Bay Area Maker Faire 2017
The Bay Area MakerFaire is a science fair on steroids, a geek fest, a craft show, a giant show and tell, and a festival all wrapped into one! The MakerFaire is pushing boundaries while drawing people in to participate. It wows and amazes while also inspires people to go out and try new things. Held at the San Mateo County Event Center each year, it features a wondrous array of truly fascinating areas for people to visit. When I attended this past weekend with my family, I think we covered maybe a third of what was there! Even so, that third was mind-blowing.
We started off at the drone-racing tent where VR-helmeted pilots raced their drones through lighted obstacle courses. I felt as if I was watching a Quidditch match for drones the way they raced through hoops and zigzagged around effortlessly. Sometimes the drones would hit one of the course hoops and fall the ground eliciting a collective groan from the spectators.
It was then a quick trip to the tent next door featuring amazing robotics displays. The robotic band was one of my favorites but there were so many other robots including the giant moving dragon as well as a booth for bot wars. And, here was where the Giant Box Heads were located. People had a great time putting those on and magnifying their heads!
The Intel-sponsored area had many individual booths which featured many educational companies and opportunities including Arduino for the classroom, the Intel Euclid tool for robotics and a very friendly robot on hand, and Make Crate which is a monthly subscription for Arduino projects for kids.
As I mentioned, this wasn’t just a technology/gadget-driven event and thus we stopped for lunch and also had a chance to watch a vaudeville show featuring a sword swallowing maestro and burlesque entertainment. As to be expected at festivals, lots of food booths were there including the standard fare of kettle corn, corn dogs, BBQ and pretzels but lots of other more exotic fare such as the Vietnamese, African, and Indian cuisine offerings. And it was quite common to see small motorized cupcakes racing around the event venue or a rather unusual drum line weaving their way through the attendees.
After lunch we headed off to the “dark hall” where the lights were off in order to feature light displays of all sorts. There was the inflatable lighted forest, the girls walking around in LED outfits, the colored shadow displays using red, green and blue lights and the shadow boxes. Also, in the front of this hall were the intricate tape constructions.
Our last stop for the day was at a hall just chock a block full of all sorts of displays from Arduino, 3 D printers, robotics, Legos and vintage computers. The Lego displays were impressive. Some were stationary while others were mechanized.
There were many families there enjoying the event but there were also schools, clubs, Scouts and other groups in attendance. The MakerFaire is a time for people to share what they’ve been doing in terms of their hobbies, passions and interests. Many people already participate in local Maker Spaces where people get together to work on projects. In fact, the Conejo Valley Maker Space meets on Thursday evenings from 7-9 PM, currently hosted at AXICOM, if you’d like to come check it out! Adults and kids are welcome to attend.