Maker (Faire Producer) Spotlight: Fab Lab Tulsa

Maker News
Maker (Faire Producer) Spotlight: Fab Lab Tulsa

On August 28th Maker Faire Tulsa celebrated its 9th event bringing back the hands-on magic they’ve delivered year after year. Even last year, amidst the challenges of lockdowns, the team at Fab Lab Tulsa displayed their commitment to creating opportunities for making, skill-sharing, business development, and education to the people of Tulsa through both their events and through the new facility they have been working steadily on through the pandemic, which is slated to open in the Fall of 2022. They are also piloting educational programs which serve the broader community like the Fab@School Maker Studio to complement their other elementary school programs.

Although every Maker Faire is a community effort, involving staff, makers, volunteers, and the participants themselves, leadership and vision keep events moving forward and evolving from scrappy community celebrations to regional events that push the maker movement forward into school, homes, camps, and other community organizations. Fab Lab Tulsa has just that sort of vision. As Director Nathan Pritchett noted of the programs they support and their planned expansion, “I’m just really bullish on the future of fab labs and maker spaces. Tulsa is actually world-famous for making big things. We produce a lot of things. We’ve got this history here, so there’s a lot of people that understand the value of making and they also see that we lost some of that for whatever cultural reasons. There’s also a huge deal here in supporting economic development and growing businesses and supporting education.” Maker Faire Tulsa taps into that community history and reveals a wealth of independent businesses as well as hobbyists, students, cosplayers, and all the other usual suspects. Learn more about FabLab Tulsa HERE.

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Maker Faire Tulsa 2021 Recap

Planning for Maker Faire Tulsa 2021 began in early January and followed our successful 2020 fair which was reimagined and adapted into a contactless fair due to Covid-19 concerns. Our 2020 fair saw the distribution of 1,000 free Maker Packs that included multiple unique DIY STEM kits, school supplies, and snacks for area youth. Fab Lab Tulsa staff designed and fabricated all 3,000 custom STEM kits using our own laser cutters and, with the help of a small group of volunteers, hand-packed all Maker Packs in the weeks leading up to the 2020 Maker Faire.

Parallel to our 2020 Maker Pack efforts, Fab Lab Tulsa staff custom designed and fabricated a 7-foot-tall Space Godzilla-themed Magic Wheelchair for a local child named William. It was the second year Fab Lab Tulsa had donated a custom immersive Magic Wheelchair project and the Space Godzilla design included lights, sounds, and smoke all activated by William. Read more about it HERE.

A great deal of planning went into organizing Maker Faire Tulsa 2021 in order to return to an in-person event. Extensive Covid-19 precautions, including mandatory masking, were in place for the safety of our event staff, exhibitors, and visitors. We want to thank the Muscogee (Creek) Nation Department of Health for operating a vaccination booth during the fair for our visitors. We welcomed back several previous MFT exhibitors, many first-year crafters and makers, out-of-state exhibitors like Reinvented’s Princesses with Powertools and Scorch Work’s Homemade Tools and Toys, and a strong showing of robotics exhibits from FIRST programs and combat robotics. Our QuikTrip sponsored and volunteer-operated Activity Zone provided over 1,500 making experiences for our youth attendees at no cost. The 2021 event was very successful and welcomed over 3,000 visitors.

See more at ReInvented Magazine and Beauty and the Bolt.

Some standout makers and exhibits from the program (see all the 2021 makers):

Maker Faire Tulsa makers Josh Waddell and Zach Raw shared a deep dive on their work in a couple of Maker Spotlights.

Hot Toast Music Co. is the product of dad, educator, and musician Symon Hajjar who writes irresistible kids’ music, all with purpose. Hajjar, or Mr. Symon as his students call him, draws inspiration from the way children often find magic in the mundane parts of life that are hidden in plain sight. For Hajjar, Hot Toast is not just “kids music” but an opportunity for wide-eyed innovators of all ages to join in the fun of self-discovery and creativity.

Hot Toast Music Co.

Cutting Up With Cathy is Cathy Jordan: leading lady at Cathy Jordan LLC, and upcoming YouTube channel, “Cuttin’ Up With Cathy,” will engage visitors with her electrifying humor while hosting interactive demonstrations using Cricut Maker, Cricut Explorer & Sublimation Blanks.

Cathy Jordan of Cutting Up With Cathy

The Midnight Ostrich Runners A group of students from different middle and high schools around the Tulsa area who work together coming up with a design, build and program a robot to compete against other teams.

Midnight Ostrich Runners and their Robot

2022 will mark Maker Faire Tulsa’s 10th anniversary and we’re working on ideas now for
next year’s presentations, exhibits, competitions, and activities to celebrate our milestone!

2022 Growth of Fab Lab Tulsa

The capital campaign for Fab Lab Tulsa‘s new facility, the Hardesty Hub for Makers.

After a multi-year capital campaign, Fab Lab Tulsa is currently constructing a new and greatly enlarged digital fabrication facility two blocks north of its current location in Tulsa’s Kendall-Whittier neighborhood.  Information about and construction images of the new facility and our groundbreaking can be found on our website.  Once completed in early 2022, the Hardesty Hub for Makers will be one of the largest Fab Labs within the international Fab Lab Network.  Information about the Fab Lab Network is available through the Fab Foundation.  The 14,000 square foot Hardesty Hub for Makers will include expanded computer-controlled machinery and new fabrication capabilities including metalworking, SLS 3D printing, multi-axis milling, digital printing, industrial sewing, and much more.  Classroom space will likewise be greatly enlarged and support multiple simultaneous education programs.  Fab Lab Tulsa continues to work with partners like The Opportunity Project and others to deliver STEM programming for students during and after school,  support and train a growing landscape of high school makerspaces across Oklahoma, lead workforce programming for working adults, and organize community programs for our hundreds of lab members.  Our new facility will allow us to scale up all of these programs.

Learn more about this project from Dale Dougherty’s June conversation with Fab Lab Tulsa Director Nathan Pritchett on Make:Cast. LISTEN.

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

Jennifer Blakeslee keeps the Global Maker Faire program running smoothly and has been a maker at Maker Faire since 2011. Among other things, she really likes to travel, write, cook, hike, make big art, and swim in the ocean.

View more articles by Jennifer Blakeslee


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