In June 2011, Kansas City will be the fourth city in the nation to host the exciting event called "Maker Faire" at Union Station and Science City. Maker Faire is a two-day, family-friendly event that attracts thousands of people to celebrate the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement. This broad-based community encompasses scientists, engineers, students, welders, software developers, hackers, circuit benders, musicians and crafters of all stripes: individuals and communities of people drawn together by a common delight in the magic of tinkering, hacking, creating and reusing materials and technology.
Maker Faires, currently in their fifth year, began in the Bay Area at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. In 2010, the two-day San Mateo Faire attracted more than 80,000 people and featured 1,000 makers. In 2010, two new venues were added to the Maker Faire roster with events held at The Henry Ford Museum in Detroit and at the New York Hall of Science (NYSCI) in New York City. In New York, the event was dubbed World Maker Faire, in recognition of the diversity of Makers and audience who participated. A dazzling array of 530 Maker projects, with teams totaling 1,500 Makers descended on NYSCI. Both cities had more than 25,000 visitors attend the Maker Faires.
Kansas City is the next city to be added to the roster of the emerging Maker Faire movement, and we are thrilled that Union Station's Science City will host this major event on June 24-26, 2011. Organizing a Maker Faire will involve many organizations and community partners, so we are writing to invite you to attend a informational overview meeting on Monday, January 31, 2011 at 5:30 p.m. at Union Station. We will meet with Dale Dougherty, founder of the Maker Faire festivals, to hear how Kansas City can best gear up for this event. We anticipate the event will draw thousands of people to Union Station that weekend, and thought that your organization would want to be involved in Kansas City's Maker Faire. Below you will find a little more background information about Maker Faire and the community connections that are often forged as a result of these events.
Maker Faire is a two-day, family-friendly event that celebrates the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) movement. For Makers, and those who are learning from this movement, the process is as important as the product, and experimentation and participation are the principal motivators. This broad-based community encompasses scientists, engineers, students, welders, software developers, hackers, circuit benders, musicians and crafters of all stripes: individuals and communities of people drawn together by a common delight in the magic of tinkering, hacking, creating and reusing materials and technology. With an international reach and a deliberately local feel, Maker Faires celebrate the best of human imagination and creativity, where Makers share their process and product, including arts, crafts, electronics, artisanal and traditional foods, urban farming, woodworking and music.
The Maker community has evolved into a growing movement of individuals who, in the words of Dale Dougherty, general manager of the Maker Media division of O'Reilly Media and founder of the Maker Faire festivals, "look at things a little differently and who just might spark the next generation of scientists, engineers and Makers." Through Maker Faires, these individuals have organized into thriving communities to create things that are personally motivating and socially engaging. Maker spaces are springing up in cities large and small throughout the country in which people can drop in and learn from other community members about using 21st century tools such as computer-controlled table saws, laser cutters, and 3-D printers to prototype and fabricate physical products. Similarly, informal hacker groups are collaborating to create innovative software and interactive devices, many of which are freely shared through open source license agreements.
Thomas Kalil, deputy director of the White House's Office of Science and Technology Policy, explains that the Maker Movement really "begins with the Makers themselves - those who find making, tinkering, inventing, problem-solving, discovering and sharing intrinsically rewarding." Maker Faire attendees of all ages explore a multitude of activities, such as learning how to pick a lock, learning how to solder, taking a ride on a rocket-propelled "jet pony," screen printing a T-shirt, learning how to design a window hydroponics garden, and marveling at a large scale kinetic sculpture inspired by the classic board game Mouse Trap.
According to Dale Dougherty, once you are a part of Maker Faire things begin to happen. Maker Faire sparks ideas for others to organize. It is a place to make community connections and bring together eclectic groups of people who may be living in the same community and working on synergistic activities, but are not aware that others exist. Once you are at Maker Faire, no explanation is needed for why these different people are all there. Makers have the ability to deconstruct and reconstruct things in tangible ways, from Diet Coke and Mentos sprinklers, to mathematical Making through command lines of code (i.e., coding as performance art). Maker Faire is not just for kids, but also for families who are looking for entry points for themselves and their children into areas that are ordinarily out of reach. Maker Faire also advances students' interest in STEM topics by engaging young people in science, technology, engineering and mathematics projects.