For the first time I’ve had the opportunity to attend an event dubbed “The Greatest Show and Tell on Earth”, and it was really the Greatest!! World Maker Faire which took place this weekend at the New York Hall of Science was simply a treasure trove of fun and learning.
I haven’t had the pleasure of attending this event (now in its fifth year) before; each year something had prevented me from going. One such reason is that being a Sabbath observer, the Saturday day is not on the menu, and Sundays in the past two years hadn’t worked out. (Last year it coincided with the Jewish holiday of Sukkot.)
In the past three years, since I discovered Make Magazine and their Faire, I really wanted to go to this “show and tell”, and even more importantly I really wanted to take my students to the event. It promised to be a place that would inspire all kinds of learning opportunities, a great way to meet people in the eye of the maker movement, and to just see all the great new things that people are working on. It was all that and even more! It is truly a perfect event for learning that doesn’t seem like “learning”.
So here’s something I don’t understand: why does the Maker Faire take place only over the weekend when school is not in session? Wouldn’t it be great if schools can make a day trip out of it? I’m not sure if many schools have the liberty to skip class and take their students to an event that can really inspire creativity, imagination, awareness of possibilities etc, but I presume that enough schools in this great and vast city would allow for such a wonderful opportunity for informal but possibly life altering education to make it worthwhile to keep the fair going another day.
And then there’s the price. Why in the world is this event so expensive?
Now I generally assume that there’s a good reason for things. Sometimes these reasons that are not always apparent and obvious; it is always a good idea to consider the possibilities. Furthermore, in my general experience with the folks in the makersphere, they are usually altruistic and passionate about their makering. That’s why I was particularly surprised by the hefty price tag for this wonderful event.
I perfectly understand that putting together an event of this magnitude is financially a massive undertaking. But the tickets are not the only source of income for the fair. Booth rentals, for one, which I heard from the makers, start at around $2,500. Corporate sponsorships are another. It seems that such an event, which is expanding with each year, should be becoming more affordable for the visitors.
Looking around the Maker Faire yesterday, it was striking how little minorities were represented at this event. In today’s world where there seems to be a national effort to strengthen STEM education, not making this super inspiring event more widely available is truly an opportunity missed.
As I was contemplating composing this bit of frustration expression, I decided to google the proper procedure for open letter writing. I soon realized that writing an open letter right now would be more cliche than spilling a bucket with ice and water over my head.
(In truth, I’m not sure if the term is even at all useful in the internet age. Everything we post online is open. Even if the text doesn’t conclude with “sincerely”, it still technically serves the same purpose as the open letter, namely to elicit a response to some issue by making the request public.)
So if anyone is at all listening, please consider making the show go on for more days. For many children the only chance to make it to the show is by going to it with their class. If the organizers of the show cannot afford to extend the show for another day, then I appeal to the show sponsors to consider making it more available. And finally if the sponsors can not increase their giving, then I urge any interested non-profit or the municipality of New York to get involved and get more New York kids to experience this truly one of a kind event.