Celebrate creativity this Labor Day at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire

Make innovation a Labor Day tradition at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire! This family-friendly showcase is part science fair, part county fair, part food-truck festival, part something entirely new.

Join us on Monday, September 7, from 9:00 am – 5:00 pm for an inspiring day featuring:

  • Exhibitors from across the state
  • Local food trucks
  • Live music
  • Hands-on workshops for all ages


From bicycle-mounted bottle openers and fashion designs to robots that can throw a ball and mine real Moon dirt, the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire showcases a variety of Iowa innovations. Though our exhibitors’ interests and skills vary dramatically, they’re all committed to developing Iowa’s innovation ecosystem:

  • Area 515: See electric cars, 3-D printed objects and a DIY piano, presented by Des Moines’ non-profit community of Makers, tinkerers, artists and hobbyists.
  • CLenz Designs: Learn about the fashion-design process from sketches to the runway with local designer Cody Ritz. See a variety of patterns, fabrics and finished designs.
  • Cloud9 Robotics: You’ll have the chance to control a robot with Roosevelt High School’s competition robotics team.
  • Code Iowa: This innovative program teaches children how to code through mentorship and hands-on learning.
  • Delta Cartesian Hybrid Printer: This homemade 3-D printer is built from scrap parts using a unique motion system. Learn how to build one yourself for under $50.
  • Des Moines Drone User Group: See DM DUG’s drones zip and zoom through the air in live flight demos, and learn about the important role aerial robotics plays in agriculture, entrepreneurship and recreation.
  • DICE Robotics: Bring LEGO to life with Ankeny High School’s competition robotics team. Discover engineering, programming and teamwork with LEGO Mindstorms robots.
  • DMACC STEM: Learn about the science, technology, engineering and math programs offered at Des Moines Area Community College.
  • Dog Hat Lab: Meet a local artist who creates custom hats for your furry friends. See a cute dog modeling a homemade spacesuit and more.
  • Dream Studios: Experience the galactic side of graffiti. This local artist creates space-inspired pieces using spray paint and other household materials.
  • Electric Dream Machine: Transform almost any car into an eco-friendly ride with Electric Dream Machine.
  • Elevate Iowa and Vermeer: See welders in action from Elevate Iowa and Vermeer, and learn how you can get involved with this growing STEM field.
  • Fontenelle Supply Co.: See handcrafted leather goods and fashions, including wallets, belts and more.
  • FRC Team 4646 ASAP: Meet The Duke, the 2015 robot created by Des Moines high school students. See The Duke stack cans, pool noodles and more.
  • FRC Team Neutrino: Play catch with a robot, thanks to Team Neutrino from Ames. These competition bots can toss a giant ball across SCI’s Founders Hall, and they’ll even throw it right to you. Learn more about First Robotics League and Team Neutrino’s competition bots in three presentations at 9:30 am, 12:00 pm and 2:30 pm.
  • Geodesic Balloon Dome: Help local balloon artist Brian Becicka build a giant geodesic balloon dome throughout the day, and see him assemble a 10-foot-tall balloon bucky ball.
  • Henna Tattoos: It’s the ultimate innovative accessory. Get a custom Henna tattoo from a local artist.
  • Home Automation: Learn how you can switch lights on and off with your iPhone or Android device.
  • Human Foosball: Take the beloved game to the next level with Human Foosball YOU can play! Grab a group of friends, and work together to win the big match. The Des Moines Velociraptors, a local co-ed soccer team, will show off their skills and demonstrate this fast-paced exhibit.
  • Iowa Department of Natural Resources: These “stained-glass” displays catch light in an eco-friendly way! Made entirely from recycled bottles, each piece features a vibrant natural scene.
  • Iowa LEGO Users Group: Build iconic Iowa landmarks, and add them to an outline of the state built entirely with LEGOs.
  • ISU FLEx: Experience virtual-reality devices, 3-D printing, circuit bending and more at this interactive station. Rethink your world as you test head-mounted virtual-reality devices, see a 3-D printer in action, experiment with Little-Bits robotics kits and more.
  • ISU Lunabotics: Meet a real-life space rover! This robot was designed to mine Moon dirt, and a majority of its components were machined and manufactured by the ISU Lunabotics team.
  • Kemin: Learn how this biotechnology company isolates useful molecules from plants.
  • Laser Lightsabers: See master replicas of high-powered laser lightsabers from your favorite movies, and learn how they work.
  • Lead Resident Maker Laura Funk: Meet Laura, and see the wide variety of projects she’s made this summer at SCI, including sewable circuits and upcycled devices.
  • LT-1000 Trainer Board: Discover micro-controller programming with this circuit board and companion books developed by Maker Michael Landon. Use Raspberry Pi technology to light up eight LEDs.
  • Make to Innovate: Explore Making through hands-on projects and real-world challenges with Iowa State University’s Aerospace Engineering Department.
  • New World Steam: Meet a metal artist at this innnovative exhibit. Learn how basic welding techniques transform ordinary metal into whimsical sculptures.
  • NubNub: This local startup is reinventing riding with bicycle-mounted gadgets. Pop the top off a cold drink with the Pub-Nub bicycle-mounted bottle opener. Make a quick fix with the Tul-Nub bike-mounted multi-tool.
  • Portrait Studio: Have a custom portrait painted in just a few minutes at this exhibit. Gather your family or friends for a keepsake inspired by the Maker mindset. The artists will provide drawing supplies for participants to join the fun.
  • R2-D2: See a life-size, working replica of the beloved “Star Wars” robot.
  • String Revolution: Make your own string from almost anything. Watch local textile artist Laura Poresky spin everything from plastic bags to grass stems into a DIY cord at this roaming exhibit.
  • Team PrISUm: See a working solar car presented by Iowa State University’s Solar Car Team.
  • That Dragon, Cancer: This immersive video game about one man’s battle with cancer is part tribute and part spectacle of 3-D impressionism.

