On March 1, 2014, Tucson held the first ever Maketopolis. The event successfully fit over 1,000 participants and 35 exhibits into two spaces totaling 11,000 square feet.
At this point you’re probably asking yourself “what IS a Maketopolis?” Maketopolis 2014 brought Tucson’s tinkerers, engineers, programmers, hobbyists, students, building fans, and the like together to share their latest projects. From informational displays to hands-on making opportunities, the daylong event provided the community with a unique (and free) opportunity to learn from local experts and celebrate innovation.
Making is not just a local phenomenon, but a movement that has swept the country. Maker Faires are used nationally to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) education and encourage the next generation of innovators. In fact, the White House will be holding its first Maker Faire this year.
Maketopolis’ creators saw it as an opportunity to promote STEM within the Tucson community. Patrick Marcus, President of Marcus Engineering, explained, “Hands-on involvement in STEM activities is known to establish excitement and interest in the minds of young children and to provide relevance to what they learn in school.” He feels that Maketopolis did just that.
Marcus Engineering used Maketopolis to display some of its most recent side projects, including a golf putter with an LED laser pointer incorporated to help line up shots. Raytheon Missile Systems was also present, teaching children about propulsion using a tabletop car with a rubber-band-powered propeller.
Community attendees also noted the educational merit that Maketopolis provided. Stephen Fairfield “could just see the mental gears turning, and kids thinking: ‘hey, this science stuff is really cool!’” He believes that “events like these will be life changing…and will benefit both [children] individually and the innovative spirit of the country.”
Xerocraft Hackerspace and Maker House, two downtown meeting spaces that promote technological and artistic design and innovation, hosted Maketopolis. The event was sponsored by Thomas R. Brown Foundations, Marcus Engineering, Microchip, AGM Container Controls, and Xeridiem.