Calling all creators: Superior Fab Lab hosts MakerFest 2024

Add some art, some concocting and more than a dash of science and technology to the traditional build-a-better-mousetrap crowd, and you’ve got today’s “maker” community.

MakerFest 2024 is a celebration of that spirit by a Keweenaw Peninsula non-profit on a mission to educate and enable creative people of all ages by providing access to tools, mentoring, and educational resources.

What’s happening: From noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, March 23, Superior Fab Lab will host the second annual free event at Houghton High School. This year’s theme: Making in progress! 

"This year's MakerFest is a celebration of creativity, innovation, and community spirit,” says Jason Mack, vice president of development at the MTEC SmartZone in Houghton/Hancock and a member of Superior Fab Lab. “We are thrilled to bring together the Copper Country community for an immersive experience where attendees can explore STEM-based creations and connect with local organizations.”

Maker culture is described by Wikipedia as “a contemporary subculture representing a technology-based extension of DIY culture that intersects with hardware-oriented parts of hacker culture and revels in the creation of new devices as well as tinkering with existing ones."

MakerFest not only showcases makers and their creations, but it also aims to foster a sense of curiosity and to inspire the next generation of makers.  “MakerFest celebrates all kinds of making,” says Superior Fab Lab member Kirstin Hensley, an artist whose career began in computer science. “At last year's event we had woodworking, textile arts, pottery, stained glass, electronics, metal work, robotics, Lego creations, brewing, and composting.”

She says participants last year could disassemble and reassemble chainsaws, build a bird feeder, disassemble broken devices and use the parts to create art. “The Lego build station was very popular,” she says, "as was driving the robots with the robotics team.”

What’s Makerfest 24: Hands-on exploration opportunities will abound again at MakerFest 24.  “We're organizing the activities and presentations for it now, “ Hensley says. “Individuals and organizations are encouraged to sign up as Featured Makers and Partners to share their skills, resources, and programming with the community through activities, demonstrations, or presentations.”

Featured makers will demonstrate, present, or guide an interactive activity with participants, and may also sell the products they make. In addition, makers can register online to submit an invention/device/product into competition in various categories. Entries will be on display, with prizes awarded. 

About Superior Fab Lab: Superior Fab Lab bills itself as a maker community that connects people of all ages, backgrounds, and experiences with people, virtual space, monthly training sessions, and the goal of having its own physical space. 

Superior Fab Lab has acquired, through donations, two sewing machines and several handheld power tools which are available for check out from the Portage Lake District Library makerspace. 

“We've held workshops online and at the library on topics such as microcontrollers, sewing, and stained glass,” Hensley says. “We're happy to help people share their knowledge with the community by organizing such events. We also have an online group for makers on, where we can help each other on projects, borrow personal tools, and organize events.”

Partners: Superior Fab Lab partners have regional programming that supports creativity and making and will share and promote their programming with attendees. They include K-12 Partners:​Team 857 Superior Roboworks, Make It UP! College-level: The Alley Makerspace and Open-Source Hardware Enterprise from MTU; Adults: Superior Fab Lab, CCC Arts Center, and other trainers/programs targeting adults in the area.
Rosemary Parker has worked as a writer and editor for more than 40 years. She is a regular contributor to Rural Innovation Exchange, UPword and other Issue Media Group publications. 
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