Thursday, 03 September 2015 08:36

Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire Turns Two

Written by  Steven Depolo
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Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire COURTESY PHOTO

Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire
Grand Rapids Public Museum, Grand Rapids
Sept. 5-6
Saturday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
Sunday: Noon-5 p.m.
One-day Pass: adults $8, children $3, seniors $7
Two-Day Pass: adults $14, children $5, seniors $12, (616) 929-1700

Computer technology and the Internet gives creative minds the confidence and knowledge to affordably build, break, smash, tinker and tailor the world around us.

We’re able to create something new, then post the tutorial to inspire others. Make it and they will come – and the Grand Rapids Mini Maker Faire is the perfect meeting spot for go-getting, DIY originators.

Inspired by Make Magazine, which hosts massive Maker Faires in California and New York among other global locations, the two-day Grand Rapids event continues the theme of bringing together those engaged in the “maker culture.” The range of crafty attendees is vast: tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers to hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists and students to celebrate invention, creativity and resourcefulness.

You won’t sit through a fussy drawing/art class – you’ll make your own crayons and paper and then 3D print a robot that refuses to draw inside the lines.

The Maker Faire combines the traditional science fair ethos with the excitement of innovation and respect for engineering to create something entirely new. The eclectic, family-friendly celebration features rockets and robots, DIY science and technology, urban farming and sustainability, alternative energy, bicycles, unique hand-made crafts, local food and educational installations.

“All of the makers come to Maker Faire to show what they have made and to share what they have learned,” said Kate Moore, vice president of marketing and PR at the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

The Maker Faire is once again based at the Public Museum, but it’s grown. This year will see the addition of the museum’s high-tech neighbors at Kennedy Hall of Engineering and Keller Engineering Labs on Grand Valley’s Grand Rapids Campus, transforming Front Avenue into “Maker Mile” for the event.

“This collaboration now allows us to expand the square footage of the faire, allowing for more makers to demonstrate and for more exciting things for our guests to see and do when they visit this September,” said Dale Robertson, president and CEO for the Grand Rapids Public Museum.

Grand Valley is a natural partner for the Maker Faire. “The engineering programs at GVSU integrate a great deal of hands on laboratory experience, product and process design, as well as the building of these new designs,” said Dean Paul D. Plotkowski of the university’s Padnos College of Engineering & Computing. “Involvement with the maker movement and the Maker Faire are a natural fit for us.”

The Geek Group, a Grand Rapids-based non-profit organization dedicated to scientific and technological research and education, will have a major presence at the Maker Faire.

“We are happy to participate in the event once more,” said Geek Group ED Lis Bokt. “It is a great event that celebrates the innovation and creativity that is occurring in West Michigan.” Several Geek Group members will exhibit their products, including Fathom, an underwater drone and the Patternspace online 3D design marketplace.

The group’s Wisemaker Creative Reuse Art Studio will also host a Sustainability Parade using repurposed materials. The studio hosts high-voltage demonstrations throughout the day on Saturday.

Other major participants include heavy hitters like GRMakers, Grand Rapids Community College and IC3D Printing, which is providing free spools of filaments to the first 15 makers using 3D printers for demonstrations. Look for the “Pony Ride,” a fully-active mechanical horse by Theo Jansen, which was featured in ArtPrize. Kentwood’s first robotics team, Code Red Robotics, will be on hand – as will Hypnocube. Another participator is ReTech, a maker of fine art using discarded machinery.

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