Drag-Race Power Tools, Build Tiny Dioramas, and Hang Out with Superheroes in Houston

Maker News
Drag-Race Power Tools, Build Tiny Dioramas, and Hang Out with Superheroes in Houston

Houston makers have been convening for the past five years at the Houston Maker Faire, sharing enthusiasm and knowledge, but this year might be a little bit different. After the recent devastation that Hurricane Harvey brought to the city, the maker community banded together, stepping up to volunteer, lend their skills, and make a difference. This unity and camaraderie has no doubt made the Houston maker community even stronger than before.

This year’s Houston Maker Faire takes place on October 21 and 22 at the George R. Brown Convention Center, which, up until just a month ago, served as an emergency shelter and relief center for thousands of hurricane victims. Organized by Innovation Spark, a nonprofit committed to the advancement of STEM education throughout the Greater Houston area, the Faire will showcase 140 maker exhibits, spanning a wide range of skill and creativity.

New this year is an entire Education Pavilion with eight classrooms dedicated to educating attendees, with special content offerings specifically geared toward teachers. Innovation Spark partnered with Harris County Public Library to run the area, with Region 4 Teachers Education Services providing the teacher content. Also new is their first Raspberry Jam , a mini festival within the Faire celebrating Raspberry Pi and all the amazing creations you can make with it.

Plus, there will be a strong cosplay presence (including the Comicpalooza Street Team pictured above), rocketry club demos, and both power tools drag racing as well as Power Wheels racing. Interestingly, the latter two are presented by organizers from two other Maker Faires: Austin and Lafayette, respectively. Kudos on the collaborations! It truly takes a village.

Demos and Workshops for Everyone

Head to the Houston Maker Faire website for a full listing of maker exhibits you can expect to see. There’s also a robust schedule of performances, demos, workshops, and talks. Here’s just a small sampling of offerings on the schedule. Be sure to check the online schedule to see times and locations so you can plan your day.

Large Robots in the Arena

Do you want to see 150lb robots compete against one another? Then be sure to check out the FIRST Robotics Competition (FRC), taking place hourly throughout the Faire. Every year, FRC releases a new game that high school students then design, build, program, and drive at competitions.

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Power Tool Drag Racing

This is your chance to build and race a power tool drag racer on a 100-foot track. Build your own or modify one of the demo models to race. There may be nothing faster or funner on the planet than this destructive competition! Presented by Maker Faire Austin.

Check out this fun blast-from-the-past video of Bre Pettis showing how to make a power tool drag racer, on Make:’s old Weekend Projects series:

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Making a Makerspace

There are two different workshops on this topic, the first specifically geared toward educators:

Have you thought of creating a makerspace in your learners’ environment? If you’re curious about the Maker Movement in the educational realm and haven’t jumped in yet, this could be the session for you. Jackie Nowlin, a Region 4 educator with 23 years of educational, will lead this workshop.

Come and learn about what you need to convert your garage, library, or classroom into a makerspace for your community with Make: author Adam Kemp. Adam’s Makerspace Workbench is the essential guide to getting your makerspace up and running.

Amatuer Rocketry + Mission Control

Several rocketry groups, including Tripoli Houston and the Rice University Rocketry Club, will be showing their maker skills in a display of rockets ranging in size from a few pound to over 100lbs. A mobile mission control center will also be setup for viewing.

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Making Displays with Tiny Trains

Model trains are great fun, but they often take up lots of room. Come find out how tiny battery-powered “z-model” trains can be used to make a display in a briefcase, on a cake, or even on clothing! John and Kathryne Buckley have been making train layouts with z-scale trains for over five years. They’re both members of MakerBarn in Magnolia, Texas.

Mosquitos Versus Drones

In this demo, the Swarm Robotics Lab from University of Houston will share techniques for mosquito surveying, using an electrified net mounted on a UAV. Attendees can get a first-hand experience by zapping confetti using a 2,000-volt mini-net!

Cricut Cutting Machine for Makers

Have you ever wondered what a Cricut Cutting Machine is and what projects you might be able to make with it? Learn the basics of the different tools and materials for the Cricut Cutting Machine Explore Air 2 and see a demonstration of the Cricut Design Space software. This demo is presented by John Harbaugh, a Youth Services Librarian at the Parker Williams Branch Library.

Energy: Reduce, Reuse, and Recycle with Lego

Bricks4Kidz workshops introduce the early concepts of physics, engineering, and technology while having fun with Lego bricks. Bring your imagination and come play, build, and learn.

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Sashimi Tabernacle Choir

You won’t find this “performance” on the schedule, but you’ll definitely want to find it at the Faire. Sporting over 250 computer-controlled lobsters, bass, trout, catfish, and sharks, the Sashimi Tabernacle Choir Volvo performs a repertoire ranging from pop tunes to classical opera. All songs are tightly choreographed by an energetic orchestral conductor, The Lobster Formerly Known as Larry. Exceptional solos performances are, of course, provided by The Three Basses: Jose Carperas, Placido Dolphingo, and the incomparable Luciano Ichthyology.

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For all the information you need to attend Maker Faire Houston this upcoming weekend, head to the website!

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I'm a word nerd who loves to geek out on how emerging technology affects the lexicon. I was an editor on the first 40 volumes of MAKE, and I love shining light on the incredible makers in our community. In particular, covering art is my passion — after all, art is the first thing most of us ever made. When not fawning over perfect word choices, I can be found on the nearest mountain, looking for untouched powder fields and ideal alpine lakes.

Contact me at snowgoli@gmail.com or via @snowgoli.

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