Our Spring Break started on Friday and since we just returned from Walt Disney World and our Disney Dream Cruise, we wanted to head to one of our favorite cities close to home, Chicago and visit the Museum of Science and Industry to experience the Make Festival and the Make Shop. I love sharing my childhood favorites like the Museum of Science and Industry (MSI) with my girls. Chicago’s my hometown and I love nothing more than sharing it with my girls.
Chicago is one of our favorite Spring Break destinations because it’s a quick drive away, we get to visit with my parents and sisters and you will never run out of things to do. In fact, last year we spent the entire week drinking in all the sights and sounds of the Chicago.
We were extra excited to head to the city and MSI this year because they are hosting their first ever Spring Make Festival. What is the Spring Make Festival, you ask? It’s four weeks of MSI hosting a special program for expressing your creativity, including hands-on activities like a high-tech maker workshop (the Make Shop), evening events dedicated to brewing and collective digital art and a marathon Mini Maker Faire. There is something for everyone of all ages but I was most excited about my girls getting some hands-on time with technology.
I remember when I first got to Purdue, everyone I knew was studying to be an engineer and I had no idea what an engineer was or did. I heard “engineer” and my mind automatically went to a train engineer. I don’t want my girls’ to go through life not knowing all the amazing places science and math can take them. I want them to embrace all things STEM.
I’ve come a long way from the girl who was white-knuckling her word processor. I did not go gently into the Internet era but now, I don’t know what I’d do without it. I literally make my living on the Internet. I am one of the biggest tech geeks you could ever hope to meet and I want that for my girls. Let’s just skip the whole white knuckling part.
The first ever Spring Make Festival, which runs March 9 through April 8, offers a robust combination of daily activities and special events designed to help guests see themselves as designers, makers, and tinkerers including the MSI Chicago Mini
Maker Faire; a facilitated workshop offering LED circuitry building, 3D printing, and vinyl cutting; Hebocon, a renowned “crappy” robot competition, adults-only events and new hands-on challenges. Hands-on high tech 101 and the facilitators make it all seem so easy and attainable. My girls never felt overwhelmed with any of the concepts.
Simply put, the Spring Make Festival is a vacation from all the things you have to do and an opportunity to create your heart’s desire using today’s most technologically advanced methods. You are truly only limited by your imagination. It’s the place where your innate creativity meets high tech and anything is possible. It’s teaching our children that they can rule the world with their minds.
Spring Make Festival is a celebration of high and low-tech ways that people, especially kids, can tap into their creative potential and see firsthand that there are multiple paths to a STEM-focused career. The Spring Make Festival introduces children to the wonders of modern technology in a way that invites participation and does not overwhelm.
My girls are 10 and 13-years-old and they loved the Make Shop. The Make Shop is a place where you and your children can try out the technology literally reshaping the worlds of design and production. My girls were in STEM heaven. Kids today are so tech savvy that they have high expectations from their experiences and my girls were not disappointed.
The Make Shop introduces you to the kinds of technology that you’ve been hearing a lot about: 3D printing and building, vinyl cutting and LED circuit building. This new facilitated experience allows you the chance to try out some of these cutting-edge fabrication tools in an approachable, beginner-friendly environment. What’s more, you get to bring home the proof you did- a custom craftwork; a constant reminder of the inner designer, maker and tinkerer in all of us. A reminder that there isn’t anything that we can’t do if we set our minds and hearts to it.
We are all makers. It is intrinsically human to create, tinker, innovate and express ourselves through made objects. As you create, you will learn about problem-solving skills, the diverse community of local Chicago makers and how making can have a positive impact on communities. By exchanging ideas, we push one another forward to invent and build new and innovative things.
As a tech aficionado, I felt like I was at a tiny CES. I’ve railed on and on about the wonders of 3D printing and now my girls saw it up close and firsthand. My 10-year-old rattled off about a million things she wants to create and invent on a 3D printer. She’s already put it at the top of her Christmas list for next year. I just loved seeing their eyes light up when they accomplished these feats of technological wonder.
The Make Shop takes technology that seems like far off ideas to most people and breaks it down into digestible parts. It takes it from overwhelming and unachievable to hands on. It removes the doubt and replaces it with, you did it!
In the Make Shop, you have access to new tools and that is empowering. It inspires you to creatively problem-solve and invent. We shape our world with the ideas we share and the things we make.
Select experiences and events require an additional ticket purchase. A full schedule with pricing along with additional information is available online at msichicago.org/springmake