Over the weekend of November 6-8, Barnes and Noble will host its first-ever Mini Maker Faire. Open to all ages, event-goers will be exposed to the maker community through product demonstrations, learning sessions, and hands-on experiences.
The nationwide event is a partnership between Barnes and Noble and Maker Media, the organization behind Maker Faire and Make Magazine.
Each day of the event has three distinct sections. The Make Workspace is a product expo that showcases skills like programming, as well as new tech like robots, drones, and 3D printers. The next aspect is Meet the Maker, where participants can meet and interact with leaders in the maker movement. Finally, users can get hands-on experience making with provided materials and collaborating with other folks in the process.
While the Maker Faire is a new development for the bookstore chain, Barnes and Noble has an established history working with Maker Media. Sherry Huss, co-founder of Maker Faire and vice president of event production and operations, said that Barnes and Noble has been carrying Make Magazine since its launch in 2005 and does well with a selection of Make Books as well.
Earlier this year, Barnes and Noble's vice president of toys and games, Kathleen Campisano, and her team attended a Maker Faire in San Mateo, California. That's when the idea for the Mini Maker Faire first sprouted.
"We observed first-hand the kind of collaborations and conversations that occurred there, specifically surrounding designing, building, innovating and 'making,'" Campisano said. "It became clear to us that our customers' interests were very much aligned with the movement and that our stores could become the local platform for makers across the country."
So Campisano and Huss began brainstorming and the idea started to take shape.
As a bookstore, promoting literacy is obviously important to Barnes and Noble. However, Campisano said, providing better access to tech knowledge and skills through the Mini Maker Faire plays into a bigger part of what they believe it means to be truly literate in this day and age.
"We want to help demystify technology and cut through the misunderstanding that you have to be an engineer in order to understand the basic principles of coding, programming and robotics," Campisano said.
Whether participants want to attend one day, or all three, the hope is that it opens their eyes to the kinds of things you can build and accomplish with those skills.
"The reality is, making really takes place at a community level. And, I really like the idea of actually making the local Barnes and Nobles a place for the community to come together," Huss said.
Huss said the makers that come to the Maker Faire give of their time and typically want to share their knowledge. She said the Mini Maker Faire could be a great way to get the leaders in the local maker community to step up.
"There's an audience for just about everything," Huss said. "Because there's a physical object, it leads to a story—and that story is how you made it, what you were thinking, where you got that part, could you do it this way."
While Barnes and Noble hasn't said whether this will be the first in a series of maker events, or simple a one-off event, the hope is that it will bring more attention to the maker movement overall.
Find your local Barnes and Noble, and see if it's hosting a Mini Maker Faire here.
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Conner Forrest has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Conner Forrest is a Senior Editor for TechRepublic. He covers enterprise technology and is interested in the convergence of tech and culture.