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A Look Back at Our Last Maker Faire: Thanks for Coming!

A very belated recap of the fourth annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, a wonderful day for Chicago’s largest celebration of learning, STEAM, and whimsy!

Outside, all sorts of wonderful makers showed off their skills. The weather couldn’t have been more perfect.

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The Official Schurz High School NHS Ice Creamery

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Meet Chicago’s Hackerspace All-Stars: PS:One, SSH:C, W88

This year, Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire is excited to present the three largest hackerspaces in the Chicago area! We sat down with them to learn more.

Workshop 88Workshop 88Workshop 88 is a hackerspace and makerspace located in Glen Ellyn that provides a space for people to come together as a community and work on amazing projects. They offer a variety of tools for its members to use such as 3D printers, a CNC machine, a lathe, and more. They are even thinking of opening an amateur radio station in the space. But Workshop 88 is more than just the tools at its disposal. Jim Williams, a member of Workshop 88, says that it’s all about the community of people with similar interests who have a variety of knowledge coming together to share. It’s the people who are willing to help each other out, learn, and create delightful things.

One big yearly project is badge building. For the past 3 years, Workshop 88 makes Arduino-based LED badges that make the conference space into a game. Throughout the conference space, there are beacons that can transmit to the badge that lights up the LED and generates points. It’s a great way to get folks to explore the entire conference. Workshop 88 works together to design, build, and test these badges. In addition to their own projects, Workshop 88 hosts workshops and classes for libraries and classrooms. It provides them an opportunity to share their knowledge with people to get them excited about making. The goal is to have kids make things that get them interested in electronics and technology.

For Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, they are going to demonstrate some of their members’ current projects. A hacked Roomba vacuum cleaner. A radio receiver built from scratch. An RGB LED wall display that is controlled by a joystick—uniting art and technology will hopefully foster conversation and ideas!

Southside Hackerspace: ChicagoSSHC photoSouthside Hackerspace: Chicago (SSH:C) is a hackerspace located in Pilsen committed to educational outreach, and strives to become a community resource for people to learn and exchange ideas. This hackerspace just turned three–Happy Birthday! They’ve hosted a variety of classes and workshops from basic soldering to Raspberry Pi within their space and out. Recently, participants got to check out an electron scanning microscope at the event as well. SSH:C attended events all around Chicago including libraries, schools, and other maker spaces to establish relationships. They plan on expanding their soldering tutorial into additional classes to teach programming. They also have been communicating with teachers all around Chicago and its suburbs about starting their own spaces for their students.

In addition to outreach, SSH:C has been hosting a variety of educational and social events for its membership. In the past year, SSH:C has partnered with Pumping Station 1 on a Cryptography event on a monthly basis. It’s intended for people who are interested in cryptography and privacy online. The class moves back and forth between the two spaces, further encouraging collaboration between members of both hackerspaces. SSH:C and PS1 also held a nine week Business Planning workshop “Creative Entrepreneurship” led by Lisa Sonora Beam that focused on how to take an idea into a marketable idea.

In addition to the educational programming, SSH:C has introduced monthly movie and gaming nights. In January, they held a fantastic holiday party that allowed members and friends to showcase their work including laser-cut origami, a tri-copter and much more. But SSHC also have 3D printers, a new vinyl cutter, and many more tools to help people build amazing things!

For CNS Maker Faire, their members will showcase their work including a kinetic sculpture. They plant to have a hands-on activity for the kids and parents alike. SSH:C is growing and want to engage with people and other organizations about their work. Want to know more? Attend a weekly meeting Wednesday nights at 7:30.

Pumping Station: One

PS1 Photo Credit Everett Wilson

Pumping Station:One (PS:1) located in the Northside of Chicago brings together people with a variety of skills to develop a thriving and sharing community. Chicago’s first hackerspace, PS:1 has been around for six years. The space has a variety of tools including bandsaws, a CNC router, and many more.

However, it’s more than just a place to work on your projects. Members hold a variety of classes based on their interests. It’s a fairly independent process; someone decides there is a need so they make a class. There are classes centered around robots, beer making, wine tasting, leather working, and coding. As noted before, they also have been collaborating with SSH on the Cryptography class each month.

At the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, they are going to teach people how to make a Noise-o-Tron. They debuted this last year at the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire. The Noise-o-Tron is an optical theremin that does not require soldering. People build it by pushing leads through the board and twisting them. It only takes a few minutes to put it together. They have also created a “Color-O-Tron” version where people can make a game that simulates the old Simon game. These projects are both a fun way to talk about electronics while people can make something simple and fun. We can’t wait to make music with our optical Theremins!

