Today was the DTLA Mini Maker Faire (DTLA = downtown Los Angeles) and I went to see who the event would draw. I know there’s plenty of maker activity in the greater Los Angeles area, but it’s such a big area hindered by world-famous traffic congestion that it’s rare for everyone with common interest to gather together in one place. Any group of like-minded people are likely to congregate within several local clusters versus one big Los Angeles group. A call out to gather should be interesting to see.
I was not disappointed! Groups came from all across Los Angeles basin and I saw many interesting things I didn’t know existed. The event took place in the downtown Los Angeles Public Library during regular hours. Maker Faire exhibits were tucked into various rooms scattered throughout the library adding a scavenger hunt into the experience.
My favorite part was seeing so many booths offering hands-on activity for young children to play with. I had expected grown-ups showing off their hobbies, since that’s what I had read about other Maker Faires in the past. I certainly got that, but I was more amused watching little kids engrossed in their own activities so this post is focused on the little ones.
The loudest booth in the courtyard is definitely the reDiscover Center booth. They had a basic woodworking shop set up and kids were building things with real woodworking tools (not plastic pretend tools) under adult supervision.
At the other end of the courtyard, SGVLUG (San Gabriel Valley Linux User’s Group) had multiple activities but the most popular was where kids were given old computer hard drives and the tools to take them apart. It looked like hard drive platters were being extracted to become Christmas tree ornaments.
MatterHackers is a 3D-printing retailer within driving distance, but not close enough for me to have made a visit yet. They had a Ultimaker 3 running, but more interestingly, they had two 3D-printing pens set up for kids to freehand their own plastic creations.
HexLab Makerspace came prepared with laser-cut wood kits of dinosaurs. But they didn’t just hand them out to kids for assembly – they also had paint set out for kids to color their dinosaurs and staffers offered encouragement to the children creating their own masterpieces.
The scattered nature of the event meant some attractions were harder to find than others, which is unfortunate. Getting to the auditorium required walking through a few uninviting-looking hallways that probably caused it to be overlooked by many. Those who entered could see robots for the FIRST robotics competition set up on stage. Kids could get in line to drive one of them on stage.
One of the robots is built to launch balls into the air, a task required in one particular competition. This robot gets all the attention whenever they demonstrated the ball launch mechanism.
This event had fun for tinkers young and old alike. It has made me much more interested in attending more Maker Faires.