Art by Makenna Whiteside, Photo by Joseph Grey
In 2012, I wrote a cover story on the brand new, eye-popping/exciting event, Mini Maker Faire. During the process, I discovered FamiLab, an incredible hackerspace/community laboratory in Longwood, where I got lost in rows of electrical equipment and machinery in a high-tech fantasyland I never knew was hiding in a nearby warehouse. I met Ian Cole, one of the founders of FamiLab, who was so impressed by the featured Maker Faire he and family/friends/co-FamiLabbers attended in San Francisco, the perpetual tinkerer found a way to hack the system so he and fellow organizers could host a smaller-scale event in Orlando, which would become our city's first Mini Maker Faire. The inaugural event was held in 2012 at the Central Florida Fairgrounds, but in 2013, Mini Maker Faire got moved to the Orlando Science Center, where the tech-minded science experiments and inventive spirit fit like a glove.
And now, there are even bigger things on the horizon for the family-friendly, yes, but never dumbed-down event. This year, it will be a featured Maker Faire, dropping the "mini" from the title and exclusively positioning Orlando alongside major cities like San Francisco, Austin, New York and Detroit, the only cities to host the Make magazine-sponsored event in years past.
This is a big deal for a variety of reasons.
Not only has the event been expanded from one day to two (September 13-14), but they will also be inviting select makers to showcase outdoors in beautiful Loch Haven Park, including the New York-launched Nerdy Derby, "a miniature car-building and racing competition inspired by the Cub Scouts’ Pinewood Derby." They estimate this year's event will attract 150 exhibits, and they have already posted a ton of profiles on approved exhibitors on Orlando Maker Faire's site. I'm excited to see Take It Apart - a website that posts photo tutorials on how to disassemble your favorite gadgets - will be hanging out in Orlando to help you tear things apart or recycle your electronics.
What's an even bigger deal, for the most imaginative Orlandoans, is that they're still registering makers, so if you have something cooking in your home laboratory, why not come to the front of the class for show and tell? You have until July 9 to apply here.
Orlando Science Center president and CEO JoAnn Newman sums up why this is so cool in a press release: “This event represents everything [Orlando Science Center] does best, which is engage the community about science in a hands-on, passionate and innovative way.”
Get ready for robots, explosions and all the other mechanisms that make science-lovers' hearts tick.