wow.... wow... wow. When asked to describe the Seattle Mini Maker Faire... all I can say is wow. For the past few years the organizers have made sure we had a corner booth with easy access; because we are always one of the busiest booths. From the moment the Faire opens till after it closes, we are jam packed with kids, adults, curious folks, and staff.
This year I was fortunate to have a friend, Bev Beppler, give a helping hand for both days of the event. After a quick few minute instruction on how to build the kite, she was off and running and teaching hundreds of others how to build the kite!
Side note before I get running off talking about the event, Bev is an amazing person. She has an incredible soul, one that seems to fully be focused on being a positive force of nature in the world. She gives back a lot through her work, and some of her charity work, and of course, in helping build kids kites!
Back to the Mini Maker Faire. So, there was some big changes this year for the overall event, including scheduling and the number of makers. Some of the big regulars were missing (perhaps because of the change in scheduling?), but the crowds were the same.
There was however, quite a few familiar faces that I have come to call friend over the past few years. Makers from Universities, from Robotics Teams, from the Muggle Magic folks, from local Maker Spaces, from Glowforge, from the 3d printer folks. There was also a handful of new artists, their first time attending, and I saw that look in their eye that I know all to well.
It is this look that kicks in after the first hour or so, a look of 'what did I get myself into... this is crazy busy!'.
"Don't worry... you get used to it."
Over the next two days we proceeded to build several hundred kites (still unpacking, but expecting about 400-500). There was a continuous stream of kids and adults wanting to build kites, asking questions, flying kites, playing with the supplies, and more.
The kite we were building is the one that will be featured in the upcoming e-book, it isn't anything fancy, just a simple sled kite. But, what I am trying to capture in that e-book is the process that has been refined over the past 4 years and made this whole project a success. Part of that is because the kite is super easy to build and is rather forgiving of mistakes. Part of it is that it doesn't necessarily need to be built in order, so you can easily adjust the steps and work process to fit the needs of the event. Part of it is that all of the supplies are readily accessible and easy to find without going to specialty stores.
Spending the time at home doing the prep work does go a long way to making the event successful. Not only does it make it quick to build the kite, thus giving the kids more time to decorate and fly; but it also helps keep the booth and the work-space tidy as things get crazy with lots of people.
One of the things I really love about being at this event is the electric shock it gives to my creativity. Before getting home Sunday night, my exhausted and overstimulated brain was already cranking out ideas on how to improve on the project, how to make it bigger and better. How to use kites to help more kids learn to be more creative, more accepting of failure. The barrier to entry to exploration, being creative, and to trying and learning is rather low.
I see it working when kids build this sled at the maker faire. While they are building, they ask about modifying the kite. Would moving the tails make it fly differently? What if I cut a hole in the middle? Can I tape the sails together and change the shape? What happens if the bridle is shortened. On the surface, I personally know that most of the answers to these questions are that it will not fly better. But I realize that I know that because of my own experimentation. The only way that these kids are going to learn is by trying for themselves.
So, when that kid asks for more tape than I know they need, or wants to add more tails, I let them. We have a little conversation about why they think their modification will work, or what it will do to the kite... then they go fly it. It is so refreshing to see them so excited by the whole process.
Even better that they want to keep coming back, keep building new ones, keep flying, keep creating, keep modifying. That is what it is all about. That is now the personal motto of this whole venture. The three most important things about this project and why it is important to keep doing it.
Connect. Discover. Explore
Alright folks, time to get to work on the videos from the event. Will hopefully have them done this week, all the while preparing for the Putting Moves to Music Workshop at Washington State International Kite Festival this weekend!!!