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Organize the Maker Faire

Learning Objectives

After completing this unit, you’ll be able to:

  • Understand the different pieces that go into planning a Maker Faire.
  • Implement the Maker Faire.

What You’ll Need for a Maker Faire

The Maker Faire is a celebration of the students' creativity and a competition among teams to win awesome prizes. During the event, each team has its own science fair style booth, from which the team members present their vision of a sustainable future. They pitch their prototypes to a real-life audience, which can include your company’s employees, school staff, parents, and external invitees. Each attendee can vote for their favorite project at a voting station. The number of votes determines which teams get prizes. It’s an exciting day and can be a lot of work, but it's definitely the most rewarding part of the challenge.

You’re probably wondering how to make all of this happen. We’ve got you covered again! Here are the biggest aspects you’ll need to plan for.

The Maker Faire requires space--optionally including chaperones and transportation, a date, layout/furniture/signage, and a voting mechanism.

1. Space

Find a space to hold the event. You can get pretty creative with this. In the past, we’ve hosted Maker Faires in office lobbies, cafes, and other spacious areas that get a lot of foot traffic. Look to your organization’s real estate or workplace services team for guidance and partnership.

A volunteer and students gathered at Salesforce’s San Francisco Bay Area Maker Faire.

An alternative to hosting it at your office is to host it at the school. Hosting the Maker Faire at the school is a great way for the students to bond with their community, and for their educators, peers, and parents to see what they’ve been up to for the past weeks. You can have volunteers attend to listen, cheer, and vote. At the end of the day, it all depends on what the educator and you feel is best for the students.

Chaperones

If you’re having the Maker Faire at your office, this event is essentially a field trip for the students. Some schools require a certain number of chaperones based on the number of students attending. Ask the school principal what their policy is, and, if needed, ask the educators to get the chaperones. If the educator can’t attend, then work with them to identify a lead chaperone who can act as the main point of contact representing the school.

Transportation

Depending on where the event takes place, the students, educators, volunteers, and chaperones will need some mode of transportation to travel to and from the event. We recommend that you first consider using public transit, such as trains or buses, or even self-powered transit, like walking (SDG 13 for the win!). If this isn’t feasible, consider booking a shuttle or purchasing rideshare gift cards for the attendees to use.

2. Date

The sooner you set the date and time, the better. Make sure that this date works not only for you, but for the schools, students, educators, and volunteers. Be mindful of testing schedules, school holidays, bell schedules, and peak working hours for employees.

3. Layout, Displays, and Signage

Since it’s going to be a science fair like event, each team needs a table to display their creative projects. A team will typically stand on one side of the table as attendees listen to their pitch. The students will have to adapt to the situation—maybe the members of each team alternate pitching to different people or they present as a group. It’s a great exercise that will serve them their whole life.

Make sure to print a sign for each team to display at their table. Each sign should include the team members’ names, project, school, and the SDG that their project addresses. 

Example of student group signage from Salesforce’s San Francisco Bay Area Maker Faire

Seating isn’t required for teams, but feel free to provide a few seats just in case some students need to take a break from standing up and pitching. It can get pretty tiring! Also, think through accessibility needs and leave space for wheelchairs as well.

It’s also good to have directional and promotional signs to make sure a good flow of attendees come to listen to students' pitches. In the next section, we provide some tips for getting people to attend.

4. Voting Mechanism (Laptops or Tablets)

Once event attendees hear the students’ pitches for their solutions, the last and most important step is for them to vote on their favorite projects. Since most attendees don’t have much time, we recommend that you have a voting mechanism ready to go on tablets or laptops. For example, you can use a web form survey to get and tally votes. When it’s time to announce the winners, view the voting results to determine the champion team.

Example of a voting booth from Salesforce’s San Francisco Bay Area Maker Faire

We recommend providing guidance on what criteria the attendees should use to select their favorite project. Examples from past Faires include:

  • Creativity. How original and unique is the solution?
  • Problem identification. How well do the students describe the problem they are solving?
  • Presentation. How well do the students present their project?
  • Solution impact. What is the potential impact of the solution?

Judging criteria: 1) Creativity. How original and unique is the solution? 2) Problem identification. How well do the students describe the problem they are solving? 3) Presentation. How well do the students present their project? 3) Solution impact. What is the potential impact of the solution?

Photographer (Optional) 

Try recruiting a volunteer photographer who can capture the day. It’s important to document the memories of such an exciting event. How do you think we got all of the amazing photos for this module?

How Do I Get People to Attend?

There are plenty of ways to spread the word about this exciting event. The easiest way is to create a simple flyer, and then email it to the students and their families, school staff, volunteers, and coworkers. You can also post it on your company’s collaboration hub or on the school’s bulletin boards, depending on what audience you’re targeting and where the event will be held.

Additionally, a week or two before the Maker Faire, request to display the event details on public monitors, like the ones in elevator banks and lobbies. Here’s an example of an announcement that Salesforce posted on monitors for a Maker Faire.

Announcement sign displayed on monitors for the  Salesforce’s San Francisco Bay Area Maker Faire. The headline is “Get inspired by Future Trailblazers.”

Preparing the Event Staff for the Big Day

As the date approaches, prep the educator, chaperones, and other event staff to ensure that the event runs smoothly. 

We recommend that you create a “Know Before You Go” style one-pager to send to the educator and chaperones a couple of days before the event. The one-pager serves as a reminder of details, such as:

  • Logistics: transportation details, arrival and departure times, location, and your contact information
  • Agenda for the day
  • Rules and expectations
  • Recommended attire, like what color shirt to wear
  • What to bring

To ensure that everyone is on the same page and pumped for the event, meet with your volunteers and other key players, like the facility staff, the day before. In this meeting, cover the following details.

  • Roles and responsibilities
  • Show rundown, such as the minute-by-minute timing of the event, from start to finish.
  • Floor plan and furniture setup
  • Last-minute questions
  • Thank you—remember to show your appreciation to everyone in the room for their commitment and dedication to the program!

Announcing the Winners

After about 1-1.5 hours of pitches, tally the votes, gather all of the teams, and announce the winner. We recommend also announcing who came in second and third place or providing different prizes based on alternative criteria so that more teams can be proud of their work. Depending on your preference, you can present the winners with their prizes on the spot, or let them know what their prizes are and tell them that the prizes will be delivered to them or their school.

Make sure everybody leaves with a gift, no matter how small. At a minimum, give each participant a printed certificate to congratulate them on completing the program. It’s a small gesture, but a great finishing touch! We’ve included a blank version and a completed one as an example.

Blank version of the Future Trailblazer Official Certificate of Completion. Filled-out version of the Future Trailblazer Official Certificate of Completion.

Now you know all the tasks to organize a great Maker Faire. You are ready to make a memorable event for the students, one that fills them with self-confidence and inspires them to be real change-makers.

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