MakerFaire Wellington and why we need more MakerFaire’s

Sunday 4 November 2018 was officially the first MakerFaire in Wellington. Since I have a subscription with the Make Magazine for a few years now,  I have always been keen to visit one of the bigger MakerFaire’s (NY or SanFran). The MakerFaire, I believe, is where you get to network best with the inventor. You meet interesting people; people who design amazing stuff in their garages while having a full time desk job as well as professionals who do this  for a living. The News coverage covers some aspects of the maker event. As the event gets bigger, we will hopefully have a wider range of makers. 

As part of Outreach, we decided to run a Robot fighting event called Robowars:Code to fight. Unfortunately due to the sheer volume of people expected, we couldn’t teach coding as part of the activity but decided to go for simple controls for the robots which will interest everyone coming. We had Vex IQ robots with a flipper functionality (made by Parvesh), Lego NXT2.0 kits controlled by a Scratch plugin (made for an assessment task by Sanjay), Custom made Arduino robots at University (Courtesty Jason and Arthur) with XBee shields so the robots could be controlled over ‘WASD’ keys, a few ESP32 robots made by the amazing Jack Penman from Paraparaumu College and a free play lego ‘design and build your own battle’ bot area.

We had over 600 visitors to our session and a lot of curious children/parents who wanted to know more about how to code them and starting something similar at their local schools. It was good to share that knowledge with a wider group.

As this event gives opportunities for a very good interaction between Makers and community, I can see the potential for school students to get into ‘making’ which is not usually a part of their regular assessments at school. Students will also learn from makers other than their teachers who are technically proficient in an area of expertise. This could also be a way to build the ‘maker spirit’ in young adults who might be disengaged in education.