PS1 has an open house on Tuesday nights at 8pm.

Meet the Maker: The Laboratory

Will you survive the Zombie apocalypse? Want to master potions like Harry Potter? Then check out The Laboratory at CNS Maker Faire!The laboratoryThe Laboratory just opened its doors in Bucktown this past March, and is run by experienced teachers Ed and Amy Kang. The mission of The Laboratory is to revolutionize how science is taught. Too often science classes focus on content through rote memorization instead of exploring how science encompasses everything. Amy and Ed want to show kids that science learning can be fun and a way for kids to express themselves. They are big proponents of STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.

At The Laboratory, Amy and Ed offer a variety of classes aimed at grades K-6 with future plans for expansion. Classes combine science and art and fun! Kids learn how to make robots, potions, catapults, bath balls, and so much more. “Science with a context” means kids see how science is part of their lives already through TV shows, movies, and more, they get excited about it. The Laboratory space is also quite versatile. Embracing the DIY spirit, they built much of the furniture in the space. Ed explained that this wasn’t something he had a lot of experience in before. He said, “I learned to use a table saw, drill to build…it’s a testament to the fact that anyone can build spaces. If I can do it, so can you!”

Ed and Amy are super excited about CNS Maker Faire. In true DIY spirit, they are still planning their activities. One of their students may come out and show off their new skills. Maybe they’ll facilitate a project for other students. They plan on having an activity that embodies their teaching philosophy: science with a story. Come check out The Laboratory at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire!

Meet the Maker: YOUmedia

Make a circuit with dough! Make music with circuits and magnets! Join YOUmedia at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire and learn how!

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YOUmedia, a program run through the Chicago Public Library since 2009, has now expanded to 11 libraries throughout the city. YOUmedia provides spaces for teens and tweens to drop by and learn in an out-of-school context, connecting them with technology and resources to further their personal and even professional interests. Recently YOUmedia and Chicago Public Library Teen Services started First Saturdays Careers in Focus to allow teenagers, ages 14-18, to learn about careers in a variety of fields from engineering to music. This summer, they are planning to kick off a new teen summer challenge that will involve discovery and creation. Stay tuned for more information!

For Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, YOUmedia has two amazing activities planned. Julie Koslowsky, YOUmedia Outreach Coordinator, wants people to try something new and get excited about circuits and technology. These projects show that electronics does not have to be an expensive or even high tech activity. (1) “Littlebits,” a project for all ages, are simple circuits that connect via magnets, a power source, and other parts. You can make music, attach a fan, and more! (2) “Squishy Circuits” are conductive play-dough! With a few simple ingredients­—water, flour, salt and lemon juice—in the right order, the dough can become conductive or insulated. Plug in a power source and put strategic LED lights to create fantastic pieces!

We can’t wait to see YOUmedia at CNS Maker Faire!

Meet the Maker: Trossen Robotics

hros1chassiBigDid you ever want to walk a robot on a leash? Or learn how to make a robotic arm to do your bidding? Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire is excited to welcome back Trossen Robotics, a company committed to helping people learn about robotics and electronics, for a third year!

Trossen Robotics started in the late 2000s selling robot parts, but they’ve grown into designing and even manufacturing their own open source robotic kits, such as crawlers and humanoids. Grounded in a belief that community is critical–people can always use help when building things, experimenting, and sharing their experiences–Trossen wants to foster a community of builders through forums, blogs, and other support networks. And they want people to realize that anyone can learn how to make robots!

You do not have to be an engineer or have millions of dollars to build a robot. The field of robotics has something for everyone–from those interested in electronics and engineering to non-STEM fields like aesthetics and design–and Trossen is committed to helping everyone from the casual hobbyist to the university student working on a robot for their thesis.DFmkRFIAt this year’s Faire, Trossen will be showing off some of their amazing robots. People will have the opportunity to play with a variety of different robots, and even have fun walking a crawler robot on a leash. They will also be displaying their “voodoo robot,” with a large robotic arm and a smaller one that works like a controller, as well as some autonomous robots that use sensors to navigate the world.

Kyle Granat at Trossen Robotics told us that they are really excited about Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire this year and explained that people often leave the Faire in awe: not the kind of awe you would see at a car show or technology show, but the feeling of awe upon realizing that they can do some of the amazing things that see for  themselves. We look forward to seeing them there!