Last weekend, my family and I attended the 2nd Philadelphia Min Maker Faire at the Pennovation Center on Sunday, October 6. This was our second maker event of the fall, as we spread our wings and explore a wider variety of faires in the absence of World Maker Faire NYC this year. (You may enjoy my post about the Buffalo Mini Maker Faire as well.)
We went down to Philly the night before and stayed about half an hour outside of the city. While my husband and the girls enjoyed the hotel indoor pool and made a simple dinner in the room, I met up with girlfriends for dinner at El Vez. With quirky, cool decor, private booths, and amazing food and drinks to was the perfect place to catch up and have a girl’s night out.
The next morning we packed up and headed over to the Pennovation Center. There were lots of volunteers with bright blue shirts on hand directing traffic, helping makers find their booths, and organizing the chaos. Soon we were ready for attendees.
We brought our color-changing screen printing again, and it was a hit. It was especially fun to chat with other educators about screen printing in their classes. Some had never tried digitally cut vinyl rather than traditional emulsion masks and were excited for all the ways it makes screen printing easier and more flexible. After all, even if you don’t have a digital cutter, students can easily hand-cut vinyl stencils. Also, an art teacher who stopped by was really excited about using color-changing pigments with his class. Can’t wait to see what they make!
In addition, we brought a variety of projects from The Big Book of Maker Camp Projects. The NeoTrellis Nature Sounds Board, the Circuit Playground “campfire” and friendship bracelets, the Maker Makey Robot Drummer programmed in Scratch, some micro:bit name badges, light-up LED items, 3D printed cookie cutters and much more. Spiderbot made his first Maker Faire appearance with his holiday friends, and people loved that simple bristlebot project.
However, the most popular project had to be Smack a S’more. These little guys are easy to make with a sock, some stuffing and cardboard, but the fun bit is the coding. Using a radio signal, the micro:bits on top of the s’mores communicate, sending signals to each other to change from a happy face to marshmallow. You have to whack the s’amore before the marshmallow burns or you’re out of the game. It was a hit! (Pun intended.)
I didn’t have much time to leave the booth, but my girls got the opportunity to explore. One of their favorite booths was Botanical Jewelry, where participants made creations out of organic plant matter. My youngest loved the Dewey Mac Maker Mysteries, based on a book by a local teacher, and Shapes the Game, a 3D printable dexterity challenge. My eldest liked the festive 3D printed hexapod robots at the Vorpal table.
There were lots of other great exhibits including a giant Operations game, lots of Star Wars Droids, a whole booth of Lego creations, 3D printed chocolate, several dinosaur robots, lots of live music, beautiful furniture, fun puppets, 3D printed mycelium lights, and much, much more. You never know what you’ll find at a Maker Faire!
While at Maker Faire I did take a bit of time to talk about my favorite thing, Maker Camp! I gave a short talk entitled “Keep It Campy” about the importance of summer and after school maker programs that allow kids to play, experiment and get a little silly. I was also a part of a Maker Education panel with the amazing Meredith Martin, Mike Carroll, and Steve Pendergrast. We had a really interesting conversation about ways makered can be used to help struggling schools and students in poverty.
When I returned to the booth, I was met by a boy, around 12 or 13 years old. He used his own money to buy my book because the demonstration projects were so exciting to him that he really wanted to jump in and start building. I signed his book and gave him my card. I can’t wait to see what he makes! The best part of being at a Faire is making those kinds of connections.
All in all, it was a fantastic weekend. I can’t wait to be back next year for Philly Maker Faire.