RovingFiddlehead KidLit

Cedar Rapids Mini Maker Faire Memories

February 26, 2012

A change of pace for this Sunday’s tech for kids post. Yesterday, along with some teen boys and another mother I went to the Mini-Maker Faire in Cedar Rapids. It wasn’t the scale of the big Maker Faires in San Francisco, Detroit, Kansas City, etc. you may have seen on PBS and in other media, but it was pretty cool. It was the first in Cedar Rapids and, I think, the first in Iowa. I thought I might pick up a few ideas for library programming and I definitely did!

Mini Solar Car

The boys spent most of their time at the UNI Center for Energy and Environmental Education (CEEE) station making solar cars. CEEE travels the state doing workshops with a variety of kits and demonstrations. The solar car kits were the only kit at the fair, but they also have mini wind turbines, solar oven kits kids can put together and a bicycle generator. The kits can be borrowed or purchased. When borrowing the kits, the programs are free!

The 3D printers on display were also very popular. SeeMe CNC sells kits. The complete kit (including the software) sells for $500! It is making a spaceship in this photo.

3D printing

Folks from the Kansas City Maker Faire brought a Thing-a-Matic 3D printer (no longer available, but the new version runs about $1700) as well as a robot and a Kinnect game. The Kansas City event is June 23-24 at Union Station and sounds amazing! They think this should be the first element in any library hackerspace for kids. Seeing the Tech Club reaction to our 3D printer field trip, I can’t disagree!

Pizza Box Guitar

Epicenter, a Cedar Rapids hackerspace, along with the Science Station were the local organizers. They had a really cool display of DIY musical instruments, circuit bending (transforming electronic toys to musical instruments) and contact microphones which have a lot of potential as library programs. I especially like the idea of making pizza box or picture frame guitars. Green, music, and tech trifecta!

And there was lots, lots more. There were arts and crafts folks there as well from candlemakers to glass blowers to the Villages Folk School. One of the boys is interested in learning blacksmithing and it was pretty exciting to realize there are classes available only an hour from his house! It was interesting to see various inventors working on a variety of projects. It was an awesome event that I hope becomes annual. It would be nice to see some library involvement in future years as well. Maker Faires are a perfect opportunity to promote library DIY and tech collections as well as make people aware of our computer access, programs and meeting space (and even hackerspaces in some). I leave you with a collage of more wonders of the Faire.

Maker Faire Collage

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