What You’ll See at the Austin Maker Faire:
- An interactive Paint by RBG wall, which is thirty feet long and allows you to digitally paint a wall of 2,500 LEDs with actual brushes to create an illuminating work of art.
- Zen Gardener, an interactive installation where kids can drive a robot built to rake a 16×24 Zen sand garden
- Power tool drag racing
- Fashion show featuring LED wearables and Diode fashion
- a huge hands-on art/craft zone
- Arduino workshops
- Sangre Del Sol fire performers
- Ponytrap, a band featuring five robot drummers along with classical instruments and a ten foot tall drumbot.
- Robot Resurrection, the 28-foot fire-shooting human-piloted robot
- ArcAttack, a performance art group making electrifying music involving Tesla coils.
From glowing and illuminating light exhibits to elaborate art cars to a drone fly zone with drone obstacle course, the 2016 Faire will be a feast for the senses and a wonder to behold.
We had a chance to ask Kami Wilt, local mama and organizer of Maker Faire Austin, a few questions about this year’s event.
LM: Tell us a little about yourself and how you came to work with the Maker Faire.
Kami: In 2007 and 2008, the Maker Faire from the Bay area brought their Faire to Austin and I was able to attend. When I attended in ’08, I felt like I had discovered the event of my dreams. The amazing range of hands-on activities, skill sharing, spectacles, new things to see and try and do, I felt like I could stay there for days. I was so excited to go back the next year. I had so much fun that I thought when it came back in ’09 I would go on one day with my kids and then go the next day kid-free. But then the Faire never came back! Visiting the Faire that year really was a pivotal experience for me… I realized that while I’m not particularly good at any one thing, I really enjoy Making. The Maker Movement really spoke to me. I started Austin Tinkering School, which is a school that’s all about Making and building (we now have a kid-friendly Makerspace in East Austin with camps, classes and workshops for both kids and adults). In 2012 I realized that Bay Area Maker Faire was never going to come to Austin again, and it was up to us to create a Maker Faire in Austin. Although I had no event planning experience, I applied to put on a Mini Maker Faire in Austin. It was a leap of faith, and I took the leap because I felt like Austin is such a creative city full of Makers that if I could just get the ball rolling, Makers would come out of the woodwork. That’s what happened and it’s grown exponentially every year.
LM: Is the Austin market more receptive to creative events like the Maker Faire?
Kami: Austin is such a creative city, and has so many great festivals, but the great thing about Maker Faire is that it brings all different kinds of Makers together. Whether you’re interested in Technology, craft, music, or something else, there is something for everyone. And parents have as much fun as the kids. Parents aren’t just sitting around bored looking at their phones. They’re deeply engaged in learning a new skill in the Craft Lab, or getting excited about arduino or 3D printers, or riding a giant bicycle-powered puppet! There is just SO much to see and do and learn about, I guarantee you will not be bored.
LM: What benefits have you seen from kids who are hands-on in the maker movement?
Kami: It’s exciting to see at the Faire that kids start to identify as Makers, just like I did… they learn to knit or solder a blinky badge for the first time or watch a high school robotics team with a robot that they built from scratch, and you can see a little fire get lit. They are SO excited, they are really ignited by the experience. I like to think that kids who are Makers are more active participants in the world around them. They may be more likely to tackle problems and challenges with gusto… to learn, build, invent, and innovate… rather than being a passive observer.
LM: What’s your favorite part of the Maker Faire Austin?
Kami: The fun surprises and things you will see ONLY at Maker Faire… like a Stormtrooper at a farm stand petting a baby goat, or kids waving to you from the top of a hundred foot long metal fire-breathing dragon… you never know what’s around the next corner! I also absolutely love parts like our huge Craft Lab area where you can see people getting obsessed and staying there for hours because there’s so many absorbing projects to get involved in.
LM: What are you most looking forward to at this year’s event?
Kami: I am SO excited about some of our big exhibits we have brought in this year. We have Tin Spider, which is a 13 foot tall geodesic dome on massive mechanical legs inspired by Theo Jansen’s Strandebeests, and Robot Resurrection, which is a 30 foot tall robot that shoots flames out of his hands (safely, of course!) . I’m also super excited about our power tool drag racing competition, Maker Fashion show, and daily performances by Arc Attack. This is our Fifth year and this is DEFINITELY going to be our biggest, best Faire yet.
What: Maker Faire Austin
When: Saturday & Sunday, May 7 & 8, 2016
Time: 10 am – 6 pm daily
Where: Palmer Event Center, 900 Barton Springs Road, Austin
Cost: Advance ticket sales are $11 for children, $16 for adults. Tickets are available for purchase at a higher cost at the door. Weekend and single-day tickets can be purchased online.