Maker Faire San Diego—A Legend in the Making: Over 25,000 Experience Innovation at Balboa Park

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The Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth, Maker Faire San Diego, lived up to its name this past weekend, October 7-8. Through a circuit that encompassed seven of Balboa Park’s museums and two outdoor areas, inventors, creators, crafters, musicians, designers, builders and pioneers were the stars.

Maker Faire San Diego

San Diego is really an incubator of creativity and innovation.

The Greatest Show (& Tell) on Earth, Maker Faire San Diego, lived up to its name this past weekend, October 7-8. Through a circuit that encompassed seven of Balboa Park’s museums and two outdoor areas, inventors, creators, crafters, musicians, designers, builders and pioneers were the stars.

“San Diego is really an incubator of creativity and innovation,” said Cody Nelson, Director of Events and Public Programs for the Balboa Park Cultural Partnership, which runs Maker Faire San Diego. “It’s a pleasure to host these makers and experience their creations.”

Maker Faire San Diego was organized into ten different zones, including the Human Made, Technology, Craft Maker and Robotics Zones. Visitors were encouraged to “complete the circuit” by exploring all ten zones. The Newegg Technology Zone, held inside the Fleet Science Center, featured such crowd-pleasers as the Makeblock robotics construction platform that helps children have fun while learning essential STEAM skills by building their own kid-sized robot.

With the goal of making robotics accessible to everyone, Cardboard Combat Bots, also on display at the Fleet, has developed DIY robot kits that can be built for under $20. “It’s great to see the look on kids’ faces as they walk away with their own robot,” says inventor Jeff Malins. “In our combat arena we shredded a few robots which everybody loved.”

Of course, some of the creations were larger-than-life, like returning star Robot Resurrection, the towering 30-foot tall, fire-breathing, articulating sculpture made from 90% recycled materials and reclaimed airplane parts. Performances by Audiobody rocked the house in an explosive mix of relentless comedy, full-body contortion, juggling, LED light shows and live music. The Electric Giraffe Project, a San Diego made AI robotic creation is a 17-foot tall walking robot that roamed across the event to the delight of visitors. And then there was The Journey, a hand-made wood construction using mortise and tenon, incorporating music, lighting and responsive technology. Exhibiting for the first time at Maker Faire San Diego 2016, The Journey was selected for Burning Man 2017, then returned to San Diego.

Mexico was well represented among the 250 local and regional makers, including El Garage Project Hub, based in Mexicali. The group’s social outreach programs aim to positively impact their community by involving kids in STEAM education. Located in the Kids & Education Zone in the San Diego Natural History Museum, El Garage brought 3D printers for kids to interact with, as well as a “Play-Doh piano” that plays notes from the electric current in users’ fingers via electrodes planted in the dough.

The San Diego Museum of Man hosted the Human Made Zone featuring arts and crafts projects visitors could make themselves at booths throughout the museum. Everything But the Sheep taught knitting and wool spinning. “We’ve had a terrific response this weekend. Knitting is growing beyond a female-centric population. I’ve had boys learning how to knit here unashamed and without judgment,” says knitter Peggy Cross. “When I first got involved in the maker movement, the community was largely robots, but there is a softer side.”

This softer side was applauded at The Old Globe Theater’s Costuming and Stage Set Design Zone. The theater taught visitors how to create Foley sound effects and how to fashion their own puppets out of potters’ clay and fabric.

Combining the softer and technology sides of Maker Faire San Diego was the 11-foot tall Know Mann Giant Robot Puppet, recently featured on ABC’s The Gong Show. Performing each day at Maker Faire San Diego, Know Mann was a crowd favorite. “The sense of joy and wonder I get to bring people, especially children, is what I love best,” said Nathaniel Allenby, the giant puppet’s maker. “I like to inspire people and tell them they can do anything. If they can imagine it, they can do it.”

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Balboa Park Cultural Partnership is a nonprofit organization through which 30 arts, science and cultural institutions in Balboa Park collaborate to achieve shared goals. By helping these groups achieve greater organizational efficiency, innovation and excellence, it seeks to contribute to the vitality and sustainability of Balboa Park. For more information visit

The San Diego Makers Guild is a nonprofit that is committed to fostering the maker community and to promoting, showcasing, and encouraging adoption of making by individuals and public and private institutions, with the goal of advancing education, innovation, commerce and lifelong learning. Our vision is to help develop San Diego into a nationally known maker city. Learn more at

The first Maker Faire launched in May 2006 in the San Francisco Bay Area and was quickly followed by Faires in Austin, Detroit and New York City, as well as others around the world. Technology has lowered the barriers to becoming a Maker and this has launched the Maker Movement, which fuels Maker Faire. Maker Faire was designed to be forward-looking, showcasing Makers who are exploring new forms and new technologies. But it is not just for exhibiting what is new in technical fields - Maker Faire features innovation and experimentation across the spectrum of science, engineering, art, performance, and craft.

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Elisabeth Handley
since: 07/2013
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