I’d like to take the time and opportunity to reflect on our experiences at the Madison Mini Maker Faire and talk about each of the wonderful projects our team at Delve has been able to put together to share with the public, while hopefully inspiring young minds to be open and grow.
Over the past four years, we’ve gotten progressively better at what works well for this event and what doesn’t. We’ve been learning each time we do this event – just how much work, effort, and time has to go into it to pull it off successfully and keep the kiddos flowing through the booth with smiles and lasting memories.
Our first year (2016), we decided to give away jellybeans. But in order to get the candy, you had to craft a basket/container to hold it. This gave way to kids trying to make some huge baskets while others just wanted a small handful. The baskets that held candy were made from various materials such as paper, plastic, pipe cleaners, tape and origami techniques, which all the participants had to design themselves. As we used our engineering and industrial design talents to assist in these creations, we learned quickly that we didn’t have enough working space to fold and create. We had to adapt and were able to occupy a whole other booth space just to keep the crowd flowing. We quickly ran out of candy and supplies and had lots of satisfied people.
In 2017, we wanted to explain the process of injection molding and all that must go into the simple products we use on daily. We decided to design and make Dragon Rings that shot out little disks. We had the benchtop injection molder, computer, and CAD all set up to walk people through the process. We even were making parts right on site. We learned people were less interested in the process and just wanted to build the ring and shoot the disks at our targets. We had significantly less traffic with this project, but for the people who did participate, they got to have lots of fun target practicing with their wearable projectile shooter.
For 2018, we created a whirlwind of spinning, crashing Battle Tops. We offered up a variety of parts to build a spinning top that you could test in our battle arena. Shown on the big screen, participants tweaked a variety of ways to build and destroy each other’s creations. As plastic parts flew, and the crowd went wild over the performance of their tops, we realized that projects which people get to build and take time to make themselves is really what they want.
So, this year’s Maker Faire project was by far the most complicated yet fulfilling project we’ve done to date. It combined over 10,000 parts that were either purchased or fabricated in house to make the 500 bracelets we were giving away, along with a team of assemblers and a packaging train of employees. The whole kit consisted of mechanical sub-assemblies, a sheet metal switch, laser cut acrylic gears and plates, bushings, battery, LED, and a silicone-coated spring steel. We based the fun on fire, water, electricity, wind, and earth elements, color coordinating the bands and LEDs to create teams of kids that could build and power up their bracelets and wear them with pride. We had parents and kids trouble shooting, bending, twisting, and lighting up the bracelets showing them off to others around the faire.
We believe it’s truly fulfilling to build and make something that you can be proud of. Our power bands helped build the confidence of these young aspiring kiddos to light the way into their futures. We look forward to participating in next year’s event and hope to bring another cool project to fruition and share.
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