The 2016 Stewart MakerFair
Every year since we started our makerspace in January 2014, we’ve held a Maker Fair during the last conference night of the year (See our 2014 MakerFair and our 2015 MakerFair). This year’s was even bigger and more awesome. We had more interactive student projects and I had more student volunteers than I knew what to do with, which is an awesome problem to have. My students pretty much ran the show and everything came together fantastically. In addition to a ton of parents, students and teachers, we also had both district library supervisors, a school board member and several media specialists and teachers from other schools visit our Makerfair. Check out the video below to get an overview of the event:
One of the goals of our MakerFair is to give our guests the opportunity to try out some of the tools in our makerspace hands-on. We setup several tables, each with a different tool, and I had students on hand to help teach our guests how to use them. For our 2016 Stewart Makerfair, we had a MaKeyMaKey setup on our projector with an assortment of fruit, veggies and other conductive materials. We had another table with Cubelets, and there were some awesome helicopters and lighthouses being built. Many students got excited about making lights and buzzers go off with our littleBits and the fan launcher was a big hit with our Snap Circuits.
Make & Takes
Another focus of our MakerFair is to let our guests make something that they can take home with them. The Perler beads were an ever popular station for this – I had the iron on most of the day. (I’m actually planning a post that focuses solely on Perler beads because they’re one of my students favorite activities). We had our potholder loom weaving set up, which is another big hit. A new addition this year was recycled book origami. One of my students came up with this idea and ran the station the whole night. We cut out pages from damaged and weed books and put them out with markers and origami instructions. Because origami is way more cool when it’s made from books 🙂
As in previous years, we welcomed Tampa Hackerspace into our library for our 2016 Stewart Makerfair. They brought a 3D printer and some other cool gadgets and talked to our guests about the programs that their space offers. I am not anywhere near an expert on 3D printing, but a lot of members of our community are interested in it, so Tampa Hackerspace really helps to bridge that gap for us.
A major part of our 2016 Stewart Makerfair involved showcasing some of the projects that my students created during the year. We ended up highlighting four of them this year, and they’re pretty awesome.
The K’nex Roller Coaster
Every year, my students love to put together our K’nex Roller Coaster kit. Yes, it is just following instructions. But they’re learning teamwork, collaboration, problem solving, etc while they build it. And they often start developing their own ideas, like the multiple variations of cars they came up with. My group that put it together was so proud of what they created, and several of them stayed throughout the event to share about how they built it.
The Maker Cave
This project will be getting it’s own post soon because there’s so much to say about it. My after-school Stewart Makers club had been working on this one for weeks. They created a giant cave in-between two of our library stacks, made mostly out of cardboard. Since it blocked access to the books, they had to take it down and reassemble it every week. It was seriously one of the coolest things my kids made this year, and there were students hanging out in it during most of the night.
The K’nex Crossbow
This project is what kicked off our Rubber Band Launcher Challenge earlier in the year (you can actually see several more photos of it there). We launched it several times during our MakerFair and guests were able to try it out as well. If you watched the video above, you’ll also get to see the accessories kit that my student built to go along with it – the base of the crossbow is modular and can attach to a scythe and trident. The whole thing has a carrying case to carry all of the parts in – made entirely out of K’nex of course 🙂
Dash vs. Sphero Obstacle Course
This was a huge hit at our MakerFair. My student created a huge, cardboard obstacle course for a game of Dash vs. Sphero. There was a whole story behind it. Apparently Sphero and Dash got into an argument, so now Sphero wants to get back at Dash by knocking Dot of his perch. But Sphero has to navigate an obstacle course first, then avoid being tagged by Dash. He has to knock down Dot and then make it back out of the obstacle course. My students got REALLY into this. We were jumping up and down, shouting and cheering for Dash and Sphero. It was way more intense than you might think it would be.
Our 2016 Stewart Makerfair was an all-around awesome event and it’s definitely something that we’ll continue to do every year.