Bay Area Maker Faire 2017

Last weekend was the 12th annual Bay Area Maker Faire, a weekend full of all things making and tinkering. We set up a 10 x 10 booth in the middle of it all where faire-goers could experiment with turning on toy mechanisms, try their hand at circuit bending and get inspired by a wall full of taxidermy furbies. 

We've been using these pop-up tinkering workshops as a way to experiment with environment, activity design and facilitation, so I thought I'd share a few of the things that we learned in each of those areas. 

At maker faire we continued our experiments turning our pop-up tent into a comfortable and inspiring space for tinkering. For a quick way to do both, we framed out the back and sides of the tent and clamped together some temporary walls. 

We arranged the taxidermy furby heads to give a sense of possibilities with some more complicated toy parts. With the addition of the rotary dial, this installation spoke to some of the high ceilings of these dissected mechanical toys. 


For the activity for the first day of the faire we returned to experiments with circuit boards with toy parts. A couple of next parts since last time included DAGU motor generators and some new fun stuffed switches. 

On sunday we tried a circuit bending block activity for the first time with kids and adults. We built a set of parts that included salvaged PCBs, speakers, LEDs, potentiometers, and connectors to amplified speakers. 

It was a little bit more complicated to get started than tradtional circuit boards, but there seems to be a lot of potential. There was a lot of joy for younger kids when they simply connected a speaker to the connection points and added lights to the circuit. Later in the afternoon we had a group of teens who really got into the experiments. 

Facilitating these activities can be tricky, but luckily Sarah and Christa had experimented with us earlier in april and were able to help out in the booth. Sarah even brought her own homemade example board to give people a sense of what's possible. 

Additonally Andrea, Lea, and Suresh were able to take turns working with faire goers in the booth. It's really important for us to work together as facilitators and learn from each other. 


once again maker faire was a great chance to reconnect with old friends and get inspired by new artists and tinkerers. IT was super fun for us to set up a booth for wonderful ideas and we're already counting down the days until next year's faire!