Category Archives: Uncategorized

Meet the Maker: Artology – Colossal Squid

Colossal Squid

Watch out! The Colossal Squid is coming to Mini-Maker Faire! Join Carl Schurz students as they work on making a colossal squid out of plastic bags. Students fuse plastic bags together to create body parts for a life size, anatomically correct, and inflatable colossal squid. When completed, it’ll be about 20 feet long, and 4-6 feet wide.  It’ll tour schools, park districts and more. Along the way, students learn about this mysterious animal that changes color and texture that lives near Antarctica.


The project, known as Artology – is a collaboration between Carl Schurz School and Columbia College’s Center for Community Arts Partnerships (CCAP).  The program is taught by Dee Hotchner of Discover the Depths, Laura Christman of CCAP and Lauren Bauknecht, a Schurz teacher. The project gives students a scientific background in marine biology and teaches students the importance of the ocean and the threats the oceans currently face. Simply put, humanity cannot survive without the ocean. The project also educates students about art methodology and how to manipulate recyclable materials into art pieces and educational tools.


Join fellow students and volunteers to watch them work on constructing body parts at Mini-Maker Faire. Come by and learn more about the amazing colossal squid!


Meet the Maker: Bookbinding Words


It’s not everyday you make art with complete strangers. That’s what the Bookbinding and Papermaking art project wants you to do. At Mini-Maker Faire, people can learn how to make Flexagons and play the Exquisite Corpse. A Flexagon is  “a piece of paper that can be folded in different ways, revealing and rearranging page order.” When completed, the Flexagons will be a central part of the writing and drawing game called “The Exquisite Corpse.” This is how it’s played. Everyone gets to write or draw something small on a side of the Flexagon. Then the Flexagon is passed to the next person who draws or writes something on a blank side, without seeing the preceding artwork. The Flexagon is passed on and on until it is completed. At the end of the game, the group will have collectively created funny, profound poetry and art pieces. It’s about collectively creating art.

The project is a collaborative project is part of Columbia College’s Center for Community Partnerships at Carl Schurz School. It is a collaborative project between FLOWetry, led by teaching artist Maya Odim, and Printing Sans Ink, led by teaching artist Trisha Martin.  FLOWetry teaches poetry and performance art while Printing Sans Ink focuses on bookbinding, such as papermaking, paper folding and more. Come join them at Mini-Maker Faire to make your own Flexagon and play the Exquisite Corpse!

Meet the Maker: DIY Circus

DIY CircusDo wondrous things. That’s the philosophy behind Scott Priz’s DIY Circus. He believes that theatre isn’t just something trained people do on stage;  theatre can be made by anyone anywhere.  Everyone has an imagination; it’s just a matter of using it and having fun in the process. You don’t need a stage for any of that (though it is nice to have one). DIY Circus also believes in the importance of audience in all theatre. There doesn’t need to be a fourth wall. All actors should involve the audience and make them a co-conspirator in the performance.

Members of DIY Circus have put on their own shows throughout Chicago, even starting on a homemade stage in someone’s backyard. Today, members of DIY Circus collaborate with Pocket Guide to Hell to put on historical recreations and events in bars and parks throughout the city, such as the First Ward Ball and Chicago Children’s TV Shows.

DIY Circus is excited to return to Mini-Maker Faire. All day, DIY Circus will put on charming acrobatic performances by students from local circus school, the Aloft Loft. DIY Circus will hold workshops for kids where they learn to build scenes, learn about the structure of a play and then act. There will also be a puppet performance with a puppet making workshop. Come on by and release the inner circus performer within you!

Meet the Maker: Community Glue Workshop


Community Glue Workshop wants to help you fix your stuff. Or better yet,
help you learn how to fix it and assist others with their broken items. The basic idea is this: people show up to monthly events, usually at Ally Brisbin’s café Kitchen Sink, with their broken items and they are paired up with volunteer “fixers” who help to repair the item. It turns the famous Brave New World axiom on its head: Mending, not Spending. The group tries to fix a wide range of items such as toys, clothes, lamps and guitars. They once even fixed a SuperSoaker.

Ally Brisbin and Carla Bruni founded the group about a year ago with the aim of building community and encouraging sustainability. Ally believes the group helps bring neighbors together and rely on each other. Moreover, people get in touch with their own skills and possessions. Carla focuses on the sustainability aspect of the group.  Too many people, even environmentally concerned ones, focus too much on disposal of old products and purchase of “green” products to deal with the greater environmental problem. Carla explains that we really can’t just spend our way out of the problem. That’s why repair is so critical.

