What do giant metal dragons; kiddy-car racers, drone racing and product releases all have in common? Makerfaire, or more specifically, Makerfaire New York City, an event that occurs annually at the New York Hall of Science in late September.
Makerfaire is an event created by Make Magazine, a do-it-yourself and technology-focused magazine, to “celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself mindset.” Makerfaires' occur almost every weekend from the spring to the fall (dubbed the “Season of Making”) however; most of these are regional events, such as the Port Jeff Mini-Makerfaire that the Newfield Roverines attended in June (See NHS Roverines at Port Jeff Makerfaire 2017!). There are three flagship Makerfaires – flagship meaning large in size and participant traffic – including The Bay Area's "Mothership" Faire, Chicago and of course, New York's "World Makerfaire."
New York’s Makerfaire truly embraced the “World” aspect of its name, as the orange shirts that were given to “Traveling Makers” were ubiquitous at the event, and many of them were engineers, not marketing teams, who were trying to sell a product, creating a unique atmosphere. Over 90,000 people were traveling through Makerfaire this year, with travelers coming from forty-four states and forty-five countries. The juxtaposition of big electronics manufacturers, to small, independent makers and fabrication labs, is what makes Makerfaire true to makers, as makers have a wide range of skills, and expertise in these skills – no two makers have the same skill set.
Makerfaire is built on education as a fundamental – there are entire sections of each event dedicated to primary school, and increasing interest in STEM. Presenters have perfected the skill of scaling their product presentation to apply to all ages, ranging from ten to ninety, and all ages and abilities in between.
My favorite project this year at Makerfaire, despite the obvious choices of the R2-D2's, Metal Dragons, and modified children's cars, was a DSLR-Projector system, which took pictures of old film and captures it in high resolution to slowly rebuild old cinema. It preserved a piece of history that might otherwise be lost.
Makerfaire or the "greatest show and tell on Earth" is indeed a unique experience, and attending a Makerfaire, particularly a flagship fair, is something I cannot recommend enough, however, beware – once you attend one you will be hooked.
Authors Note: This was my first piece in a series of articles discussing the Maker Movement as well as the fundamentals of making. I would like to thank the Makerfaire NYC 2017, for giving me Press Credentials to document the event as this article, as well as the following articles, would not be possible without them. Enjoy!