Open Shoes, Open Robots, Open Health: Bilbao Mini Maker Faire 2014

Open Shoes, Open Robots, Open Health:  Bilbao Mini Maker Faire 2014

The 2nd annual Bilbao Mini Maker Faire over the July 12/13 weekend was a wonderful event. 3500 people attended over the two days, with 50 or so maker exhibits. Not bigger numbers than last year—but last year they were in a central city plaza location with lots of happenstance foot traffic.

This year the team moved the Maker Faire “home,” to the Cookie Factory in Zorrozaurre, where a number of the makers (including the organizers and the makerspace) have taken root. Getting that many people to choose to make the trip out to Zorrozaurre and to set foot in this newly revitalizing Cookie Factory was a great success!

Standout parts of Bilbao Mini Maker Faire for me:
High school technology teacher Jabi Luego and his students from Ikastola Tolosa (see above pic). The maker program Jabi runs is a 3 year elective, project-based maker curriculum. The kids start with simple materials in the first year, get an intro to electronics in the second, and then work on an integrated design and prototyping project in the third.

Take the Incubegg, a smart, sensor-enabled incubator, that was developed in conjunction with the lower school science curriculum. I love the dynamics of this project: that once you flip the switch, it’s not the end of it. Then begins a 21 day wait, watching the sensors monitoring this nurturing habitat, and then the performance of the eggs finally hatching. Birth! Little chicks! And the older kids then teaching and explaining to kids.

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Brilliant. Also they built a balloon camera with 2 GoPros attached, with GPS, and launched it into lower atmosphere recording amazing footage until the bubble burst. SEE VIDEO ABOVE; START AT 7:06 Once it landed, then using the GPS, the team head out to retrieve it. Jabi Luego gets the importance of documentation—all the student projects have blogs, plans and Twitter feeds!

I’d never met Cooking Hacks before. They are the SparkFun for the Spanish market. And what is their #1 seller? An e-health sensor platform kit! I’d never have guessed that that many Tim Ferrisses are out there monitoring and hacking for health!


Another highlight: The Bilbao team’s production design. This little Faire had so much style! Laser cut signage everywhere, potted plants and “installations” of laser-cut cardboard interlocking “barricades” to help with wayfinding. The Cafe, were people relaxed and drank coffee or beer and had lunch. So European, this attention to detail and the pleasure of it.

The presentation stage area perhaps manifested the most remarkably European vibe of the event.  It seemed that half of the talks were orchestrated as discussion—with everyone sitting in a circle! Even at my talk, first of the weekend, no one was in a hurry to be rushed off to the next thing. People wanted an exchange, and there was time and I’m guessing someone who encouraged the circular seating.

Plus so many great exhibits! Flip through the slide show to see the “Cliche Invaders” game + knit controllers (using only conductive thread not wires!) by a group of young makers that participated in a Bilbao Makers summer. Also artist Nestor Lizalde’s creepy yammering eggs installation. Tunipena’s awesomely creative instruments.  An “open shoes” platform, an InMoov open robot, the Basque country’s 3D printers…

Check them all out:

Congratulations and thank you to Karim, Nerea and the entire Bilbao Mini Maker Faire team for bringing Maker Faire to the Basque country! On egin! Topa! Eskerriska!

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Sabrina is the Maker Faire Program Director. She works on stage content for the flagship fairs (Bay Area & New York), and also runs Maker Faire's global licensing program for locally and independently produced Maker Faires. She also co-creates the East Bay Mini Maker Faire in her town, Oakland, CA.

View more articles by Sabrina Merlo


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