Food Trucks

Enjoy local fare from five food trucks:

  • Kona Ice
  • Pyro’s Pizza
  • Roadside Tacos
  • Say Cheese

IMAX Booth Tours

Experience the Blank IMAX Dome Theater in a whole new way with a behind-the-scenes tour led by SCI IMAX Projectionists. See the reels of film that bring your favorite movie to life, and get a glimpse of the high-tech systems that keep our state-of-the-art projectors running smoothly.

Live Music

See a variety of local bands, and experience flaming karaoke (literally!) around the SCI grounds:

Fire Karaoke: Visualize sound with this musical and pyrotechnic spectacle. Part science experiment and part one-of-a-kind performance, a singer’s voice is transformed into visible, flaming sound waves with a Rubens’ Tube built by a member of the SCI staff.

  • 11:00 am – 12:00 pm: Dylan Boyle
  • 12:00-1:00 pm: In Rooms
  • 1:00-2:00 pm: Ira Grace and The Bible Belt Prophets


  • DIY Doodle Bots: Build a robot that can draw with a few simple items! Create one-of-a-kind artwork with SCI’s resident makers.
  • LEGOs Go Digital: Join the Iowa LEGO Users Group in designing innovative LEGO structures using app technology. Then, bring your dream design to life as you build your custom piece.
  • Reusapalooza: Transform an old CD into a cute fish decoration with the Iowa DNR and Iowa Waste Exchange. 
  • Transform Your T-Shirt: Turn an old t-shirt into a DIY drawstring bag with staff from the Des Moines Art Center.
  • Center.
  • Zip-Line Flyers: Build a customized zip-line racer, and watch your contraption fly down the high wire.

Apply to be an exhibitor at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire


Working on your latest invention, gadget or gizmo? Show off your creative project at the 2015 Des Moines Mini Maker Faire!

From coders to tinkerers to crafters, this festival of all things innovation unites Makers from across interests and skill levels on Labor Day at the Science Center of Iowa!

More than 30 Makers exhibited their work at the inaugural Des Moines Mini Maker Faire in 2014. Highlights included a full-sized, functional replica of R2-D2, a geodesic balloon dome assembled by participants throughout the day and Oculus Rift technology from the Iowa State University Virtual Reality Program.

Don’t miss this video recap of the first-ever Des Moines Mini Maker Faire:

We need your innovative spirit to make it even bigger in 2015! Join us on Monday, September 7, for the second-annual Des Moines Mini Maker Faire. Whether you’re a first-time tinkerer or an experienced inventor, we welcome a wide variety of projects:

  • 3-D printing
  • Arduino
  • Carpentry
  • Chemistry
  • Crafting
  • DJing
  • Electronics
  • Filmmaking
  • Gaming
  • Glass-blowing
  • LEGO
  • Music
  • Robotics
  • Sculpture
  • Sewing
  • Stop-motion animation
  • Upcycling/DIY
  • Visual Arts
  • Welding

Don’t see your favorite Making activity on this list? Apply to be an exhibitor, and tell us about it!

Application deadline is August 3.

Discover the Maker mindset at the Science Center of Iowa this summer

Make@SCI is much more than an exhibit… It’s a mindset.

Making is a way of thinking. It’s about using familiar objects in unfamiliar ways, focusing on the process rather than the end result.

Along with a Makers Studio that will be a permanent presence on the Main Level floor beginning May 14 , makers-in-residence will lead workshops, projects and special events throughout the summer.

Every two weeks will focus on one aspect of Making — from fort-building, robotics, circuitry, even fashion design — and “Studio Time” every day from 1:00-3:00 pm will allow visitors to participate in extended making activities surrounding each theme.

It all culminates with the 2nd annual Des Moines Mini Maker Faire on Monday, September 7, 2015 (Labor Day).

Join us to learn what it means to be a Maker — not just a consumer — this summer at SCI.

