An invitation to Makers

Last year we held the first “Mini Maker Faire” in the Valley.

Hardly anyone knew what a Maker Faire was exactly, maybe one or two people had been to one and a few more had read about them online, but by and large it was a new experience for all of us.

The event was a great success, and during it we worked out what a Maker Faire was all about. As a Maker from New York said, “It’s kind of like a state fair but with the pigs replaced with robots. You don’t come because you want to learn, you come because you want to have fun and make stuff.”

This year, we want even more makers to attend. Sure – it’s a fun day for the public who come to see what folks are making, but it’s even more fun for the exhibitors who are making things on the spot or giving demos of what they made during the year.

We’ll advertise to members of the public later, but right now we want to get the word out to the maker community, and that’s where you come in.

You probably found this page because someone gave you a business card with a link to this page on it. We have more of these cards available or you could even make some yourself from this artwork. Pass them round to friends and colleagues, and anyone you meet who has that ‘maker’ gene who would be a great person to have come to the 2014 McAllen Mini Maker Faire. If you know someone who reaches a lot of people, such a teacher who runs a shop class, give them some extras to hand out.

Here’s what we want from people, and this is basically the message we want you to pass on… (of course, spread the message in your own words! Talk to your friends about things that interest them – these are just examples…)

Show us how you make something. For instance if you make home-made jewelry, don’t come to the Faire just to sell it – you _can_ sell it but what we want you to do is set up your equipment and show people how you make it. Even better, give people a chance to make something themselves – show them how it’s done and let them make one. If your project is something that’s too complex to make on the day, then is it something that people could play with? – for example if you made a quadrocopter, would you let people fly it a little?

We have enough time this year to prepare events in advance, so if a bunch of friends are in a club such as a model car club – or maybe your school competed in a robotics event at Hestec and you still have the robots – then get your friends together and suggest a model car race, or a fighting robot competition… we’ll help with the organization and we might even be able to rustle up some prizes. (Even if the prizes are just buttons – we have a button press, and we plan to hand out a lot of buttons at the Faire for participating in various events)

If you’re enthusiastic about what you want to show everyone, we’ll find a place for you. Don’t worry that you need to set up any kind of display, or stand up and give a talk – you’ll find that if you just put the thing you made on a table, pretty soon people will come up to you and ask you what it’s about, and then you’re just chatting with someone who is interested in the thing you’re interested in – and it’s really easy to talk with people about stuff you’re interested in.

One last comment – for some reason, we found that the messier the project, the more fun it was, especially for the younger kids. Don’t be shy of projects with paint or clay or water or gloopy stuff of any description. We’ll find a way to give you a safe environment to play in.