In its sixth year, Maker Faire Kansas City welcomed thousands of attendees of all ages from across the nation to Union Station on June 24 and 25.
The event featured over 350 makers and garnered sponsorship from local firms such as the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation, Missouri S&T, JE Dunn, Cerner, KCPT, the Neighborhood Tourist Development Fund of the City of Kansas City, Mo. and more.
Startland visited the faire and witnessed hundreds of innovations across multiple sectors. Here are five that stood out. Make sure to check out the photo gallery below.
Missouri S&T’s Mars Rover
A university focused on science, technology, engineering and mathematics, Missouri S&T’s faire booth demonstrated their student-built Mars Rover, which recently won a national competition.
The University Rover Challenge is an annual competition that brings university student teams from all over the world together to design and build Mars rovers.
“They beat out 34 University teams,” said Andrew Careaga, campus spokesperson for Missouri S&T. “We wanted an opportunity to show off the Mars Rover and for our students to get to talk to other young individuals about what it’s like to be on a team that builds something like that.”
Careaga said the students won thanks to their design skills, teamwork, presentation and, most of all, the robot they built themselves. The rover can collect soil samples and then perform a basic scientific evaluation to determine geological significance. In addition, the rover is able to autonomously maneuver itself around various obstacles.
He added that although this is the first year the University has attended the Maker Faire, they plan to return.
“The Maker Faire is a natural fit for us,” Careaga said. “It’s great to show the capabilities of very talented students that we have in the United States and bringing people together to share ideas, share technology and work together.”
Black Feather Studios’ Gryphon puppet
Ashley Bilke, founder of Black Feather Studios, has showcased her company at the Maker Faire for two years now. Her firm makes custom puppets and props for theatre, schools, libraries and cosplayers in the Kansas City area. Bilke’s puppet, Sarabi the Gryphon, was a crowd favorite at the faire — especially for children.
“Sarabi the Gryphon is manned by one puppeteer from the inside,” Bilke said. “ She has three levers: one that moves the mouth, one that blinks the eyes and one that’s on a medal circuit that swivels the ears. It’s all traditional puppet making so everything’s on pulleys and strings. There’s no robotics or animatronics.”
Bilke said that her favorite thing about participating in the Maker Faire is seeing the reaction from the community.
“The biggest thing for me is creating a surreal, magical experience for the kids,” Bilke said. “Seeing the way that kids react to Sarabi the Gryphon, they just totally fall in love they think she’s like a real gryphon. I love to watch their faces light up when they come and hug her and pet her. It’s just adorable.”
Black Family Technology Awareness Association’s programs
With the mission to close the digital divide and bring awareness to Kansas City’s black technologists, the Black Family Technology Awareness Association is an organization based out of the W.E.B. DuBois Learning Center in Kansas City.
The group sent several volunteers to display robots at the faire with options for kids of several ages.
“We have legos for the smaller elementary school kids and then there are larger, metal pieces for middle and high school kids,” said Miguel Fernandez, volunteer at BFTA.
Fernandez said that BFTA offers a variety of programs, one of which is a community radio station in which kids create programs for the station.
In addition, volunteers such as Fernandez facilitate students in robot design.
“They design them, build them and program them themselves,” Fernandez said. “Then we take them to competitions. We’re just there to provide motivation and guidance.”
12-year-old Annie Fingersh’s soap
Annie Fingersh, 12, has been attending the Maker Faire with her family for several years now, she said. Although Fingersh is a veteran attendee, 2017 marked her first year as a booth operator, selling soap she made herself.
A self-proclaimed “crafty kid,” Fingersh said she always leaves the event feeling inspired.
“A lot of times after the Maker Faire I go home with just a bunch of new ideas,” Fingersh said. “I get excited when I come home and think about all the crafts I can do myself.”
Fingersh said the process of making soap is easy, not to mention fun.
“First I take my base and I melt it down,” Fingersh said. “Then I add fragrance and essential oils to make the soap smell good. Then I add the colors so it can be pretty and stuff. Then I pour it into the mold.”
Tapigomi’s’ tape castle
Danny Scheible hails from Sacramento, Calif. and traveled to Kansas City to showcase his business, Tapigomi, at the Maker Faire.
“Tapigomi is the art form of applying imagination to masking tape,” Scheible said. “It’s something that I developed to make art as accessible as possible.”
The mission of Tapigomi is to inspire children to think outside the box, Scheible said. For the faire, he built a large castle — built completely out of tape — that was on display.
He also held a course on Sunday to help children apply tape to their imaginations.
“The first step is to believe in yourself,” Scheible said “We’re teaching people how to use their hands and minds at the same time. … We’re also teaching children to be adults and for adults to be children. You can literally make anything you want out of tape. It has infinite potential and we are here to teach the process of how to do that.”