The opportunity to see invention and creativity at its finest awaits at the sixth annual RI Mini Maker Faire Festival. Rhode Island’s innovators will come together to showcase their creations for the public on Saturday, October 11 in Providence, and the event will feature everything from robots to custom pinball machines. It’s a DIY science fair billed by the organization’s website as “The greatest show and tell on earth.”
The whole movement began with Make Magazine, a bi-monthly publication out of California that began in 2005. The first Maker Faire festival occurred in Silicon Valley in 2006. In the ensuing years, the movement has spread around the county, and the festivals have even popped up in places like Rome, Tokyo and Santiago. According to the founders, “Maker Faire is an all-ages gathering of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students and commercial exhibitors.”
The first festival in Rhode Island started with Kipp Bradford and Brian Jepson, who were both involved in the national Maker Faire movement. Jepson works for Maker Media and Bradford serves as an advisor and is a maker in his own right. They saw the Bay-Area maker events and wanted something similar for the Ocean State, so they started RevolutionxDesign, a non-profit with the express purpose of putting on the Maker Faire event. The first festival took place in 2009.
For the past few years, Maker Faire has been presented as a small part of AS220’s block parties, and in 2011 as part of Waterfire. But increased interest from the community and the creators’ desire to grow made expansion a possibility. “We’ve been wanting the Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire to be its own event since the beginning,” says Jepson. The event is still sponsored by AS220, but this year it will take center stage.
The most notable thing about this year’s festival as compared to past years is the size; there will be more makers than ever before, and the festival will take up far more space. It will have three main locations: in front of Hasbro’s downtown building (across from the Dunkin’ Donuts Center), along Adrian Hall Way (between Fountain and Washington) and at AS220’s 115 Empire space.
The offerings will include a showcase of Hasbro’s new Play-Doh creations, products from the Providence 3D printing community, and a coin-flipping machine (with manhole-sized coins!). But this list barely even scratches the surface, and the only way to see everything the mad geniuses from RI have produced is to show up on Saturday.
Champions of the entrepreneurial spirit young and old should not even think about missing this event. Even if you’ve been before, this year is sure to have something new in store. It may even inspire you to become the next great maker!
The Rhode Island Mini Maker Faire will take place in Downtown Providence on Saturday, October 11 from 11am – 6pm.