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Tips for Visiting Maker Faire and 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire Highlights

Highlights of the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire Highlights and tips for visiting Maker Faire.

Highlights of the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire Highlights and Tips for visiting Maker Faire.

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Have you ever been to Maker Faire? The kids and I enjoyed visiting the Bay Area Maker Faire on Friday. We were very fortunate to have media passes to the event. Thank you, Maker Faire! I’m sharing some highlights of our day at Maker Faire later in this post.

Did you know that there are Maker Faires held all over the world, all year round? We definitely recommend that you visit one, if you get the chance! You can get an idea of what to expect by reading these posts:

Of course, my personal highlights represent a tiny fraction of what you will find at a Maker Faire! Photos and descriptions also don’t begin to capture the atmosphere of excitement and possibility that you find at Maker Faire. If you are looking to inspire your child to learn and create, Maker Faire is the place to take them!

First, let me share my tips:

Tips for Visiting Maker Faire

#1 Expect Crowds

The Bay Area Maker Faire has been packed every time I have visited. I recommend using Lyft, public transportation, or parking at one of the lots where you can catch a shuttle to the actual faire. If you are getting dropped off at the Faire, you may want to check their live traffic updates to decide how close you want to get to the Faire before you get dropped off. If you live close enough to bike to Maker Faire, they do offer free valet bicycle parking. I recommend reading the Getting to Maker Faire page before your visit.

#2 Wear Comfortable Shoes

You are going to be walking, walking, and walking some more. In between walking, you will likely be standing most of the time. Strollers are allowed.

#3 Plan Your Visit

I have never even come close to seeing everything at Maker Faire! I recommend looking at the schedule and planning your visit ahead of time so that you know what you absolutely want to be sure to see. There is live video coverage of the events, so you can see some things even if you can’t make it to Maker Faire in person. Make Magazine has highlighted 25 awesome things for kids to see at Maker Faire this year.

#4 Read the FAQs

The Maker Faire site has a great Frequently Asked Questions section that is worth reading through before your visit!

Highlights of the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire Highlights and Tips for visiting Maker Faire.

Highlights of the the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire!

Maker Faire is called “The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth” with good reason! There is something at Maker Faire for EVERYONE! Here are some things my kids and I loved discovering during the three and a half hours we were there on Friday. We only made it through three of the ten zones, so all of these highlights are found in zones 1, 2, or 3.

These blocks were my kids' favorite thing at #makerfaire this year, The creator is generously sharing instructions on how to make your own with my readers. Click through for the downloadable PDF file with instructions for this cool DIY toy!
Make Your Own Interlocking Blocks

My kids would have happily spent the entire afternoon playing with these DIY interlocking blocks invented by Bill Atkinson. They are brilliantly simple to make, and I am now on the hunt for a table saw and mitre saw so that we can make our own set. Bill used medium density fiberboard – it’s easy to work with, the thickness is very consistent (important for interlocking toy blocks), and you don’t have to sand anything! I knew you guys would love them, and I am thrilled to say Bill Atkinson graciously offered instructions on how to make your own interlocking toy blocks as a PDF download here on my blog. If you make a set, please let us know! Click on the image below to download the PDF, and visit this post to learn more about these DIY interlocking blocks.

Tutorial for making your own interlocking blocks. This design is brilliant - easy to make and so fun to use!

And now for a few video highlights from the 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire!

You’ve already seen this if you follow me on Instagram, but this video features:

  • Landau the Dragon. This steampunk metal dragon is built on top of a motorcycle. The kids LOVED making his head move up and down. He blows fire, although not in the middle of the day (when you can’t see it), and also not with kids in charge!
  • An old IBM computer from the Computer History Museum. The kids got to make a computer card to bring home. We had a meltdown in the parking lot when we thought we had lost Anna’s card; thankfully it was in my backpack!
  • An old calculator, also from the Computer History Museum. My kids LOVE the Computer History Museum, and so we spent a fair bit of time at this booth. The kids had seen both this and the computer in the museum, but they hadn’t been allowed to touch, so this was pretty special. The calculator is entirely mechanical – gears make the operations happen. Pretty amazing!
  • Mechanical prehistoric creatures. I am still searching for the company behind these and will update when I find it. They were in Zone 2, I think.
  • Emma operating a little robot made partially using Makeblocks. They don’t sell this particular robot, but I was impressed by the way this company allows everything from basic robots elementary school children can program through to more sophisticated machines. This toy can even be used to make a 3D printer!
  • R2D2. We had to include him for my Star Wars loving kids!

Have you been to a Maker Faire before? If so, what are your top tips for visiting Maker Faire? Please share in the comments below, or on my Facebook page. You can also tag me on Instagram

MaryAnne at Mama Smiles
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MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

8 thoughts on “Tips for Visiting Maker Faire and 2017 Bay Area Maker Faire Highlights”

  1. We’ve been a few years, but we haven’t been since 2013. The last one was crazy. I feel it needs a bigger venue or needs to be longer than one weekend. I’m hoping to make it back someday. I think the kids would have a blast.

  2. Hoping to win tickets and take my kids. Fire-breathing robots, diet coke fountains, and the food are among our favorite things to see/do.

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