The Ottawa Mini Maker Faire was held August 16-17 at the Canadian Science and Technology Museum. This was the fourth annual faire and it gets bigger every year. Last year we were in a room inside the museum and a tent in the parking lot. This year we were completely inside the museum. There was the big room, like last year, and a new "Make it Space" back behind the locomotives. We were in the "Make it Space", geared to hands-on, interactive presentations. It was a busy couple of days! I'm going to stop trying to explain it all - here's a TV clip that did a great job, with our own Hari leading the way!
This year, the makers got these fantastic badges made by Randy Glenn. What a treat! We've been to maker faires all over this year, including the big ones, and these are the best badges by far. The lights were great. As we walked through the museum they would catch the attention of the patrons and I'm sure helped draw a few people back to the Make it Space. The parliament buildings are a nice touch. Randy says he's got a great idea for next year - can't wait to see them.
One of the highlights of the weekend for me was the Maker Education Panel on Saturday, moderated by Luc Lalande. It was great to work with Shauna Pollack (we visited her class here and here) and meet Rick Alexanderson (Peter the Robot) and Paul McGuire (@mcguirep). Nanik was very honored to be invited to participate as well. He was nervous, but shared his adventures with his summer stand up paddle board project. Shauna has documented the panel on her blog, "This is My Teacher Costume". Amy Bowker (@classcollect) has mentioned it on her tumblr post here. I enjoyed the panel. One of the most striking observations for me was the disconnect between elementary, secondary and post-secondary education. A physics prof in the audience commented that he had students who couldn't write code or solder, yet we now have this focus on teaching these skills to the elementary age group. Have we lost a generation of people who are interested in working with their hands? It's an interesting question to consider when teaching the same skills across such wide age groups.
— Maker Faire Ottawa (@MakerFaireOTT) August 16, 2014
My great thanks to Luc Lalande for organizing this panel. We were honored to be asked to participate with such a great group of speakers. The audience was very engaged and it was great to hear from university profs, art teachers, and parents and students who have benefited from this movement. The Maker Ed community is growing and will be led by the teachers and principals who make this happen. We are happy to help!
Luc gifted me with the one thing I've been missing as I've been considering how I fit into all of this. A label. I'm not a teacher - I have a background in computer science and have spent many years working in the industry. I have been reluctant to jump into Maker Ed discussions as I can't speak as a teacher and I don't want to presume. I can speak as a parent. And, thanks to Luc, I am very happy to speak as a Maker Education Practitioner. I think that's a great description of what we're aiming to do with Maker Junior. I'm going to go add it to my profile.
— Maker Faire Ottawa (@MakerFaireOTT) August 17, 2014
At our table this year, we added a game that Nanik wrote in Scratch called Funny Bunny. We used the MaKey MaKey to hook it up to some carrots for the game controllers. I love the MaKey MaKey - I've had so much fun working with it. We've started carrying it in our online store. We had an apple set up as ground until a little guy gave in to temptation and ate it! LOL! It was a good looking apple indeed. No worries - we had extra carrots.
We had our usual good time building doodle bots. A lot of people came up to our table on Sunday to say they had seen the TV spot. It didn't take long for the paper on the table to be completely covered by doodles. We had a lot of fun back in the Make it Space with our fellow makers, DIY Pinball, Puck Mill, Inventor Artist, the Ottawa Art Gallery, Nuit Blanche, Owly Design and more!
Almost a year ago we launched Maker Junior at our first Ottawa Mini Maker Faire. It was great to come to our second. This is a wonderful, supportive community and I was happy to be able to make some introductions and feel like I could contribute. Our thanks go to Artengine and the wonderful organizers Remco and Britta, and the Canadian Science and Technology Museum. And of course, to you! Thanks for attending. Your participation and support make it all possible.