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Our 6th annual Bay Area Maker Faire drew to a close just 72 hours ago, and I’m working through the post-Maker Faire blues — transitioning from the adrenaline rush of being surrounded by 100,000 passionate DIY enthusiasts one day to the relative serenity of the office the next. It’s enormously satisfying, however, to reflect on the profound impact that Maker Faire has on attendees.

The heart of the Maker Shed’s mission is to help people get started making. Through project-based kits like Getting Started with Arduino and Getting Started with Compressed Air Rockets, we help newcomers start making for the first time and help experienced makers learn new skills.

Nowhere is this more true than in the Maker Shed pop-up stores we operate during Maker Faire: 14,000 square feet and hundreds of kits and components combined with dozens of makers, authors, and volunteers helping people explore everything from Arduinos to cheese making.

And nowhere is our mission more visible than in the Maker Shed’s “Learn to Solder” tent where, with the helpful coaching of Mitch Altman, Jimmie Rodgers, and a dozen local hackerspace volunteers, some 3,100 attendees mastered soldering for the first time. Participants left the Maker Shed with smiles on their faces, new skills, increased confidence, and a cool flashing LED merit badge to show for it. The perfect gateway project kit.

If you’d like your own Learn to Solder merit badge kit — or you’re looking for a cool gateway project or for a group or after-school class — they’re available for purchase in the Maker Shed (makershed.com/pin11). We’ll also include one with every Maker Shed order of at least $10 through August 31. It’s on me.

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Dan Woods

Dan is CEO of TechShop, Inc. Before joining the team, he spent nine years at O'Reilly Media and was the co-founder of Make: Magazine, which focuses on how-to projects for makers. In this role, Dan oversaw marketing, media relations, circulation development, community outreach, and sales for the magazine. He helped establish Make: as the premier media group and voice of the DIY market. He also conceived and launched the Maker Shed store, growing it to one of Make:'s most important assets. Dan has a BS in Aeronautics from San Jose State University and studied business administration at Santa Clara University's Graduate School of Business.

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