How Magnificent, When Marvelous Makers Make

by Craig Gingerich

Concordia International School Shanghai recently hosted their 4th Jinqiao Mini Maker Faire. After the lights turned out and the doors closed at the end of the day, it was declared a smashing success once again!

The Maker Faire concept has been around for nearly 15 years. The very first Maker Faire event was held in California in 2006 with just 100 makers. Since then, the event has turned into a movement with an eclectic range of cities worldwide hosting mini Maker Faires. Concordia joined the movement by hosting their first Mini Maker Faire, appropriately named Jinqiao Mini Maker Faire, in 2014.

Often people wonder, “What is a Maker Faire?” André DeKoker, one of the Jinqiao Mini Maker Faire organizers sums it up well. “A Maker Faire involves passionate groups of creators, tinkerers and inventors, dubbed Makers, gathering together to display their interesting, innovative and sometimes fantastical creations. There are no typical Makers and they range in age from seven to seventy years old.”

Visitors to the Faire were able to participate in many challenges. (Photo: André De Koker)

Visitors to the Faire were able to participate in many challenges. (Photo: André De Koker)

In discussing participation, Craig Gingerich, one of the event organizers explained, “Participation has varied over the years with Makers and attendees, but our Maker participation has continued to remain constant. In all, we had over 100 Makers divided up among 30 Maker booths and DIY booths. Attendance has varied from 200 attendees to 800 attendees across the four fairs. This year we had over 450 attendees come to participate in the event. Considering the event was held on a Chinese work day, those numbers are quite pleasing.”

The producer of the event, Jennifer Chapman, recapped some of her memories of the day. “This year we saw Makers with robots, apps and games, artwork, prints, Raspberry Pi creations, 3D printed products, recycled t-shirts, and much more. I love watching both the attendees and the Makers light up as they interact with each other while sharing their projects!”

MasterChef Challenge teams included Elementary, Middle and High School student teams. (Photo: André De Koker)

MasterChef Challenge teams included Elementary, Middle and High School student teams. (Photo: André De Koker)

Participants had nothing but praise for the experience. "It was my first attendance at a Concordia Maker Fair. First, I was very impressed by the plethora of options available to attendees. The student-hosted booths were also of great value. I brought a local friend and his son. They were amazed by what they saw,” recalled David Allen, a music teacher at Concordia.

A High School Maker, Jonathan S., felt that the event allowed him to show off his hobbies to a greater audience. “I had a lot of fun getting to show off the work that I had done in the past year and a half and it was definitely well worth it. There were a lot of younger kids who came by and loved the games, and a couple of parents and other adults who enjoyed getting to hear about the process.”

One visiting STEM coach from a local school said of the event, “I came to this event to be inspired in what I can do at my own school.  I am inspired and then some!”

Words from an elementary school parent sums up the business of the day “Thank you for showing my daughters love and giving them joy. After many hours, you would think they’d want to go home, but they cried that it was over and there was no more Making!”

The Egg-Cellent Egg Drop Challenge was a smash! (Photo: André De Koker)

The Egg-Cellent Egg Drop Challenge was a smash! (Photo: André De Koker)

“Our Makers come in all nationalities, sizes, shapes, colors and genders. If you have a passion for building and sharing, then we encourage you to attend,” says Carla Molloy, one of the event organizers. “All types of projects and inventions are encouraged!”

“In the coming years we are hoping to continue to build our Maker community. One part of that process is to involve our community in challenges like this year’s inaugural Egg-cellent Egg Drop Challenge and Concordia’s Masterchef. We are thankful for teachers and colleagues who have a vision and passion for organizing fun challenges like this - including Brian Lavender who designed the MasterChef challenge and our two STEM coaches, Lisa Hawkins and Ryan Maney, who created the Egg Drop challenge. Challenge events like this bring our community together,” insists Jennifer Chapman, the event producer.

Don’t miss out on the next opportunity to visit a Maker Faire near you!