Makers gotta make

It’s here and in full force: Maker Faire Detroit. Close to 450 makers are set up on the grounds of The Henry Ford in the lots along Oakwood Blvd.

The spirit of making is everywhere. And the coolest part? Making means creating something – and it’s the diverse array of “somethings” that makes this event so appealing.

This year’s fair has it all: high-tech, low-tech, game shows, giant board games, physical fun, physics fun, fiery fun, life-sized destruction, pint-sized auto racing, hacker spaces, food and fancies, products that are practical and not, entrepreneurial makers, science explorers, performers, pretenders, exhibitors young, old and everywhere in between - and makers who just have to make (which – by my guess – is probably every single one of them).

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

Matt Oehrlein from 13 Detroit stands by the Mind Flame. Using sensors, the apparatus reads a user’s level of concentration. They have to concentrate to get the fiery bursts. It was a hot item for visitors today (in more ways than one).

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

Students test play “Fluke” a wealth-building game of accidental inventions by maker Ida Byrd-Hill.

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

Dozer from Dozer Studio brought all kinds of works in steel including this Dandelion sculpture, suped-up “man cave” furnishings and a few custom  cycles.

Maker Faire 2012 at The Henry Ford

Girl Scouts are right in the spirit: making and selling pins, magnets, hair clips and more.

Maker Faire Detroit 2012

There’s a variety of robotics projects. Some of the robots are useful, others quirky, and still more are just for fun.

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

There were forward-thinking projects focusing on ecology and environmental issues, such as this one being described by a Kettering University Student to an interested visitor.

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

There are a dozen 3-D printers exhibited this year; each one draws a crowd.

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

Stephani Beauchamp (left) did some making out of necessity – and it resulted in her gluten-free Granola So Good! that she’s selling for the first time at Maker Faire Detroit. (I had a sample; it’s aptly named.)

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

These young men brought an electric go-cart they created using as a platform parts from two scooters. Teens Abril Sawhney, Harish Chander and Vishnu Venkatesan have in the past built some smaller-scale projects involving Legos, but this year wanted to pursue their engineering interests.

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

There are many opportunities for activities that appeal to kids of all ages, including those with an affinity for a little familiar magic. Children can play at the Wizardly Fun display, have a dual, repot a Mandrake and other clever Potter-like pleasures.

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

Exhibitor Back to the Roots is displaying its Mushroom Garden. The innovative countertop garden involves very little care and, frankly, very little patience. In just 10 days, the garden produces fresh mushrooms grown entirely in sterilized recycled coffee grounds.

Maker Faire Detroit 2012 at The Henry Ford

I think exhibitor Jovan Hill expressed the Maker Faire spirit best. I had the opportunity with talk to him before the event, and he told me he is new to Maker Faire experience. He learned about it last year – after the fact – and was bummed he missed it. Sight unseen, when he heard the call for makers, he answered. He said didn’t really know there was a whole “maker movement” because he’d been taking apart old things and putting them together to make something new since he was a kid.

When I saw him this morning, he was all smiles. He said was having the best time and had learned so much just from talking with other makers while setting up. He said that alone was worth the whole experience already. And that’s it. The joy of making, collaborative innovation, idea sharing and some crazy hacking fun.

Maker Faire Detroit is tomorrow, too. The event opens at 9:30. For information, an event schedule, a map, an app and more, visit makerfairedetroit.com.

The top photo is of a small electronic Hexbug-like gadget made by students in the Chicago Knights program.