It’s almost the National Week of Making, so it seems like a good time to finally post a recap of the Chicago Northside Maker Faire. The Southside Faire is coming on up August 6, so save the date! By the way they’re currently looking for Makers to join in the fun.
Locals, be sure to keep you eye out for cool #ChicagoMakes programs in honor or the National Week. Speaking of which, I have a sweet deal on a great littleBits class for you. It will take place this Saturday, 6/18, in Chicago. Click for deets.
Aaaaand one more thing, HEBOCON, a robot competition for the technically ungifted, will take place the evening of 6/18. It’s an adult event, but kids are welcome. The best lousy robot to win the competition will win cash prizes.
I’ll be at both events and would love to see you IRL!
Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire
It was a fun day all around. Kudos to Christina Pei and the team at Schurz High School for another fantastic Faire. Given recent unexpected budget cuts, this group had to work extra hard to make this event happen. It should be noted that, although a donation is requested for admission, it’s not required. This team walks the talk when it comes to making STEM and STEAM available to all.
Pressed for time, I didn’t exhibit this year, but, hooray, that meant I got to spend my brief allotted time visiting the makers.
The most heart-warming moment of my day took place at the Bee Z Crafters table. Maker Romi Puente had out her signature bee crafting kits, but also allowed kids to sew and embellish other felt-based items. There was a boy who looked to be middle or early high school age, maybe 12-15 years-old, who was working on a small heart pillow for his mother. Mother’s Day followed soon after the Faire. He had the typical tough guy mug of a boy his age, and yet, he was so thoughtfully making a colorful blingy heart pillow for his mom. It was the sweetest thing.
I wanted to share a few new-to-me organizations, as well as groups that I simply haven’t mentioned on this blog before. In no particular order let me introduce….
There’s not much info on their site, but if you look on Facebook or in Chicago drone racing meet-ups groups, you’ll find more details. They are not kidding about the racing part, these guys (and yes, all men, when I met them), zoom their drones around the field. The racers wear headsets on which they get a first-person view from their drone. They said their events are family friendly and that they usually have screens set up so viewers can watch the live first-person (first-drone?) streams on a monitor. I’d say you have to be a skilled flyer to participate in the races. It’s pretty exciting stuff. Why aren’t more women doing this?
littleBits master Pete Hill showed off some of his cool creations. He’s got classes coming up on June 18 and 25 where kids and adults can learn how to make their own crazy electronic creations. And I’ve got a discount for you! Click for details.
If your local Freecycle group had a physical home, this would be it. WasteShed collects reusable art, school, and office supplies that would otherwise wind up in a landfill. Instead, these items fill the shelves of their shop enabling teachers, artists, and other makers to buy useful supplies at super low costs. They’re located at 914 N. California in Humboldt Park. Fearing I will go on an unnecessary shopping binge, I have not yet visited the space. When they fill up on donations, they put a halt to accepting them, but I think the nonprofit is always accepting volunteers to help run the shop.
Not to be confused with the littleBits electronic bits, The Little Bits workshop is a delightfully low-tech makerspace in River Forest. They serve people of all ages and abilities who want to learn traditional crafts such as: sewing, knitting, crochet, paper arts, bookbinding, printmaking, and more. They also host parties and put out an adorable low-tech kits, which are like old-skool versions of Roominate (affiliate link). Founder Lilita Forsyth is very passionate about the work they do.
If you own any Dyson products or have seen the company’s ads, you know they take innovation, engineering, and design seriously. They also place a priority on engaging young people to learn about these same topics. The Foundation provides Engineering Boxes and Ideas Boxes for classroom and after school clubs. Although based in Chicago and place a priority of serving teachers and students in Illinois, they will ship kits all over the country. That said, supplies are limited, but they have online resources as well. Check it out.
In 2010 I was invited to Dyson’s Chicago office for a hands-on workshop with other area bloggers. They challenged our group to brainstorm a product idea and develop a prototype. It was a good mental workout.
Also, they set me one of these afterward. Look at the Young Maker Teen when he was actually young. The fan still works well. In fact, it kept me cool during Saturday’s heat wave.
They provide a variety of STEAM workshops around Chicago. I usually share their workshops on STEM Kids Chicago.
Chicago Pubic Library
CPL was there promoting, among other things, their YouMedia program for teens. Teens can hang out and geek out while creating music, video, 2D and 3D designs, as well as podcasts with the help of experienced mentors. A dozen CPL branches feature YouMedia options. They also spread the news of their teen guide to Chicago, Find Your Way. And though I don’t have a handout on it, I’m sure they must have promoted their Maker Lab.
Code repository GitHub was there with lots of really cute stickers. GitHub provides tools that make is easy to collaborate and share code.
This one is not from the Maker Faire, it does feature Chicago maker-entrepreneurs and I’ve been meaning to post something about them:
They provide themed gift boxes filled with goodies made from Chicago makers and artisans. There’s some fun stuff and it’s a new local business, so check them out.