I’ve been taking Miles to Maker Faire every year since it launched in 2006, making this our 8th. It’s different every year – sometimes better, sometimes worse. No question it’s become more popular (for better and for worse) and less dangerous over time. With every passing year, there are fewer exhibits that can take your head off, singe your eyebrows, or help you lose a limb. And there’s an increasing emphasis on crafty stuff, things you can do with kids, etc. The maker movement has become more mainstream, less Burning Man, and more accessible. But there’s still no better place to experience such an awesome array of things to do with your kids, concentrated in one place. Despite the crowds and the impossible traffic, we still consider it worth going.
A few highlights from this year’s event:
- Giant vat of the stuff they fill disposable diapers with. Neither wet nor dry, it feels surreal and rubbery to the touch. Amazing in large quantities.
- The usual amazing Tesla Coil demonstration
- Guy playing a homemade didgeridoo/drum kit rig
- Cupcake cars driving around
- Biggest bin of iron filings and rare earth magnets I’ve ever seen
- Immense arrays of bubbles being dispensed from long loop/string invention
- Giant replica of Milton Bradley’s original Mousetrap game, including 400-lb steel bathtub and real bowling balls.
- Adam Savage in person!
- Miles got to make a bizarre vuvuzela-type noisemaker
- Bike-like vehicle driven by the motion of the rider pumping up and down rather than pedaling
- Solar powered cars
- Mind-blowing 3D printer creations
- Hands-on metal stamping with 1-lb brass hammer
- Pedal-powered llama-shaped cars with articulated head
- The usual assortment of crazy bicycle-like inventions
- Entire city made of tightly wrapped masking tape (hard to describe, but incredible)
- Make your own steampunk goggles booth (for kids)
- Biggest paella cooking trays you’ve ever seen
- Blue Man Group-style PVC acoustic marimba
- Stilt walkers everywhere
… and we didn’t even get to see 50% percent of it.