Announcing Virtually Maker Faire

Maker News
Announcing Virtually Maker Faire

A 24-Hour Global “Show and Tell” for Makers Featuring the Civic Response to COVID-19

Saturday, May 23

The world changed in 2020 and Maker Faire must also change and adapt, given new constraints. If we can no longer gather in-person to connect and share as makers, we can experiment with new ways of gathering online to share projects, experiences, and ideas. At the heart of Maker Faire is the community, which is both global in scope and local in its focus. As with any Maker Faire, makers showcase their enthusiasm and creativity, their competence, and collaboration. We can help others learn to become makers and develop the skills and mindset of a maker. Even when done online, Maker Faire can generate a feeling of wonder, a vibe of optimism, a spirit that reflects all that we can do together, and a message of hope for the present and the future.

At Virtually Maker Faire on May 23rd, we will feature the important ways that makers have responded to the challenges brought about by COVID-19. I have called the maker response, Plan C for Civic Response because the maker community is a model for a new kind of self-organizing civic response to a crisis. This rapid response represents a way to think of innovation by and for the public. It is not only a necessary response today but a model that we can build upon for the future.

We are applying the same self-organizing principles to Virtually Maker Faire. The event will be organized by those who choose to participate — individuals and groups, on a global or local level, who want to share what they are doing. We will curate and coordinate the efforts but our goal is to enable you to share with others directly. We also think the event can produce a record in time of the many incredible projects that makers of all kinds have initiated as well as some of the lessons learned.

Over a 24-hour period, starting in Asia, then heading to Europe and ending in the Americas, Virtually Maker Faire will showcase makers and their projects. Virtually Maker Faire can reach out to everyone, regardless of where they live, and share the know-how and ethos of making.

Virtually Maker Faire will take place entirely online through scheduled video sessions and a curated exhibit of projects on Projects, presentations, workshops, and demonstrations can be submitted through our Call for Makers. The program will be curated into five tracks: Design and Production, Community Organizing, Learning & Teaching, Re-thinking the Future, and Making.

Maker Sessions: Video sessions can be pre-recorded or live-streamed at 30 minutes or 1-hour lengths. A presentation can be a 30-minute talk or a 60-minute panel, which would include time for questions. (Panels seem to work well for live streaming). Demonstrations and workshops are two interactive ways to share what you know and help others learn how to make something. Demonstrations should be a 20 to 30 minutes in length. Examples are showing a project build, sharing a skill or technique, or providing a tutorial on a tool or component. Workshops can be much longer tutorials, introducing concepts as well as practical advice on how to do something. Workshops can be free or fee-based.

We especially want to encourage those of you who have taught workshops or classes on making to bring your expertise to Virtually Maker Faire and experiment doing an online version of that class. We want workshops for beginners as well as intermediate and advanced topics. Be a member of the Maker Faire faculty.

If you want to see an excellent example of a demonstration and workshop sessions, check out CodeJoy on Family Maker Camp. These sessions are produced by Matt and Kelsey using a multiple camera setup and broadcast through Zoom.

Each video session requires an organizer who will be responsible for selecting the video platform (Zoom, Skype, etc) used to host the session and organizing other panelists or presenterers. The link to each video session will appear on a master schedule on

Maker Project Exhibits — Think of project exhibits like Science Fair posters, but accompanied by a two-minute video that introduces the project, what it is and how it works. The goal is to encourage interaction and feedback from other makers and the public. The collection of projects will be hosted on our new platform,

Here are the five tracks for Virtually Maker Faire and some suggestions about tropics we’d like to see:

Design & Production:

  • The development, rapid prototyping, testing, and deployment of shared solutions.
  • Specific projects and how they developed.
  • How the capacity to produce locally matters to the response and how it can be important for the future.
  • Iterating to meet needs and respond to feedback from health care workers and meeting the needs of the broader community.


Community Organizing:

  • The organization of local distribution networks for pickup and delivery of PPE, as well as for connecting with others such as manufacturers.
  • Overcoming a broken supply chain
  • Tools and methods used to manage volunteers and incoming requests.
  • Creating awareness in government, industry, and citizens; Funding models or lack thereof.


Learning and Teaching:

  • How are maker educators adapting to digital tools
  • Encouraging hands-on learning at home.
  • How to do effective hands-on workshops and courses online.
  • How to train more people to participate in civic response.


Re-thinking the Future:

  • How the pandemic and our response to it is teaching us to think differently.
  • Medical supply shortages is just the first wave. What else is coming?
  • How, where and why we can do things better.
  • Sustainability. Food. Well-being.



  • The necessity of DIY as a personal response
  • Making for fun and to keep one’s sanity
  • The value of the social connections created through making
  • The role of makerspaces in our communities

Calling All Makers!

Virtually Maker Faire is an opportunity for you to share what you’ve done and let other people learn from you and your group. Tell us about your projects, share what’s going on in your community, talk about how your makerspace, FabLab, maker club or school is involved in the response to COVID-19. Your stories and insight can help inspire others. Get involved by organizing or leading a panel discussion, creating a workshop or demonstration, share a presentation, or exhibit a project.

Apply through our Call to Makers form.

Thank you for being part of this extraordinary effort.

Discuss this article with the rest of the community on our Discord server!

DALE DOUGHERTY is the leading advocate of the Maker Movement. He founded Make: Magazine 2005, which first used the term “makers” to describe people who enjoyed “hands-on” work and play. He started Maker Faire in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, and this event has spread to nearly 200 locations in 40 countries, with over 1.5M attendees annually. He is President of Make:Community, which produces Make: and Maker Faire.

In 2011 Dougherty was honored at the White House as a “Champion of Change” through an initiative that honors Americans who are “doing extraordinary things in their communities to out-innovate, out-educate and out-build the rest of the world.” At the 2014 White House Maker Faire he was introduced by President Obama as an American innovator making significant contributions to the fields of education and business. He believes that the Maker Movement has the potential to transform the educational experience of students and introduce them to the practice of innovation through play and tinkering.

Dougherty is the author of “Free to Make: How the Maker Movement Is Changing our Jobs, Schools and Minds” with Adriane Conrad. He is co-author of "Maker City: A Practical Guide for Reinventing American Cities" with Peter Hirshberg and Marcia Kadanoff.

View more articles by Dale Dougherty


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