Author Archives: desmoinesmakerfaire

Meet a Maker

With the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire less than a week away, it’s time to start meeting our makers! Check out this post from the SCI blog by Taylor Soule which features one of the first Makers to apply to the DMMMF:

When Jason Cross received the first issue of “Make” magazine in 2005, he felt an instant connection to the content and mission. But years would pass before he turned that Making intrigue into… well, R2-D2.

Last year, Cross began building a full-scale replica of the beloved “Star Wars” robot.

“I hadn’t really fiddled with anything until I started last year, but I’ve been a Maker fan,” Cross said.

His journey from fan to Maker peaks at the inaugural Des Moines Mini Maker Faire on Monday, September 1, at the Science Center of Iowa, where Cross will exhibit R2-D2.

In the world of mass-produced everything, Cross cites a growing sense of DIY pride in the Making movement’s recent popularity.

“I think we seem to be moving toward this artisanal movement in a way where people are moving away from mass-produced,” Cross said. “It’s still there, but there seems to be more pride in people learning how to do things themselves.”

Thanks to how-to videos and online sharing, the Maker community has expanded from basements and garages to encompass a global network of innovators.

“Now, you can watch YouTube videos and communicate more readily,” Cross said. “You can communicate with a small group of people in your community or people around the world to figure out how to do things.”

When people hear about Cross’ R2-D2 contribution to the Making movement, they often react with surprise.

“Some are a little incredulous like, ‘Really?’” he said.

He’s quick to mention that Makers are a community. If Cross has questions or needs a part for R2-D2, he can count on a network of fellow Makers and “Star Wars” enthusiasts. Though they’re all building replicas of the same robot, Cross said Makers value inventor and project diversity. 

“They often ask, ‘Do you have a kit?’ or, ‘How are you doing it?’ and it goes back to, ‘There’s not really a kit, but there’s a group of people who make them,’” Cross said. “People who help each other to figure out how to do it their own way.”

Meet the Makers

It’s the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth. It’s a family-friendly showcase of invention. It’s part science fair, part county fair, part something entirely new. It’s the inaugural Des Moines Mini Maker Faire!

What’s in store for you on Monday, September 1, at the Science Center of Iowa? A whole lot of showing and telling, courtesy of inventors and makers from across the state!

As you wander the exhibitor booths, tinker in the LEGO area, witness the zinging lights of a Star Theater laser show and experiment in STEM workshops, we encourage you to wonder, “Why?”

The Faire will feature a wide variety of Iowans dedicated to advancing the state’s rich STEM culture. 


  • HiFi Speakers: Experience the highest quality sound!
  • R2-D2: Yeah, you read that right — the beloved “Star Wars” character will make an appearance at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire. The robot boasts high-tech engineering, with RC control and Arduino automation.
  • FRC Team 4646 ASAP: This Des Moines-based robotics team unites 15 high school students and seven mentors to design and build a robot to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition.
  • Iowa LEGO Users Group: The Iowa LUG will present interactive LEGO activities for Maker Faire attendees, including LEGO Marble Mazes and LEGO/Duplo construction.
  • Balloon Geodesic Dome: This exhibit needs your help! Attendees will inflate and attach 165 balloons throughout the day to build a geodesic dome reaching five feet in height and 10 feet in diameter.
  • CoderDojo: In today’s tech-savvy world, coding is an ever-expanding industry. CoderDojo will present information about its coding education programs
  • Elevate Iowa: An Iowa campaign to promote careers and educational pathways in advanced manufacturing. Representatives from Vermeer will join with a small virtual reality welding simulator, American Welding Society comic books and careers in welding booklets.
  • Forward Learning Experience: Industrial engineering encompasses a wide variety of exciting, cutting-edge work. Industrial design graduate students will teach attendees about the growing fields of CNC programming, computer-aided drafting, 3D scanning, 3D printing and more!  
  • Jewels Academy-Young Emerging Scientists: Fashion and 3D design unite in this exhibit. The Jewels Academy will teach girls how to design in 3D (and create custom tote bags for their tech projects).  
  • Drop Spinning: This exhibit has only two requirements: fingers and fiber (and creativity, of course). A drop-spinning expert will demonstrate how to twist fibers, plastic and more into yarn or cord.
  • Dream: Space telescopes aren’t the only way to capture atmospheric art. This exhibit uses simple materials like spray paint to create vivid representations of the universe.
  • Safety Cane: This fiber-optic cane is visible from over a mile away, improving user safety.
  • Beer Crazy: Iowa has an ever-growing DIY industry, and Beer Crazy will showcase its contributions at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire.
  • Electric Vehicle Conversions: These three electric cars don’t emit any fumes, benefiting the environment.
  • The Canine Cabana: Invented by 14-year-old Marc Trepanier, this patent-pending pet shelter can be assembled in a snap — no tools, nails, nuts or bolts needed!
  • DICE FTC: Techies, don’t miss this exhibitor! The DICE FTC team will exhibit computers, a competition-ready robot and a 3D printer.
  • Sports Car Club of America (Des Moines Valley Region): Experience the scientific side of racing with this outdoor exhibitor. The DMVR SCCA will present DIY racing projects and a photo gallery of the racecar-building process!
  • Portrait Studio: Watch as an artist draws you, and try your hand at drawing someone else’s portrait.
  • Dog Hats from Space: Ever wondered what a dog would look like with a space helmet on? Visit the Dog in a Fez booth to see.
  • Traveling TARDIS: Calling all Whovians! Step inside a hand-crafted replica of the “Dr. Who” trademark police phone box.
  • Iowa Brewers Union: Always wanted to brew your own beer but weren’t sure where to start? Visit the Iowa Brewers Union exhibitor booth for tips and information on the brewing process.

