• Today is: Monday, October 16, 2017

Maker Faire Pittsburgh: The greatest show (and tell) on earth

maker faire
Kimberly Palmiero
October09/ 2017

Maker Faire Pittsburgh is back and might be the biggest DIY party for kids around.

More than 250 makers will encourage children to create, design, and explore at the event, set for Oct. 14 and 15 during RADical Days at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh and Buhl Community Park.

The first Maker Faire kicked off in California in 2006. The concept: Bring together doers, dreamers, tinkerers, and the wildly curious to showcase new designs, products, and technologies. The movement has grown to more than 200 Maker Faires worldwide. Pittsburgh’s event started with the Children’s Museum Mini Maker Faires in 2011 and 2012, then moved up to the national Maker Faire level.

This year’s Maker Faire is free for the first time as part of RADical Days. Families can skip the ticket line at the Children’s Museum by registering online in advance.

maker faire
Josh Inklovich of FIT Farms in a grow room, where visitors can listen to the music of plants.

Part of the inventive fun will be plants that make music. Kids can sit inside an 8-foot-by-8-foot plywood “grow room” from FIT Farms, filled with sage, broccoli, rosemary, and lavender. There’s enough room for five to sit inside and listen to the music of the plants, or even play along with instruments. The plants’ energy is translated into music using a MIDI device.

“It’s a living, interactive farm,” says Josh Inklovich, chief servant leader of FIT Farms.

maker faire
HackPGH brings power races with a LEGO car and SLAMborghini.

Kids with a need for speed will love the power racing. The hand-built SLAMborghini and LEGO vehicle come from HackPGH in Uptown. One vehicle is modeled from “scaled-up” LEGOs, says Chad Elish, president of HackPGH. Power races take place across the U.S. with rules for participants building the vehicles.

“I think it’s important that you have this engineering aspect to it, but it inspires kids to be like, ‘I want to build one of those and race those,’ ” says Elish, who helps to produce Maker Faires across the country.

More highlights:

  • Participate in a robot petting zoo where kids can make, code and design animatronic animals, using cardboard, coding and crafting supplies. Students should register for this activity.
  • Learn how to use 3-D printers from a variety of exhibitors who make jewelry, toys, and animals using the technology that allows users to create a three-dimensional model on a computer and then “print” it out.
  • See how glass is blown into a piece of art, from the Pittsburgh Glass Center.
  • Check out how one artist turned coffee pods into jewelry.
  • Enjoy the performances of acrobats, jugglers, magicians, and stilt walkers from the Pittsburgh Circus Arts Collaborative.

The Children’s Museum is the producer of Maker Faire Pittsburgh, with sponsors that include Chevron, The Grable Foundation, and MAKE:makezine.com.

Kimberly Palmiero