The Faire doesn’t officially open to the public until tomorrow, but things are already off to an exciting and inspiring start at the San Mateo Fairgrounds. This morning, we opened our gates to 900 local kids from 24 area schools, from Santa Cruz to Sonoma County and the East Bay. Since this year’s theme is Young Makers, some students were able to present their projects to the other kids in Sequoia, the building that’s been designated our “Young Makers Pavilion.” This is just the preview of many young makers who’ll be presenting their work in the Young Makers Pavilion over the weekend. Schmahl Science offered workshops in chromatography, Taiko drumming lessons were available, and students could do various craft projects, such as making felt plushies and woven wallets. Light doodling, EMS Lab’s tabletop pong, ArcAttack! tesla coil performances, cupcake cars, and the always-popular Lego jeep, were other attractions. And, of course, the iconic centerpiece for this year’s Faire, the Raygun Gothic Rocketship. Attendees ranged from kindergarten through high school, with most being in grades 5 through 8.

For the rest of the day, we’ll be switching into Maker to Maker mode, an opportunity for makers to meet each other, network, and attend some presentations, including an Auto Maker 2.0 panel discussion with Tim O’Reilly, Dale Dougherty, and Venkatesh Prasad, Technical Leader of the Infotronics team at Ford Research & Advanced Engineering, talking about the future of the car and its potential as platform for open software and hardware innovation, and Chris Anderson of Wired, talking about the “New Industrial Revolution.” And then… Happy Hour! (altho given all of the smiling faces and jacked-up enthusiasm radiating through the fairgrounds, getting much happier might be something of a challenge).