Making your mark at Maker Faire San Diego

Robots are cool. Yarn bombing is awesome. Lightsaber battles are not just for “Star Wars” anymore.

There will be many mediums and messages at this year’s edition of Maker Faire San Diego, the celebration of exploration and hands-on creativity being held on Saturday and Sunday in Balboa Park. But all of the exhibits, demonstrations and workshops are united behind one universal theme:

We have met our makers, and they are us.

“A lot of people think that the making movement is all about technology and robotics, and that it is almost unreachable. But I always say that makers are people who create,” said Becky LeBret, communications and press officer for the San Diego Makers Guild.

“A maker is someone who incorporates engineering and design-thinking principals to solve a problem. This could span a wide spectrum of things, from the desire to create homegrown solutions like making beer or propagating succulents to technology solutions like robotics or virtual reality.”

Whether you want to build your own electric car, try your hand at knitting or have the Makers Guild teach you how to make a cardboard combat robot, Maker Faire San Diego has an outlet for you. Even if all you want to create is a really good time. Here’s your guide to making the most of the Faire.

Maker Faire 101

Now in its third year in Balboa Park, Maker Faire San Diego — which is co-sponsored by the San Diego Makers Guild and the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership — will feature more than 250 local and regional makers offering everything from indigo-dyeing workshops and lightsaber combat demonstrations to a step-by-step guide to writing your own blues song.

“I will go through the blues formula a little bit, and then I’ll sing a blues song so people can hear it and know what I’m talking about,” said local jazz musician Sharon DuBois, who will be presenting “Me, You and the Blues” on Saturday and Sunday at the Fleet Science Center. “I’ll teach them how to write two simple lines, and then they can come up and sing. And if they’re too shy, I will sing for them.”

The Faire’s fare can be found in 10 zones dedicated to various creative themes. The venues include the San Diego Natural History Museum (Kids & Education Zone); the San Diego Museum of Man (Human Made Zone); and the Japanese Friendship Garden (“Star Wars” & Beyond Zone). And because makers can’t live on inspiration alone, there will be food trucks.

The Faire runs on Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in Balboa Park. Weekend passes are $30 for attendees age 13 and older and $18 for children if you buy them online today. They are $38 and $23 at the door. Single day passes are $20 and $12 in advance and $28 and $18 at the door.

Discounted tickets are available for active-duty military and students with a valid student ID. Admission includes entry to all of the participating venues. Go to sandiego.makerfaire.com for information and tickets.

Making S.D.

San Diego’s first Maker Faire — which coordinated by the pioneering Travis Good and Katie Rast — was held in December of 2013 in the Del Mar Fairgrounds’ Bing Crosby Hall. While it was dubbed the “San Diego Mini Maker Faire,” the inaugural event drew more than 120 exhibitors and some 5,000 visitors.

The first full-sized Faire was held in Balboa Park in 2015. There were more than 200 makers and about 15,000 attendees. There was also one very overwhelmed robotics booth.

“So many people came that first time, and we only had three or four people working to help all of the students build and code and dissemble and everything,” said Hansol Hong, CEO of the San Diego-based Robolink STEM education company. “It was exciting and chaotic at the same time, but it was really fun.”

The 2016 Maker Faire drew 25,000 people, and organizers expect this year’s attendance to be right up there, too. As for this year’s Robolink booth, it will showcase student projects that will likely include autonomous cars the students built themselves.

Both the booming fair attendance and the increased sophistication of even its younger participants reflect the state of the local makers scene.

From the MakerPlace DIY workshop in the Morena District to the Fab Lab San Diego makers space in the East Village and the Central Library’s Innovation Lab, San Diegans are increasingly into making their own fun. The only rule is that no one gets to decide the rules except you.

“I hope the takeaway from the Maker Faire is that anybody can be a maker,” said Joy Decena, program manager for Fab Lab San Diego, which will have a booth dedicated to green tech and electric vehicles.

“Cooking is making. You will see people crocheting and looming and building cars. It is open to everyone and it covers a gamut of things.”

Hello, humans!

Technically, the Fleet Science Center is the epicenter of the Maker Faire’s Technology Zone. Inside the Fleet, you can check out an LED light painting stick, camp out in the Burning Man Wanderlust Arcade and discuss electronics prototyping with members of the San Diego Arduino Enthusiasts.

But while you are geeking out over the gadgets and lasers, Fleet exhibits project manager Ashanti Davis hopes you’ll consider the sweet spot where technology meets humanity.

One of the Fleet speakers is Karolyn Smith, ​​​​​a local Army veteran and author who has partnered with Fab Lab to create a 3D printed detachable prosthetic leg for Sophia, the amputee cat who helped Smith deal with combat injuries and post-traumatic stress.

And in the process of creating a a leg for Sophia, Smith has learned about coding, fabricating and turning a hopeful dream into a tangible reality.

“Being a maker can be as heartfelt as that,” David said. “You can create anything using your imagination from any materials available to you. The possibilities are endless.”

Twitter: @karla_peterson

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