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Experiencing a Maker Faire, even if you work for Maker Faire and have seen many, is a process of discovery. Indeed, surprise is the gift of any Maker Faire, and the 2nd annual Denver Mini Maker Faire did not disappoint. So in no particular order, here are 10 subjective highlights from the weekend:

1. Nineteen (!!) beeping, pinging, winding, blinking “Inner Workings of the Pinball” displays by Mark Gibson.  Plus one new, not quite finished baseball game. A brilliantly interactive and educational lineup of all parts of old pinball machines, clearly labeled and explained.

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2. The Rocky Mountain Lace Guild‘s bobbin lace booth. President Jane Meier here also turns her own bobbins on her husbands’ pen lathe. Loved that they were placed directly across from awesome moment Number Three…

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3. This teen-built, Theo Jansen-insired walking machine, TrotBot. Attendees could work the crank and turn all those linkages (it was up on blocks). Dad Wade Vagel led the charge with a set of kids who had worked their way through Wade’s alternative Lego Mindstorms curriculum. Interview here with TrotBot team member Alby Musaelian:

4. The Denver Faire had a full three days of Maker Education programming!  Big thanks and kudos to Gia Medeiros of Denver’s Makintosh Academy for organizing.  This outstanding Friday panel featured Denver MakerPros — rockstars Eric Schweikardt (ModRobotics), Nathan Seidle (Spark Fun), and Ross Ingram (Sphero) — where the three got into fun, sometimes scandalous tales about their individual paths through education towards Maker entrepreneurship.

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5. Denver Sheet Metal Workers Local 9 booth where you could crimp, fold, and cut sheet metal into this toolbox. One of the Union leadership had visited the Faire last year and decided to push for a hands-on presence for 2015. A definite success! Attendees got to get experience with a whole set of pro sheet metal tools staffed adequately by Local 9 apprentices and journeymen.  Great work Local 9!

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6. Human sized foosball.IMG_7330

7. Denver’s biggest makerspace, DenHac, received a seed grant from Denver Mini Maker Faire organizers Colorado Maker Hub and created this rad Star Wars command bridge for a Star Wars simulator game.

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8. A Nerdy Derby track made from 3D printed parts. This “no-rules miniature car building and racing competition” began as a NYU Interactive Telecommunications Program student project for the 2012 World Maker Faire. A team from Loveland Creatorspace rehashed the ITP track design & worked with Aleph Objects, 3D Print Store, Idea2-Product to crowd-print the track in time for the Faire.

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9. Maker Dad Casey Rohn’s installation of over 20–30 projects from his garage — bowls to go karts to cool games to this skateboard press. Brilliant exhibit design too, with homemade 2×4 + canvas canopy along with a chalkboard for calculations and future project visioning.

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10. My new favorite hands-on making Maker Faire activity: TOY HACK! I work with Maker Faire organizers around the globe & this one (here done by the Denver Library) is reproducible everywhere! “Trash” toys + hacksaws & scissors + materials & glue guns. WIN!

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OK just one more irresistable moment… 11. Makey pooped! Thanks so much to Elise and Karen and team from Colorado Maker Hub for all the work and time spent organizing. And to the Denver Nature and Science Museum for such a great venue. See you next year!!
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