What did you miss at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire? Only the Greatest Show (And Tell) On Earth! Over 30 exhibitors including 9 bands, multiple food trucks, 3 music labs, brewers, virtual reality gear, 3D printing, playing catch with a robot, laser shows, R2-D2, race cars, (of course) LEGO, and much more!


A Who? … What’s it? … a Maker Faire? Yes, a Maker Faire, a giant show-and-tell by a large variety of Do-It-Yourself-ers who play with wood, fabric, liquids, metals, electricity, and in our case plastics! This past Labor Day IowaLUG members and a whole bunch of other builders, creators, and inventors got together at the Science Center of Iowa for the first Des Moines Mini Maker Faire.

A little background; People have been making things in their garages or tinkering with things for a long time, obviously. For the past, oh, 10 years or so, there has been growth of a new subculture based around technology and engineering pursuits such as electronics, robotics, and 3D printing. Make Magazine arrived in 2005 focusing on do it yourself projects across many disciplines. In 2006 they launched the event Maker Faire to “celebrate arts, crafts, engineering, science projects and the Do-It-Yourself (DIY) mindset.” Make Magazine has grown its support to assist independent organizers in producing smaller scale “Mini” Maker Faires all around the world.

The conversation of such an event in Des Moines started more than a year ago. I’m proud to say that IowaLUG was one of the earliest groups involved in support of the idea and it was a pleasure to participate.

LEGO Zone!

The Get Things Moving Exhibit space was re-named (for the day) to the “LEGO Zone” and that’s where IowaLUG setup a number of displays and activities. Mixed in with the permanent exhibits was the MAKE@SCI LEGO Wall, the 75,000 piece LEGO Science Center model, our MOCs, a free-build table with only a few thousand LEGO bricks on it, LEGO Movie coloring pages, a couple Ball Mazes, and our main feature was the Great Ball Contraption (GBC).

The GBC was a huge hit and seemed to really capture the visitor’s attention. We overheard a number of parents comment that they had to look for Power Functions for their own kid’s creations, and even a number of parents not aware such a thing existed. For most of the day we had 7 modules running, by day’s end we added power to a couple more and had all 9 running pretty smoothly. Not too shabby since we really only began exploring it as a group in July. I anticipate we’ll be expanding on this for future events and have already discussed some ideas for additional GBC workshops in conjunction with the Science Center.

We want to thank our members; Chris, Brandon, John, Ryan, Anson, Ephram, Anthony, and Philip for coming down and spending time at the event, chasing the GBC balls, and displaying MOCs. Additionally we thank Mike, Scott, and Jeff for sending creations along with us for display as well!

For more information on Maker Culture, Maker Faires, and this whole DIY thing here are some more links:


Check out these additional images: