Last weekend, an expected 6000 makers, crafters, DIYenthusiasts, and tinkerers gathered for an event billed “the greatest show (and tell) on Earth” the 5th Seattle Mini MakerFaire (SMMF).
The Seattle Mini Maker Faire is a smaller independently organized version of the official Maker Faire put on by Make magazine and first held in San Mateo, CA in 2005. Full-scale Maker Faires are now hosted annually in 23 cities across the world, including the flagship World Maker Faire in New York City, which sees nearly 100,000 attendees. Seattle represents one of over 120 cities to host an independently run Mini Maker Faire.
HiveBio brought a splash of DIY-biology to the 2016 Faire, just as it has done every year since the start of the SMMF in 2011. Faire-goers learned some easy laboratory techniques as they performed their own strawberry DNA extraction, mashing up fruit and adding household detergent and salt to separate the goopy genetic material from the rest of the plant (strawberries are especially good subjects for this experiment as they are octoploid – they have 8 copies of chromosomes – making their DNA plentiful).
Visitors to the HiveBio booth were also able to dive into the world of the invisible, building their own microscope using simple wooden pieces, screws, and a smartphone. The table provided several types of cells from onion to algae for curious minds to investigate under the magnification of their own cell phones. Both of these activities were available for purchase as take-home kits, and are also commonly taught at HiveBio as classes for the broader public.
Highlights of this year’s SMMF included the booths hosted by maker spaces like the SoDo Makerspace or the Pratt Arts center, educational stations like the paper-rocket station by Pacific Science Center’s Tinker Tank, a plethora of 3D printer ventures, professional and industrial representatives, and art- and robotics-based DIY projects. More novel displays included the Walking Beast, an 11-foot tall, seven-ton mechanical robot which also shoots fire; several Daleks and a home-made K9 unit, paying homage to cult favorite Dr. Who; and the 3D Selfie Mobile Maker Space, which translates images of Faire-goers to a 3D-printed bust of their likeness. Overall, 108 groups represented their projects, products, or science at the 2016 Seattle Mini Maker Faire.
The Seattle Mini Maker Faire takes place in September every year at the Experience Music Project Museum at Seattle Center. More information is available at the Seattle Mini Maker Faire website.