By: Carolina Kaufman 
Featured August 25, 2015

Maker Magic Mini-Maker Faire Booth
The South Side Mini-Maker Faire Code Create booth

There’s something special about Maker Faires, not in the sense that it is a “trending” or “geeky” thing to do out there, but it seems to get at a kind of accessible communal magic to experience. The opportunity to be curious, gain inspiration and ideas from others, participate or collaborate, and just have fun results in walking away with something memorable, weather its learning about the creative spirit, about yourself, about others, or even about community in of itself.   

At the recent South Side Mini Maker Faire, I was happy to witness this kind of magic occur in multiple ways and across generations.  One example took place at our booth for CodeCreate where a young girl and her mother collaborated on building a cardboard house. When they were done, the girl was provided the opportunity to take her creation a step further. She designed a simple Scratch program and with a makey makey board enabled her house to have an interactive door and doorbell.  She delighted in the fact that what she crated from regular cardboard and aluminum foil was going to be activated in some personal way electronically. However for me the real magic occurred not just in what she designed, but rather, the way she created her piece and how she took ownership of her creation.  Above all, it was a collaborative experience shared with those closest to her being her mother and grandmother who helped build the piece and come up with ideas for computational activation.  After successfully programming her house with a sound piece for the door and doorbell that she delightfully repeated doing on her own, she decided she would record the experience of her mother and grandmother’s reaction to her interactive house. They saw it as something that to them “came to life” before their eyes and a deep sense of pride for what they did together as a family was evident.

To empower making across the generations in the most accessible and communal way possible gets at the essence of Maker faires, which is not just a “show and tell” kind of experience but more importantly celebrates community through the spirit of human creativity, expression, collaboration, and innovation.