Getting Ready for Another Maker Faire!

With summer vacation just around the corner here in South Korea it’s time to start thinking about Maker Faire. This year the Seoul Maker Faire is on October 19-20. Thankfully this gives my students a lot more time to prepare than last year.

Seoul Maker Faire 2018

Last year was the first time my students and I participated in Maker Faire as makers. I am very proud of how hard my students worked and the lasting impression they made on all the visitors to our tables.

However, the lead up to Maker Faire wasn’t without its difficulties. After signing up for Maker Faire last June, that didn’t leave us much time to prepare. Seoul Maker Faire was held on September 29-30 last year.

Our coding class only met once a week so it didn’t give us much time to build projects. But my students were up for the challenge.

AdaFruit

I gave students a week to choose their projects. After discovering adafruit.com most students decided to choose a project from their learning section. I helped them choose a project which I thought would fit their skill level, but I wanted them to pick a project that would challenge them as well.

Unfortunately, this was our first mistake. The video tutorials made every project look so simple. Most projects students chose could be finished within an hour.

Of course one of my students had to pick challenge that was way over his head!

However, almost all of the projects they chose required a lot of soldering. And it wasn’t just simple soldering either. Most of the work required students to solder small circuit boards.

None of my students had any soldering experience. We didn’t even have a soldering iron.

Burned Fingers

Once all the students had their supplies it was time to get building. From the very beginning students ran into problems.

As I mentioned before, they had never soldered before so most of them were scared to get burned.

I hadn’t soldered in a long long time so I needed a refresher course. Luckily, I had some experts standing by to offer some advice.

I reached out to our friends Stephane and Chris at Podpi.com Stephane gave me some valuable tips and tricks. Also, I spent a lot of time on Youtube watching every beginner guide I could find.

The tips I received were great, however, I still ended up with a few burned fingers.

First attempt in learning

Soldering ended up being the least of our problems. Most the students decided to chose projects that required the use of the Arduino IDE. Up until that point only a few of my students had experience with JavaScript.

The coding language used to code their projects proved to be a difficult challenge. What surprised me was how diligent my students were. Despite being a bit overwhelmed, they worked hard to find the answers to the numerous problems they faced when coding their projects.

The more problems they solved the more problems they created. But, the learning that happened during that time surpassed most of the learning we did all year.

Stars of the Show

With projects in hand, we caught the 6am train to the Maker Faire in Seoul. Even though it was their first Maker Faire, my student totally stole the show.

Because they had spent so many hours creating, rebuilding, and repairing their projects, there was no one at Maker Faire who knew their projects better than they did.

This made them very comfortable explaining their projects to the thousands of visitors over the two days.

2019 Will be even better

My students and I have been looking forward to this year’s Maker Faire since last year.

We want to make this year extra special. Thanks to some awesome ideas from our best friends Andy and Eva (Andystechgarage) we’ve decided to add a theme to our display.

Since it will be very close to Halloween, we are thinking about doing a Stranger Things theme. Students will create projects will a retro feel. Of course there will be some awesome customs worn. I get to show my daughter how bad my fashion was in the 80s!

Another idea that we have been thinking about since last year was designing our own PCB badges. AdaFruit has a few, and we’ve seen a bunch at Maker Faire. We have a great PCB supplier PCBgogo to work with, but we need to look for a designer.

I am not sure we have enough time to learn how to design our own PCB board before Maker Faire this fall. So we will be on the hunt for design help!


Seoul Maker Faire Video Project