It’s all relative, I suppose.  We came back from a wonderful Maker Faire in San Mateo last weekend, and of course the event is huge.  When we decided to put on a Mini Maker Faire at our kids’ school next year, it seemed so manageable.  But really you could produce an event 1/100th the size of the Maker Faire and it would still be a lot of work.  It could also be a lot of fun.  We’re hoping for equal proportions.

Who are we and why are we doing this?  We are parents of children who attend Park Day School in Oakland, CA.  Park is an amazing school, with a wise and skilled staff and faculty, a truly gorgeous campus, and a warm and energetic community.  I hope I speak for many of the parents when I say that we chose this school for our kids because it encourages their curiosity and helps them learn for themselves.  Park gives them the space to explore what’s interesting to them.

As parents, I guess that’s what we’re doing with this Mini Maker Faire.  We have both an interest and a requirement to volunteer for the school every year, and many of us choose to help with fundraising efforts.  Park has for 24 years produced one of highlight events of the year for garden enthusiasts, the Secret Gardens of the East Bay Tour, so there is a history of creative, community-focused fundraising events.

We proposed a Mini Maker Faire as a fundraiser so we could combine two of our greatest passions: Maker culture and our kids’ educations.  So much of the culture around us tells us – and our children – that our first job is to be consumers.  The more we can expose our kids to a culture of do-it-yourself, a culture of building, hacking, remixing, crafting, experimenting, and designing, the culture we see in Make and Craft magazines, the more they’ll see the opportunities to shape the world around them.  We all consume, but we want to teach our kids to not only consume less, but also to create.  Let’s encourage a generation of mini makers.

Our goals with the Mini Maker Faire are summed up by the requisite list of three C words: culture, community, and curriculum.  There’s a fourth, cash, but it’s a longer term goal; we hope this evolves into a fundraising stream for the school, but our wise leaders in the administration at Park understand that the event must serve a community before it can raise funds, so we’re focused on the first three for now.  The means our main work this summer is to reach out to the larger community and inspire the teachers at Park to make the Mini Maker Faire a big part of their curriculum next fall.  The culture part will hopefully come along for the ride.

In the spirit of maker culture, we are making this up as we go along.  We’re a handful of parents with a supportive school administration, loosely organized, with an adventurous spirit and more enthusiasm than resources.  If you’re willing to help –whether its organizing, exhibiting, or just spreading the word, leave a comment here and we’ll contact you.