Maker Faire: Where Mini-Innovators Play
Kids who love show and tell are going to scream in delight at Maker Faire where you’ll discover electrifying music shows, how to make a giant soap bubble and tons of hands-on activities. This creative weekend (May 17-18) will inspire your little scientist, hobbyist or innovator. All you need are tickets, a camera and our guide to making the most out of your day.
What Is Maker Faire?
With 3D printing, STEM based education, eco-friendly products and innovative services on the rise, Maker Faire is how you want to be in the know. Plus, this is a great way to learn about your community and the market ecosystem that your kiddo is growing in. So stay ahead of the curve by attending Maker Faire. This community convention runs from May 17-18 from 10am – 8pm on Sat., and 10am – 6pm on Sun.
Lucky for little ones who get tired easily, strollers and backpacks are allowed. Fill up on water and snacks because as your tot runs around, they’ll be wanting snacks to refuel, and your bag will definitely get lighter throughout the day.
Download the Maker Faire app to stay updated on all the makers, exhibits, and programs. The app even gives you the ability to personally schedule your day so your kid doesn’t miss out on the R2D2s (okay, maybe that’s more dad’s thing). If you’ve downloaded the app last year, you’ll need to delete and re-download for the most updated version.
How To Get There
This year, getting to Maker Faire is easier than ever. Hop on the BART, Caltrain, bus or bike. There are free shuttles to the convention from Millbrae BART, Oracle Plaza, Crossroads Shopping Center and the College of San Mateo. In fact, the Hillsdale Caltrain stop is only 10-minute walk.
Consider a car share. Plug in the College of San Mateo Parking Lot (1700 West Hillsdale Blvd, San Mateo), Crossroads Parking Lot (1875 S. Grant St, San Mateo) or Oracle Plaza into your GPS. There are shuttles that go back and forth from the faire. Just remember which color shuttle you rode, so you can get back! Check online for travel details, from parking availability to shuttle locations.
What To Do
Visit the site to bookmark which categories interest you the most so you can maximum your time at the faire (the app helps a lot with this as well). Families might especially love the DIY Projects, Food, For Kids Under 5, Kids & Family, and community of Young Makers. Scroll on for our favorite picks!
For the Hands-On Kids
You and your kid have to come home with at least one item they’ve made at the faire. Kids can build a Guardian Cadet Armor set out of cardboard with crafteeo, create 3D models of cells with GalaxyGoo (which can be taken home and sliced open for super cool effects!), or even learn how to make the perfect dip for chips to go with your next party.
Photo by Christal Yuen
For Kids Who Love a Good Show
Love to see science and innovation in action? Don’t miss out the performance highlights that’ll have your kid oo-ing and ah-ing every single second. Adam Savage of Mythbuster fame will be there Sun. at 11am on the West Lot, where you can also stick around to check out the Life Size Mousetrap, and Coke Zero & Mentos explosions! Remember to attend Arc Attack, an “electrifying” performance of live music and high-tech wizardry.
Photo by Christal Yuen
For the Parents Who Loves Hacks
If you can get your babe to nap on your lap (or have your partner take them to a DIY workshop), then you might want to sit in on one of these enlightening talks for parents. Check out Sarah Hodsdon’s Mommy talk on “carving out time” for deliberate play and purposeful making. Also on Sat., learn how to make a makers of your kid at an early age with Jennifer Turliuk. Or if Sun. is more your day, sit in with Legendary Kid Maker, Super-Awesome Sylvia and her pal, Gary Stager, for an inspiration talk on getting kids to make, tinker and engineer. Avoid buying a new computer after your tot’s spilled juice on it after listening in on how to make your own computer.
Extra Fun for the Kids
Kids activities are in abundance at Maker Faire. Take them to see how marshmallows are made and then have them design and build their own marshmallow shooter! Visit Junktopia to show your kids how they can up-cycle, re-imagine and re-invent unwanted toys or tools. Many of the Maker Faire projects and exhibitions can be easily recreated at home, like this solar-dyed yarns and fibers project! And don’t forget to check out the LEGO robotics — after all, what’s innovation without LEGO?
You’re welcome to bring your own water and light snacks if your kid has dietary needs, but full-on lunches are not allowed. Thankfully, there’s plenty to eat at the yummy food stands, be prepared for long lines for more complicated eats like African food vs hot dogs and popcorn.
There are about two to three bathrooms in each lot or space, but they are usually around the entrance or across the other side of the room. We suggest making a potty break before letting your tot race through the lots. Nothing is worse than waiting in line and having to go when it’s almost your turn to play!
Photo by Christal Yuen
Buy the tickets online to enjoy early bird discounts and avoid long lines at the door.
Advance: $60/adult weekend pass; $30/advance youth weekend pass for kids 4-12; $32.50/adult single day; $17.50/kids single day; free for children 3 and under.
At the Door: $40/adult; $30/youth 13-21; $25/children 4-12; kids 3 and under are free.
Special Package: $100/Sunday Family Pass of 5 people (entry 10am – 1pm only).
San Mateo Event Center
1346 Saratoga Dr
San Mateo, Ca 94403
The event is going to happen rain or shine, but if you find yourself unavailable, you can check out Maker Faire’s live stream here: makerfaire.com/live.
Check out these fun home experiments that you and your kid can do in preparation for Maker Faire!
— Laure Latham & Christal Yuen
All photo courtesy of Bridgette Vanderlaan unless indicated otherwise