Maker Faires. I had never heard of them until we started homeschooling. Someone mentioned makerspace in an online discussion and I went and looked it up. I can’t believe we had never heard of it because it’s just cool! Imagine a science fair spliced with a craft fair with a touch of steam punk. A maker faire is a haven for those who like to tinker, to build fascinating things that regular folks may not get, and might think a waste of time.
So we went to one this spring. The second annual DC Maker Faire in DC proper, held on a college campus and swarmed with tons of people. The kids loved it. Mr. Genius and I loved it (too many 3-D printers, go a bit lighter on those next time.) It was just plain cool. Nerdy, geeky, Engineer-style cool. And free. Did I mention free?
This was the faire that the Engineer proved that he could pick five different kinds of locks. The one where we saw the life-sized R2D2 robot. The one where they had a massive marble run that he insisted we needed to replicate at home. That kind of faire.
The Engineer was upset that he couldn’t bring his water system project to share with all the other cool projects, and he was especially irritated that the young makers were all older kids. He just didn’t think it was fair that kids his age weren’t represented.
After we went home I made a mental note to try to submit one of his projects next year. But…I didn’t have to wait that long. Because I heard about another maker faire – this one in a different area of DC, in the fall. I found the website, and I read all the details of the young maker submission form. I was disappointed.
The minimum age for submissions was 10. The Engineer is 5.
I did a mental sigh and decided not to mention submitting his project. And then I thought about it. I got irritated about it. I stewed on it. Why should they assume that younger kids can’t make anything interesting?
So grumbly mama bear went out and submitted anyway. I noted that he was five, and that we would be assisting him. I pointed out that he was disappointed at the last faire because he was too young to show his project. And I emphasized that his project had great hands-on possibilities for other kids to test out.
I guess they liked it! Last week we got the acceptance email from the Silver Springs Maker Faire.
And I went “crap!”
I wasn’t exactly prepared for this. I assumed that they would reject his submission, and that I could tell him honestly that I tried.
On September 25th, our family will be manning a 10×10 booth with a water system demonstration about water pressure. It’s a build-your-own tubing, connectors, and check valve system with a hand-pump and sprinkler. It’s cool. It’s customizable. And it’s way more work than I was expecting to do.
They provide the space. I have to come up with signage, extra materials, and handouts for faire participants. Last year they had over 15, 000 participants. Yikes!
I’ll figure it out.
I’m probably more excited than he is. He’s 5. He just might be the youngest maker attending the faire this year, if not ever. He gets a badge of his own, publicity (yay mommy, more work!) and tons of peers to talk to and interact with. I’m so proud of him!
I’m not humble bragging. I’m not humble at all. I’m unabashedly, unashamedly, unequivocally bragging about my kid. He’s going to the maker faire!