Outreach at a MakerFaire

Team 6658 had a booth at the Los Angeles Maker Faire yesterday even though we didn’t know about these Maker Faire events 4 weeks ago. We rapidly got signed up and slowly learned of its size. This is Los Angeles so everything gets big but there was 10,000+ people and 165 booths. We had a great sidewalk location with a double booth. While our booth was super plain, it was all about the robot. We had little kids driving the robot (limited to 25% speed). A team member operated the arm and we had them pickup cubes and put them on a pedestal. Whenever the robot was running we had 20-40 people gathered round. I’m told that among the numerous booths we had the largest crowds. We had tons of generic little kid outreach with people across Los Angeles county. Not sure where any of that energy goes but we did have several specific contacts more directly relevant to our team

The event was organized by LA Public library and we made an important connection there. They have a bunch of mega-lego robot kits and are looking for someone to use them. They would give us a room and pay us to run a series of events through the summer. Whoa! We’ll see if we can pull that off. At the very least its great to have a contact with the library, which does far far more than just books.

Other connections where we met:
An 10th grader interested in starting an FRC team at a nearby town
An FRC alumni who moved to LA and may be interested in mentoring with us
An alumni from our team that we haven’t seen in years that may be interested in mentoring

These Maker Faire events happen in many cities and teams should give them a try and see what kind of connections you make.

7 Likes

We were a routine exhibitor at the Detroit Maker Faire at Henry Ford, but they’ve shut it down because the Maker Faire company went bankrupt. Good to hear that it is still running in some form.

4 Likes

If the auto show wasn’t so expensive for sq footage or if Automate at Cobo wasn’t in a month or two maybe FIM could get a spot? And bring 1 practice field and invite local teams for time slots.

They do this at Selfridge for the air show

1 Like

That is great to hear! We run the previous years robot for parades and festivals…with limited success. They are bad…it just draws less in. The hardest part is explaining to kids and parents that coding, mechanical, electrical pays way more than sports…and regardless of who you are…you could get some or all of college paid for.

Athletics is a pyramid…wide at the bottom, narrow at the top. Which shows the actual potential of advancement to the next level.

STEAM/STEAM is a rectangle…wide at the bottom, wide at the top.

Are there pinnacles…sure. Plateaus…sure. However, there are no limits as to who can do STEM/STEAM…athletics…not so much.

My team used to present at our local Mini Maker Faire every year alongside some FTC teams and Neutrino. I’m not sure of why they stopped, but I very much hope they go back at some point, since it was was a very good outreach opportunity and was a lot of fun for the drivers to operate the robot in a casual setting like that. It also holds a special place in my heart since I was recruited onto the team from the event in 2014, and I’ll always be thankful for it.

Highlights include:

  • 3928’s 2016 robot passing a ball to ours and then we scored it
  • Our 2015 robot playing with the 2014 ball while they were changing batteries
  • Working together to make a stack of 2018 cubes (and accidentally breaking Neutrino’s intake in the process…)

Here’s what the setup was like:

6 Likes

Actually, WE do that at the Selfridge air show :laughing:. We organize the robot event and invite teams.

The LA Maker Faire has evolved a lot and has had FIRST teams a few times in the past. I organized a group of a few FRC and FTC teams back when it was the “Downtown LA Mini Maker Faire” (also organized by the LA Public Library): Join 1836 at the Downtown LA Mini Maker Faire!

The library folks were super excited to have us back in 2017. I wish I had been able to help folks establish more of a relationship, but I’m glad you’re back at it. Both the library and Make have potential to be great partners.

I’m not saying I’m a bit grumpy that we are the closest team to Selfridge and get left off the invite list (almost) every year… We got invited one time over text two days before the event and couldn’t get students together in enough time.

We did the Long Island MakerFaire a few other teams last year (I remember 870 and 2869 were there, but there were at least 2 others as well). We set up half a field, and showed off our bots, did some mock matches, and let some of the kids drive the robots. Definitely a great opportunity for outreach.

1 Like

Great to hear some other experiences. The Maker Faire seems like quite an operation with many events all over the place. I’m sure the experience varies wildly. One of my goals is to figure out how to find value in the immensity of LA. We are an LA city school team which means we are instantly burdened by tons of bureaucracy. I’m looking for the exchange. How do we get value out of this city and school district that has massive resources? This connection into the Public Library is a great step into that.

1 Like

I really wish they’d bring that back to the Henry Ford. That was a great summer trip for the students.

1 Like

This topic was automatically closed 365 days after the last reply. New replies are no longer allowed.