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Delivering the DIY Mindset at the Detroit Maker Faire

By September 19, 2019General

“Learning by doing” comes from the philosophy of John Dewey, a philosophy closely resembling that of the Maker Movement.  In 2005, Dale Dougherty launched Make® Magazine, a magazine and website that brought Makers from around the world to one community.  In 2006, Make launched what has become a family-friendly fair known as Maker Faire. 

Dubbed as the ‘Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth,’ the half technology – half craftsmanship event can be found in cities around the world.  In 2017, over 190 “Mini Maker Faires”  were independently produced, and over 30 larger-scale Featured Maker Faire’s have taken place around the world, including Tokyo, Rome, Shenzhen, Seoul, Paris, Berlin, Barcelona, Detroit, San Diego, and Kansas City. 

On July 27 and 28, Detroit, Michigan celebrated their 10th Maker Faire anniversary!  The event was held at the Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation, where they celebrated the talents of Makers, artists and designers.  In 2017, Co-founders Rich, Curt and Bob attended Kansas City Maker Faire, representing Make48, and this year co-founder Tom Gray spent the weekend in Detroit celebrating the 10th anniversary where he met with the founder of Make, Dale Dougherty.  

Why is Making so important to our culture?  Tom remarked that, “Making allows you to be creative, and with the changing technology and access to Makerspaces in schools, colleges and corporate businesses, it’s given a equal chance for anyone to participate. The cross pollination of digital fabrication and hands on traditional making can allow for many more inventions and projects to be realized.”

Ingenuity and Innovation At Detroit Maker Faire

*Image courtesy of the Henry Ford


There was something for everyone at the packed Maker Faire including the 40 foot Rock-O-Plane Ferris wheel, a replica of the “Mystery Machine”, custom-made lightsabers, robotics, go-kart racing, chainmail making, 3d printing, demonstrations, exhibits and performances from engaging artists to spark the imagination.

Tom was consumed by the amount of activities that took place during the 2-day affair. Some of his favorites included, “the ‘not so traditional’ Pine Car derby from the folks at Maker Works.  Lincoln Electric had their hands-on welding simulator truck, and the tent showcasing blacksmiths, weaving and glass molding, got a popular audience.  As always there were many Makers showing and selling the finest curated goods.”  

*Image courtesy of the Henry Ford

Writer, actor and children’s literacy advocate, LeVar Burton served as their celebrity emcee throughout the festival weekend.






Maker Faire celebrates the diversity of making and introduction to Science, Technology, Engineering, Math and Art and it’s where young Makers can start learning.  “The younger they start with making (or inventing), the better their chances of getting to their career of choice.” Tom said. “Companies look at those that can make with both skills of digital Fabrication and hands on Making, and these folks are becoming ‘in demand’ for industries with skill shortage.”  Creativity, an essential aspect for youngsters, helps students use critical thinking when approached with challenges.  “Being creative and building your concept that was once in your mind, is a talent where all students can start early.”

*Image courtesy of the Henry Ford

Recently Makes Media, Inc. made headlines when they announced that they were ceasing operations in June of this year,  to many Maker’s and fan’s dismay.  Tom told me that, “I understand and can see the Maker Faire continuing to build and thrive. Many folks out there want to support the movement and I trust Dale will work through and find the best model that fits.”  Maker Faire’s are continuing on in some cities, such as Detroit’s did this year and Kanas City did in June.  As they say, the show must go on. 

“The main issue is that he created a movement and passionate following for those that love Making, (Either the makers or those that attend the faire.)”  Tom continued,  “…. In my opinion Maker Fair should position with community at the top of the priority list and work with creative partnerships to continue the maker movement.”

The family-friendly fair has something for everyone.  An inspirational event, where you can experience the crazy and unique all in one action-packed weekend.  To see a list of Maker Faire’s around the world visit Makerfaire.com and see the wonders captured by the The Henry Ford at the Detroit Maker Faire.


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