be a lifelong activity, especially if students have role models they can grow into. Enter scientists from the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Labs, who make nuclear weapons technology, among other things. Charlie Russomanno, Senior Technology Advisor for the Energy Department’s Office of Technology Transitions, will moderate.

Raspberry Pi: From Zero to Orbit

Sunday, 1:45-2:00 (Zone 7, Center)

Like the Arduino, Raspberry Pi is a microcontroller that launched a thousand Makers. The company has come out with new hardware and programming ideas in the past year, which Product Evangelist Matt Richardson will detail. If you’re searching for additions to your project list, this is the place to do it.

Cal Poly Underwater Robotics

Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Zone 4, West Green: Grass I)

The Cal Poly Robotics Club has created an Underwater Remote Operated Vehicle that will undertake its very own mission at Maker Faire. The team aims to demonstrate how both underwater research and robotics competitions work with the display.

CalSol: UC Berkeley’s Solar Vehicle Team

Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Zone 5, West Lot: Auto Row)

For the young mechanic maker who’s thinking beyond diesel and unleaded gasoline, the UC Berkeley Solar Car Team will explain the inner workings of their finished product that they send on long races.


Friday, Saturday and Sunday (Zone 10, Make: Activities)

Once you’ve seen a hundred activities you want to bring into the classroom or playtime, head to LearningTech.org’s booth to learn how to implement them. The nonprofit works with schools to integrate technology and Maker activities into curricula.

If you can’t make it, people will be sharing their creations and observations with #makerfaire all weekend. Many of them have already started!

A map of Maker Faire Bay Area

What to Expect from National Week of Making

President Obama has declared June 17-23, 2016 the second National Week of Making, so if you’re not going to Maker Faire Bay Area or New York, you can still attend a national event or create your own. The federal government invites libraries, museums, recreation centers, schools, universities and other community spaces to host events. President Obama has announced that this year’s theme is the celebration of makers “big and small, young and old, urban and rural,” as the White House says on its website.

National Week of Making also coincides with the third annual National Maker Faire on June 18 and 19 in Washington, D.C., where federal departments will present their creations alongside the nation’s makers. Applications are open until May 27 to exhibit at National Maker Faire. You can perform, display your creation or present on a topic at the Faire. Among a whole range of things, the White House is looking for student work, textile arts and crafts, 3D printing, electric vehicles, biology and chemistry project and “Puppets, kites and other whimsical creations.” Even if you’re not presenting, you can still volunteer.

To get an idea of what to expect at National Maker Faire, watch the White House’s video of National Week of Making 2015:

Even before National Week of Making starts, people have been sharing their pictures and project with #nationofmakers on Twitter.

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