Maker Faire: The Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth!

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Want to learn how to build catapults? Robots? How to illustrate comic books or use design software? Visit a Maker Space, or attend a Maker Faire!

Barnes & Noble hosts three Mini Maker Faire events this weekend, at their stores in Warwick, Smithfield and Middletown. Held inside the stores, the free events offer a variety of activities and demonstrations for the whole family.

“The Barnes & Noble Mini Maker Faire is an opportunity to meet local makers and tap into your creative side, whether your interest is electrical, musical or visual,” said Katie Rendine, Barnes & Noble’s Community Business Development Manager, who is organizing activities at the Warwick store. “The Mini Maker Faire collaboration stations give customers a chance to discover new technology and explore new art forms, while learning how to utilize this in their home, classroom or work.”

Nationally, the Maker movement is a group of tech-infused Do-It-Yourself (DIY) types - inventors, computer hackers, tinkerers and designers - who share their ideas and projects with the community. Building on the work of a long line of American entrepreneurs and innovators (Ben Franklin, George Washington Carver, Samuel Slater and Ida B. Wells) and fueled by newly affordable technology such as 3D printers, desktop machine tools and design software, Maker spaces are becoming popular learning and teaching spaces in schools, libraries and community centers across the country, providing a place where people can fuse technology with their own interests, creating and building projects they find meaningful while learning new skills in a supportive, collaborative environment. The Maker movement places technology in the context of useful tools and interesting projects, creating learning experiences that make technology something that adds sense, beauty or fun to daily life. Locally, both the Cranston Public Library C-Lab and the Warwick Public Library’s Idea Studio have 3D printers and design software the public can use, and organizations like the Rhode Island Computer Museum, Tri-Tech Pathways, and Rhode Island Students of the Future create opportunities for children to develop their engineering, computing and innovation chops through engaging, hands-on projects.

A Maker Faire celebrates those who are creating eclectic art and technology while fostering a community of openness and innovation. Ranging from up-close and personal events with a dozen or so makers such as the events at the Barnes & Noble stores, to the World Maker Faire at the New York Hall of Science, which on an early October weekend attracted over 100,000 spectators, a Maker Faire is a family friendly showcase of resourcefulness and creativity, dubbed the “greatest show (and tell) on earth.”

“I’m pleased to see Barnes & Noble hosting Maker Faire events in stores here and nationwide, it helps bring the spirit of making to broader communities,” said Brian Jepson, co-founder of the Mini Maker Faire in Rhode Island, an organization that draws thousands of people to its annual events in Providence and Newport every year. “It’s not surprising that Mini Maker Faire events have taken off in Rhode Island. The American Industrial Revolution began in Rhode Island when Samuel Slater snuck out of Great Britain in disguise in 1789 and founded Slater Mill. It’s where sewing machine inventor George Henry Corliss came in 1844. He later made a steam engine so efficient that European manufacturers produced knockoffs, affixing Corliss’ name to their counterfeits. Rhode Islanders have been making and innovating for over 200 years.”

That Maker Faire and Maker Spaces cultivate collaboration and often lead to new inventions and manufacturing methods was noted by President Obama during a speech celebrating the annual National Week of Making: “Today’s DIY is tomorrow’s ‘Made in America.' These products are examples of a revolution that can help us create new jobs and industries for decades to come.”

The Mini Maker Faire at the Warwick store will include a Make Workshop, an educational expo space where people can experience virtual reality, 3D printing, coding, and more. Booksellers and makers will demo some of the leading products in modern technology on both days.

In the Make & Collaborate Space, folks will have the chance to explore hands on projects, designing, handcrafting and constructing with products including littleBits, LEGO and Brackitz.

A variety of artists and tinkerers will be featured in the Meet the Makers Space. From 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Nolan Taylor, Brian Rose, Joe Marhoffer, Frankie Washington and Tim Jones will discuss the latest trends and technique in comic illustration. Staff from The Center for Dynamic Learning will explore physics with cotton ball catapults and foaming cauldrons while volunteers from Rhode Island Students of the Future will lead LEGO building and coding activities with LEGO WeDo kits, demo the LEGO Ev3 system, and answer questions about how to start a FIRST® LEGO League or FIRST LEGO League Jr. team. From 11 a.m.-1 p.m., staff rom the Cranston Public Library will offer 3D Printing Experimentation, and from 1-3 p.m. they will host Minecraft open play.

On Sunday, Jepson will demonstrate design tools for 3D printing, Rhode Island Students of the Future will lead hands-on activities with the LEGO WeDo platform and talk about how to start a FIRST LEGO League robotics team, and the RI Computer Museum will host a learning lab with Arduino and Raspberry Pi systems.

“Watching the spark in the eyes of kids and adults who are learning and creating is thrilling. There is nothing like watching people explore new art forms and technology,” said Rendine.

The Mini Maker Faire is Saturday, November 5 from 11 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, November 6 from 12 noon-5 p.m. at the Barnes & Noble Booksellers at these locations: Warwick Centre, 1350 Bald Hill Road, Warwick, 02886; The Crossing at Smithfield, 371 Putnam Pike, Smithfield, RI 02917; and Middletown Village, 1311 West Main Road, Middletown, RI 02842. On November 5, the Cranston Public Library will also host a book fair fundraiser at the Barnes & Noble in Warwick from 10 am to 9 pm. Library supporters can either present a voucher which they can pick up at any Cranston Public Library location or download at http://cranstonlibrary.org/featured-story/2016/10/12/barnes-noble-bookfair-fundraiser or they can just mention Cranston Public Library at the register and a percentage of the net sale will be donated to the library. The funds support the Jr. Friends of the Library and teen programming.

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