Community Glue Workshop is excited to set up shop at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire. Bring your broken stuff to get fixed at the Community Glue Workshop at Maker Faire:

  • busted jewelry
  • upset clothing
  • broken lamps and tools
  • musical instruments who have lost their voice
  • other interesting tchotchke to figure out and fix!

Meet the Maker: Build-a-Blinkie

“This is where you get to build one of those LED flashing things,” returning makers Dwayne and Dale introduce their traveling workshop. You start with the kit, and use the tools provided in the maker area. If you’ve always wanted to learn to solder, this is the place to go!  When you are done, you will have a working blinkie. The entire process only takes about 15 minutes, depending on your skill level!  Blinkie Techs will be on hand to help you debug any problems.  (Children are encouraged to build their parent’s blinkie, but the parent has to stick around and learn about the process.)

This year, Dwayne and Dale will offer FREE “Atomic Musecon” kits for attendees, sponsored by the folks at MuseCon (pictured).atomic_blink_redIn case you’re wondering, they will also offer their full range of 2DKits from beginners to advanced.  (Prices range from $5 – $80.)

Call for Makers Extended until April 30th!


Have you always wanted to show people that awesome thing you made that time?  Or that cool thing you do?  If you’ve been thinking about being a maker at the second annual Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside, now is the time to act!  The Call for Makers has been extended for one more weekend, until April 30th!


Check out our list of last year’s makers for inspiration.  Or bring something Chicago hasn’t yet seen!

Questions? Contact us at

Call for Makers Now Open for 2013!

We’re back!

Chicago Knights present Parker

Chicago Knights present Parker

Join us as Schurz High School celebrates more than 100 years of history by taking bold new steps into the future of teaching and learning!  Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire returns at a new (hopefully warmer) time!  For those of you who are new to Maker Faire, it is the largest celebration of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) in the world.  Maker Faire is a venue for inventors, technophiles, artists, crafters, mad scientists, hackers, musicians, and anyone who makes cool things and want to show others how it’s done.


Reserve your maker table at Schurz High School on Saturday, May 18, 2013.  We will be accepting applications until April 23.  There is no cost to makers to present and it’s FREE for your friends to attend!  Makers will also be featured on our website and advertisements.

Questions? Contact us at

Craftsman Tools Interviews Our Makers

Thank you, Craftsman, for visiting Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside!  Check out some of the Makers they met, including Matthew Mead’s DIY Segway and Charles Festa’s LED Hancock Tower.

Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire Wrap Up

Catapulting into action at Schurz High School

The Chicago Northside Mini-Maker Faire that took place Saturday, April 21st was a frenzy of action. With over fifty makers or maker groups in attendance Schurz High School was overrun with action, robots, and plenty of discovery. Outside the weather was ideal for “blasting nerds” (National Honor Society students) with water balloons, flinging vegetables skyward or meeting makers from all over the city. Inside the hallways were ready for hoop-sinking robots, circuitry soldering, lock picking, and an afternoon of creation.

MSIs Fab Lab Yoda

Spanning the front yard, cafeteria, and gym at Schurz, the Faire was alive with action. In the cafeteria, the Wanger Family Fab Lab housed at the Museum of Science and Industry was up and running as people began to filter in. They brought plenty of gadgets with them from the Museum of Science and Industry – printers, 3-D scanners, a robot insect, and freshly 3-D printed bracelets. We talked about their programming which is ramping up for what is sure to be a busy summer season.

This is how a lock works.

Toward center of the cafeteria, the Lock Pick Village set up shop. They offered individual and group classes on the mechanics behind how locks work and how to pick them with some simple tools. Tables of students, families, and curious individuals sat down for lessons. They exchanged questions and answers, and quickly become experts on how locks work.

Gage Park High School Robot

Across the room, Marc Irwin of Gage Park High School, had a lot to say about the various robotics programs he would be offering on the south side. He also brought along an impressive collection of large, small, simple, and complex robots. The crowd was large and everyone wanted to try their hand at taking the robots for a walk. Marc welcomed the crowds, letting minds wander with the robots. He also made some clear connections between the importance of robotics programs and science classes at CPS schools.

Don't try to resist soldering

Meanwhile, down from the robots, Chris was in charge of the soldering table, representing Schurz with a quick wit and a sharp purple shirt. He commanded the table, explaining why soldering is significant, why it’s important to be safe while soldering, and how to do it. Between gel, fusing the resistor to the circuit, and putting up with my photo taking, Chris presented a clear, concise lesson on beginning soldering. I asked him to sum it up in a sentence for his internet audience. His response: “Anyone can do it.”

