Annual Maker Faire showcases future inventors in Denver

Linc Thomas

“Make” magazine started the Maker Faire in San Francisco as a showcase of “makers” who create.

Whether the creations are innovative or classically brilliant, Maker Faire seeks to kindle everyone’s love for hands-on creation. Appropriately named “The Greatest Show & Tell on Earth” the annual Maker Faire took place this past weekend in Denver.

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In 2017, Maker Faire held its first official event in Denver. Jay Ham, a Colorado State University soil and crops sciences professor, presented the “Gardening with Circuit Boards” booth in 2017 and 2018.

“We present projects on soil moisture sensors and irrigation systems,” Ham said. “Water is something very important to the Front Range, so we want to teach people how these microprocessors can help them. At our table, we like to present three audiences: commercial growers, kids and anyone in-between.”

Ham went on to explain that interests in soil sensors and remotely controlled irrigation systems drew interest from traditional farmers, greenhouse growers and even the cannabis industry.

“Everything from master woodworkers, master welders, musicians, sculptors. Last year, there was a woman who 3-D printed violins for underprivileged kids who couldn’t afford $2,000 wooden violins. It really gives back to the community.” -Jay Ham, CSU soil and crop sciences professor

Dylan Casey, a senior in soil and crop sciences, experienced his first Maker Faire in 2017.

“It was different from what I expected,” Casey said. “In its infancy, it was still growing, and this year I expect it to have grown a lot more. I still saw a lot of super cool stuff there. They had robot competitions, ones as small as a cell phone to robots as big as a golf cart with a hammer just smashing TVs.”

Unique makers at this year’s event spanned from vertical farms to steampunk airships. The Paper Fashion Show showcased their 15th annual paper dresses that can actually be worn. Ed Board, an elementary-level circuit board instruction tool, showed kids how to build their own electronics. FarmBox Foods presented their specs for a fully-functional vertical farm coming soon to the Front Range.

Among these few were multiple booths making arts and crafts, and the familiar smell of Christmas wafted through the complex from the vendor selling warm cinnamon-coated almonds.

“People don’t realize how much art is at Maker Faire,” Ham said. “Everything from master woodworkers, master welders, musicians, sculptors. Last year, there was a woman who 3-D printed violins for underprivileged kids who couldn’t afford $2,000 wooden violins. It really gives back to the community.”

Maker Faire is essentially a melting pot of ideas. Prior to the official Maker Faire in Denver in 2017, the Front Range held Mini-Maker Faires in Loveland and sparked an interest among cities in the collaborative effort. Now, Maker Faire embodies a theme of community and low-cost opportunities.

“Most everything at Maker Fair is low cost,” said Ham. “It’s more about encouraging creativity rather than price tags.” 

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Linc Thomas can be reached at entertainment@collegian.com and on Twitter @lincthomas1.