Eye on Extension: Getting your make on at a maker faire


VALLEY — Lights flickering and flashing! The sound of cardboard boxes being crushed. The whirring of drones flying overhead. 3D Printers beeping to a melodic tune as they build fidget spinners. Where in world could you experience all of these sights and sounds? At a local Maker Faire!

Maker Faires are events that celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science, and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset. They are an offshoot of the “maker” movement. According to Lee Martin of the University of California-Davis, maker is “a community of hobbyists, tinkerers, engineers, hackers, and artists who creatively design and build for both playful and useful ends.”

Makers learn important skills through their hands-on experience “making.” Youth can especially benefit from these skills to help them to be competitive in the changing workforce, and to be the entrepreneurs of the future. According to a report from the 2013 Maker Impact Summit, making helps empower youth to go from consumers to creators. It gives kids a sense of agency, ownership and achievement and nurtures curiosity, collaboration and exploration. Making also fosters the spirit of inventiveness and creativity, which allows youth to be resilient in the face of challenges.

The 4-H youth development program, with its slogan of “learn by doing,” has always been a way to foster the maker spirit. Since its inception it has been encouraging kids to tinker and create in projects like sewing, woodworking, cooking, and electricity. Newer projects like junk drawer robotics encourage kids to “make” using common items they might have laying around the house. All of these projects help kids channel their creativity, and learn basic engineering skills.

Colorado 4-H is also helping to foster the maker spirit by co-hosting the Pueblo Mini Maker Faire next weekend, Friday, October 27 and Saturday, October 28 at the State Fairgrounds in Pueblo. The event is a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. Participants show what they are making, and share what they are learning with attendees.

The event features all sorts of cool stuff, including a fire and lights show, Maker Marketplace, box truck night market, costume contest, and robot, drone and RC challenges. I strongly encourage families who want some fun and inspiration to attend. A Maker Faire might be the spark that helps you or your kid catch the maker spirit. Find out more about event this event at https://pueblo.makerfaire.com.

Amy Henschen is the 4-H Youth Development Agent for Colorado State University Extension. To find out more about Extension and the 4-H program visit http://sanluisvalley.colostate.edu or call 719-852-7381. Extension programs are available to all without discrimination.