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Be a Maker

Coming soon to a convention center near you… (if you live near the Bay Area)…

For the last couple of years, we have made the Maker Faire a destination of choice for our family. This year it’s happening May 30 and 31, so I thought I’d give it a plug and explain why.

First of all, what they call a Maker is what is commonly known as a do-it-yourselfer, and known around our house as just plain “us”. This fair is all about doing cool stuff. Sometimes the cool stuff has a purpose, like something you can wear, ride on, or possibly eat. Sometimes its purpose is just to entertain. Sometimes its purpose is… well… rather more obscure. There is little chance that you’ll be bored at the Maker Faire, and a pretty big chance that you and your kids will leave with some choice memories.

Some highlights for us:

Our daughter never tires of the fire-throwing fire engine. The rest of us can do without it, but it just drives her wild to see that thing spurt out a ball of flame instead of water. Get it? It’s a FIRE engine.

We all love the Tesla Coil (read about that here). As soon as you get there, you have to go find it and find out what its schedule is. It only goes off every so often. And if you have a pacemaker, keep your distance.

Both of our kids played really cool electronic guitars last year. There’s always a fair amount of music-related stuff, from electronic to old-fashioned.

A great highlight for my kids is a room that kids actually need their parents to sign a release form for! The room is filled with cast-off “junk” from local companies, from keyboard keys to paper clips to chips and boards. The tables are stocked with hot glue guns (thus the release form). The kids (and the big kids) go around the room, collect an intriguing pile of “junk,” and then construct! I still have the box I made last year, with a plastic baby-doll leg as a handle to lift the cover off. Totally fun.

The other great thing about the Maker Faire is that I can’t tell you what else you’ll experience there. It will certainly be fun. Last year there was a coordinated display of Mentos in Diet Coke that was something akin to synchronized swimming.

There is a downside: It used to be cheap, and is no more. However, one of the resourceful homeschoolers I told about it noticed that you only need to get ten people to get the 50% off group rate. So go for it! Find some friends, bring a picnic (and a little cash for ice cream), and spend the day with other people who like to do weird stuff.

And unless you want to incur some bruises on your credit card, stay out of the Maker Store. That’s where the real damage can be done!

Posted in Parenting.

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