Inventors and Mad Scientists at the NoCo Maker Faire

noco maker faire logoI’ve been reading about them and hearing about them for years, but I haven’t yet had the chance to go to a Maker Faire until today, when I drove up to Loveland, about 45min northeast of Boulder, for the Northern Colorado Mini-Maker Faire. Before I even got there it was interesting as it was held at the Rocky Mountain Center for Innovation and Technology, a former Hewlett-Packard assembly plant. Why is it now empty? Because manufacturing and assembly has all moved overseas.

And that’s really the heart and soul of the Maker movement: the initial invention, the crazy, wild ideas, putting things together that don’t normally go together, and making things. In this way, it’s nicely tied to the Colorado Inventors Showcase where I’m a judge, because it’s the same energy, albeit the Maker Faires are definitely aimed to budding engineers, scientists and other youngsters who just like building — and destroying — things.

Really, was a lot of fun, and I wish I’d have brought my kids along but they were with their Mom today (except my oldest, who was at my house doing schoolwork, as she is every day) so I was the token parent without little ones, but there were sure a ton of kids having a blast!

There’s another Maker Faire coming to Boulder, CO in the spring, from what I hear, along with a bigger Denver Maker Faire also on the horizon for late spring / early summer. Between the robotics, the 3D printing, the tech and retro tech, steampunk, LEGO and the overall energy of creation, I’ll be there for both.

And here are some photos I took today, with my commentary. I apologize for not getting all the company or maker names right: if you know of a mistake I’ve made, please indicate as such in the comments!


Lots of cardboard and tape meant that not only were the kids having fun, so were plenty of parents!


A bit more “Burning Man” than Maker Faire, but who doesn’t love a fire breathing robot? Look closely for the guy inside operating it, shades of The Wizard of Oz.


Pretty sure this girl’s little derby car was top heavy, but she gave it a whirl on the pretty epic track anyway!


Aime’s Love Gluten Free Bakery was offering samples. I spun and won a delicious peanut butter cookie.


The Nerdy Derby (who doesn’t love the name?) had a wicked cool track set up…


Fun with Pinball had a great interactive display that demonstrate how old-school pinball machines worked. #want


Dillon Martin from Anonymous Longboards had a great story too: He started making his own custom skateboards while in high school as an alternative to working at Starbucks (as he put it) and now sells custom longboards via his Web site. Now he’s branching into making custom archery bows: that’s what he’s working on in the photo. Really personable guy, very interesting chatting with him.


Everyone loved the pinball mechanics display. I mean, come on, who doesn’t like a pinball game?


Computer-Aided Manufacturing at its most interesting, a PC-driven custom cutting machine. It’s making an Aztec mandala design that’s going to take about 3hrs to finish up. Very cool


Slightly creepy, this local 3D printing company had just bought a 3D scanning system and this boy is looking at a 3-dimensional scan of himself that they can then feed to the 3D printer and create a little 8-inch model. Somewhat creepy, but darn interesting, though the gal wouldn’t tell me how much they’d paid for the hardware and software.

Maker Faires. Very cool. Check one out!

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