More makers are coming! Check back soon for updates.

Last day for Maker Applications!

What do R2-D2, geodesic domes, LEGOS, Canine Cabanas and ukulele arena rock have in common? They’re all on board for the first-ever Des Moines Mini Maker Faire on Monday, September 1, at the Science Center of Iowa!

Today is the last day to apply to be a maker! Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Not sure if you are a maker? If your projects include any of the following (or anything else that’s fun and interesting), YOU’RE A MAKER!

  • Robotics
  • Electronics
  • LEGO
  • Architecture
  • Unusual Machinery
  • Handicrafts
  • Textiles
  • Chemistry Experiments
  • Gardening
  • Innovations
  • Interactive Art
  • Repurposing/Upcycling
  • Sustainable Living
  • Flying Machines
  • Handmade Instruments
  • Life-size Games
  • Inventions

Apply today!

The Maker Faire is Coming to Des Moines

The nationally-recognized Maker Faire is coming to Des Moines! The inaugural Des Moines Mini Maker Faire is scheduled for Monday, September 1, 2014 at the Science Center of Iowa in Downtown Des Moines.


The Call for Makers, Artists, Performers and Crafters is open now through August 15.


Projects can include robotics, green tech, DIY science, radio, rocketry, unusual tools or techniques, whimsical creations and more. Any groups or individuals interested in presenting their project, activity or performance in this event should complete the simple application here by August 15. There is no cost to exhibit at the Faire.

Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth


Maker Faire a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. It’s a community-based learning event that inspires everyone to become a maker and connect to people and projects in their local community. At Maker Faire, you’ll find arts and crafts, science and engineering, food and music, fire and water – but what makes this event special is that all these interesting projects and smart, creative people come together.


Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. They are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.


The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA, and in 2014 celebrated its ninth annual show with some 1,100 makers and 130,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire in New York, the other flagship event, has grown in four years to 600+ makers and 75,000 attendees. Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Orlando, Silver Spring, Paris, Rome, Oslo, Trondheim, Tokyo, Newcastle (UK) and Shenzhen are the home of larger-scale, “featured” 2014 Maker Faires, and more than 120 community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced around the United States and the world – including right here in Des Moines.


The Des Moines Mini Maker Faire is sponsored by MAKE magazine, Register Media, Kemin Industries, UTC Aerospace Systems, Iowa Science Foundation, The Greater Des Moines Partnership and Substance Architecture.


Follow the development of the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire at, on Twitter at @DSMmakerfaire and on Facebook at Des Moines Mini Maker Faire is independently organized and operated under license from Maker Media, Inc.