I will be the first to admit that I am a self-professed tinker. There I said it out loud; confession is good for the soul. Growing up without cell phones or video games, I could often be found outside doing one of my favorite things: taking something apart. The destruction of retired TVs, radios, blenders, motors, farm equipment, and general mechanical parts was a significant part of my childhood. It is that curiosity of the unknown and the drive to understand how things work that has served me well as a physics teacher all these many years.
This is why I am thrilled with the current ground swelling of the Maker Movement in the past decade. Instead of texting and playing video games, makers of all ages are forming a crossroads where science, art, and innovation all seem to interact with each other. The original Maker’s Faire started in 2006 in San Mateo and has been an annual event in May since its inception. Last year over 100,000 people attended that Maker’s Faire, and its success has produced faire events all over the globe. On April 12, 2014 Fresno held its own first annual Mini-Maker’s Faire at the Fresno Art Museum and the adjacent Radio Park. Over 100 groups participated in this event representing amazing craftsmanship, science demonstrations, and innovative designs. It was truly a landmark event for Fresno.
If you missed the Mini-Maker’s Faire on April 12th, do not despair: the month of April has been declared “Maker Month” by the city of Fresno, and there will be Maker competitions including Nerdy Derby, cardboard Rube-Goldberg, and Lego Robotics held at Chukchansi Park on Sunday, April 27th during the baseball game. As an added bonus, if you build a car for the Nerdy Derby track a child can get in free with a paid adult admission.
This Maker Movement is important for the future of STEM education in the United States, and can be a powerful motivator for our students in the classroom. I hope to see many more Mini-Maker’s Faires in Fresno in the years to come. In my next post I will talk specifically about the upcoming Maker’s Faire on May 17-18, 2014 in San Mateo.