There’s a maker movement gaining momentum in the Tri-Cities and it was never more apparent than on the first-ever Mini Maker Faire put on by Barnes & Noble in early November. The event was open to all ages and allowed participants to interact with the local maker community through product demonstrations, learning sessions, and hands-on projects.
[blockquote quote="This has been such a huge success that I hope we can have events like this more frequently." source="Wendy Lilly, manager at Barnes & Noble" align="right" max_width="300px"]
The nationwide event was a partnership between Barnes and Noble and Maker Media, the organization behind Maker Faire and Make Magazine.
Blazing the trail locally is Confluent Space, a nonprofit maker space founded by people passionate about the intersection of art, technology, electronics, science and engineering.
The fair was designed to bring together the curious with makers, crafters, and technologists, of all kinds to learn and explore innovative technologies like Raspberry Pi, Arduino microcontroller, and personal 3D printing that are catalyzing innovation in manufacturing, engineering, hardware technology and education.
The event featured 3-D printer demonstrations, Lego robots, flying drones, junk art and programming.
Jesse Lane, Confluent Space’s marketing and outreach coordinator, said he created the Facebook page for the local maker space in September and within a month, Wendy Lilly of Barnes & Noble, contacted him. She was looking for exhibitors for the nation-wide Mini Maker Faire.
“We decided we could help her make those connections in the community since we were already making those same connections with local makers and tinkerers,” said Lane. “We want to be able to bring community together and bring corner makers that don’t get recognition they deserve, so we can share ideas, spread maker movement and get excited about building with things.”
Exhibitors included the Richland Public Library, which is also creating a maker space of its own with its recently launched Building STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) program.
The program hosts daily hands-on activities in coding, circuitry, arts and engineering. During the event, library staff helped kids put together snap circuits.
Other exhibitors included the Sylvan Learning Center, Jenny Rieke recycled art, Melanie Campo steampunk art and Kat Millicent Custom Art.
Kathleen Campisano, Barnes and Noble’s vice president of toys and games, hosted the store’s inaugural Mini Maker Faire after attending a similar maker event in San Mateo, Calif.
“This has been such a huge success that I hope we can have events like this more frequently,” said Lilly, manager for Barnes & Noble at Columbia Center. “We’ve really diversified from books to educational toys and games. We’ve already had the Maker line of product in our stores, so it felt natural for us to host this event.”
Those interested in learning more about the technology, art and products behind demonstrated at the Mini Maker Faire can also contact Confluent Space. The nonprofit recently signed a lease on a space in 285 Williams Blvd. in Richland. The nonprofit is in the process of finishing up renovations and cleaning up the location.
“We’ve started planning some fundraisers to get equipment,” said Lane. “We’ve been getting donations from people who know us and who believe in what we want to do. We’ve been buying some of the necessary things out of pocket, but we really need ongoing donations to keep things alive. We want to see it come from the community who want to make this happen.”
Lane said Confluent Space’s mission is to facilitate the education and growth of artists, inventors, technologists and hobbyists by providing the space, tools, safety and education to enable the creation in the community, which currently has 175 members. Confluent Space will ultimately include a woodworking shop, metalsmithing shop, electronics lab, art studios, classrooms, storage rental space and a gallery to display all of its member’s creations.
The nonprofit is seeking funding for tools and equipment such as 3-D printers, woodworking machines, laser cutters, welding equipment, saws, electronic tools and soldering tools.
“We want to give everyone the ability express themselves through art and robotics,’ Lane said. “We’re hoping to start getting everything going in the next couple of months.”
Confluent Space also plans to offer educational classes and workshops on a variety of technology and techniques. The nonprofit will be offering different levels of membership to those who want to use the shop and space for projects.
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To learn more about Confluent Space, visit www.confluent.space.
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