One of the cool aspects of our jobs as Product Managers involves researching new markets. We have been watching the Maker Movement develop over the last couple of years and recently decided to research this movement a bit further. In May, Betsy Taylor and I traveled to San Francisco to walk the 10th annual Maker Faire and learn more.
Before we get too far into what we saw at Maker Faire, let me back up to offer some explanation in case you are not familiar with this growing movement. The Maker Movement focuses on creativity, innovation, and a thinking out-of-the-box mind set. It promotes a spirit of collaboration, not competition, encourages project based learning and how to improve ideas through trial and error. The Maker Movement includes projects and ideas in Crafts, Robotics, Electronics, Culinary, Technology (including 3D printing), Music and Science. The Maker Faire is an event created by Make Magazine to celebrate Arts, Crafts, Engineering, Science projects and the D-I-Y mindset.
This year marked the 10th annual Maker Faire in San Francisco which was a 3 day event that had over 100,000 people in attendance including families with young children, teens and adults. There are now Maker Faires all over the world, however, San Francisco’s is the longest running and the largest.
Walking through Maker Faire was sensory overload in the best of ways. There was everything from flame shooting sculptures to Steampunk Alley to Google engineers showing inventions they had created in their free time (automatic Chai Tea maker!) Want to learn how to create giant robots or pickle vegetables? We saw it all and more! It was easy to get sidetracked by the flame shooting sculptures and the” giant high fives” but we stayed the course and focused on what kids were exhibiting, what kids walking the show were interested in, and of course why they were interested.
What we saw and heard from kids was astounding. We talked to groups of kids who were exhibiting at Maker Faire, some with a Maker club or group from his/her school. We talked with 1 Maker (who was about 11 years old) that already had sponsorship in a booth and was demonstrating his invention. A teenage Maker we spoke to, had pulled a group of his friends who all “liked to make things” as he said, and they put a booth of their work together. Everywhere we turned, there were kids of all ages engaged in sharing what they had made, making something new or talking with others about the making process. They were engaged, excited and highly motivated. They were encouraging to each other and those who walked the show were equally engaged as the kids presenting. The spirit of ingenuity is alive, well and growing!
Maker Faire inspired us and our research. We feel the Maker Movement has great potential for kids and adults. There are a wide range of concepts that have great potential for camps, libraries and schools. We will be looking to further develop our offerings to support this trending movement over the next several months.
Submitted by Ann Kollegger and Betsy Taylor. Product Managers S&S Worldwide.