Hand made air guns from Andrew at Workshop 88

Down the hall from the cafeteria, Workshop 88 was present in large numbers at the Faire. They were featuring a table filled with air-guns. Andrew, a member at the Workshop, explained that he has been working on a cupcake (type of 3-D printer) for many months now. What will he make with it first, you may be wondering? Without hesitation he responded with more parts for his airguns – things he wouldn’t be able to buy or things that may not exist…yet. The beauty of the cupcake, he emphasized, is that “you can make more, to help you make even more. How cool is that?”

They are about to fly.

Outside, the Tinkering School of Chicago presented a catapult that delighted attendees, pedestrians, and drivers on Milwaukee Ave. Flinging things = popular. In addition to their popularity, there was a great of passion for everything that went into the catapult – how they built it, the physics behind it, and explaining how to target where your watermelon, orange, or other projectile will splatter. The clouds and sun were an ideal backdrop for towering launches all day long.

Making poetry at the Maker Faire

For the tech-weary there was a hands-on slam poetry table from Words Speak Louder, a Schurz student club. The students at the table were enthusiastic and eager to have passersby contribute some poetry about the day or anything else to their collection. It was a good reminder that making is more than just tinkering with technology.

Making the beats, tuning the melody.

Back inside, there was a lot of action around the iPads and Creativity table. More importantly, there was a lot of music coming from that corner of the building. The table leader advertised that you did not need any music experience to make a song. She waved crowds over and passed out headphones, iPads, and people got to work. Once a track was finished, if the author wanted, they would play the  track on the speakers and big screen for all to see.

LED Blinkie

One of the larger tables was for the creation of blinkies, LED pattern design kits, sponsored by 2DKits. Some expert instructors were on hand to field questions and keep the ball rolling until visitors had their very own blinkie to take home!

Chicago Knights present Parker

Upstairs sunlight filtered into the gym where robots dominated the court. The Chicago Knights, a FIRST Robotics team, presented two basketball-shooting robots. Some students explained that the two robots featured two very different shooting mechanisms, but over the course of the afternoon they demonstrated that both could sink a shot in their own ways.

Wiimote Interactive Board

After spending time with so many tables, I was shocked to see how fast the afternoon flew by. I returned to the cafeteria to stop at the Wiimote-smartboard table. The crew there had rigged a Wiimote to capture motion with a projector, much like a smartboard. Talking both to the teacher and student there, they revealed 1.) how easy the making process was, 2.) the great features the interactive board offered, and 3.) how straightforward it was to use.

3-D Printing MakerBot Industries

As nice as it was to hear this, those three statements were great summaries of everything I had seen during the Mini-Maker Faire that day. The range of interests, inventions, and re-creations was diverse and that was fantastic. Tables were teaching other tables about programming robots or making iPad apps. Younger attendees were eager to make flashlights, blinkies, or marvel at all the noise and excitement around them. High-school aged-attendees were free to dive into conversation with tinkerers, hobbyists, and some of the best advocates for DIY projects around the city. For all attendees it was an engaging environment with no shortage of idea exchange. The energy in and outside the walls of Schurz was undeniable.

Mini Maker Faire at Schurz

If you missed this Maker Faire, do not worry. Keep your eyes peeled because more will be coming to the city soon. If you need to scratch that itch sooner than later – GREAT! – check out the list of Makers on our site and get in touch with them. There is plenty happening all over the city (and country, world) every week of the year.

Will Kent is a CyberNavigator with the Chicago Public Library and a Retention Coach for the University of Illinois. This was his first Maker Faire and he is looking forward to more.

Thank you for Coming!

We salute you vegetables. Fly gracefully. #makerfairechicagon... on Twitpic
Thank you to all our Makers and Volunteers for coming out to Carl Schurz High School this Saturday, April 21st  to launch the first annual Mini Maker Faire Chicago Northside! And thank you to everyone who attended, planted a flower, pet a chicken, blasted a nerd, shot a basketball, participated in a circus, picked a lock, built your own Chicago, built a blinkie, constructed a catapult, designed recycled jewelry, composed a song, learned about glass-blowing, created  a T-shirt scarf, painted your own knife wound, braided Renaissance style hair, joined a hackerspace, worked a 3D printer, operated a robot, rode a DIY segway, completed an electrical circuit, chilled with the Wandering States, and MADE something!

Please check the website in the coming weeks for pictures, videos, and blogs about the event.  Follow us on Facebook and check out posts on Twitter: #makerfairechicago #makerfairechicagonorthside #makerfaire.

P.S. If you missed the basketball shooters from FIRST Robotics, here they are, thanks to @pdp7

FIRST Robotics and Mini Makers Team Up