Meet a Maker

With the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire less than a week away, it’s time to start meeting our makers! Check out this post from the SCI blog by Taylor Soule which features one of the first Makers to apply to the DMMMF:

When Jason Cross received the first issue of “Make” magazine in 2005, he felt an instant connection to the content and mission. But years would pass before he turned that Making intrigue into… well, R2-D2.

Last year, Cross began building a full-scale replica of the beloved “Star Wars” robot.

“I hadn’t really fiddled with anything until I started last year, but I’ve been a Maker fan,” Cross said.

His journey from fan to Maker peaks at the inaugural Des Moines Mini Maker Faire on Monday, September 1, at the Science Center of Iowa, where Cross will exhibit R2-D2.

In the world of mass-produced everything, Cross cites a growing sense of DIY pride in the Making movement’s recent popularity.

“I think we seem to be moving toward this artisanal movement in a way where people are moving away from mass-produced,” Cross said. “It’s still there, but there seems to be more pride in people learning how to do things themselves.”

Thanks to how-to videos and online sharing, the Maker community has expanded from basements and garages to encompass a global network of innovators.

“Now, you can watch YouTube videos and communicate more readily,” Cross said. “You can communicate with a small group of people in your community or people around the world to figure out how to do things.”

When people hear about Cross’ R2-D2 contribution to the Making movement, they often react with surprise.

“Some are a little incredulous like, ‘Really?’” he said.

He’s quick to mention that Makers are a community. If Cross has questions or needs a part for R2-D2, he can count on a network of fellow Makers and “Star Wars” enthusiasts. Though they’re all building replicas of the same robot, Cross said Makers value inventor and project diversity. 

“They often ask, ‘Do you have a kit?’ or, ‘How are you doing it?’ and it goes back to, ‘There’s not really a kit, but there’s a group of people who make them,’” Cross said. “People who help each other to figure out how to do it their own way.”

Meet the Makers

It’s the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth. It’s a family-friendly showcase of invention. It’s part science fair, part county fair, part something entirely new. It’s the inaugural Des Moines Mini Maker Faire!

What’s in store for you on Monday, September 1, at the Science Center of Iowa? A whole lot of showing and telling, courtesy of inventors and makers from across the state!

As you wander the exhibitor booths, tinker in the LEGO area, witness the zinging lights of a Star Theater laser show and experiment in STEM workshops, we encourage you to wonder, “Why?”

The Faire will feature a wide variety of Iowans dedicated to advancing the state’s rich STEM culture. 


  • HiFi Speakers: Experience the highest quality sound!
  • R2-D2: Yeah, you read that right — the beloved “Star Wars” character will make an appearance at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire. The robot boasts high-tech engineering, with RC control and Arduino automation.
  • FRC Team 4646 ASAP: This Des Moines-based robotics team unites 15 high school students and seven mentors to design and build a robot to compete in the FIRST Robotics Competition.
  • Iowa LEGO Users Group: The Iowa LUG will present interactive LEGO activities for Maker Faire attendees, including LEGO Marble Mazes and LEGO/Duplo construction.
  • Balloon Geodesic Dome: This exhibit needs your help! Attendees will inflate and attach 165 balloons throughout the day to build a geodesic dome reaching five feet in height and 10 feet in diameter.
  • CoderDojo: In today’s tech-savvy world, coding is an ever-expanding industry. CoderDojo will present information about its coding education programs
  • Elevate Iowa: An Iowa campaign to promote careers and educational pathways in advanced manufacturing. Representatives from Vermeer will join with a small virtual reality welding simulator, American Welding Society comic books and careers in welding booklets.
  • Forward Learning Experience: Industrial engineering encompasses a wide variety of exciting, cutting-edge work. Industrial design graduate students will teach attendees about the growing fields of CNC programming, computer-aided drafting, 3D scanning, 3D printing and more!  
  • Jewels Academy-Young Emerging Scientists: Fashion and 3D design unite in this exhibit. The Jewels Academy will teach girls how to design in 3D (and create custom tote bags for their tech projects).  
  • Drop Spinning: This exhibit has only two requirements: fingers and fiber (and creativity, of course). A drop-spinning expert will demonstrate how to twist fibers, plastic and more into yarn or cord.
  • Dream: Space telescopes aren’t the only way to capture atmospheric art. This exhibit uses simple materials like spray paint to create vivid representations of the universe.
  • Safety Cane: This fiber-optic cane is visible from over a mile away, improving user safety.
  • Beer Crazy: Iowa has an ever-growing DIY industry, and Beer Crazy will showcase its contributions at the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire.
  • Electric Vehicle Conversions: These three electric cars don’t emit any fumes, benefiting the environment.
  • The Canine Cabana: Invented by 14-year-old Marc Trepanier, this patent-pending pet shelter can be assembled in a snap — no tools, nails, nuts or bolts needed!
  • DICE FTC: Techies, don’t miss this exhibitor! The DICE FTC team will exhibit computers, a competition-ready robot and a 3D printer.
  • Sports Car Club of America (Des Moines Valley Region): Experience the scientific side of racing with this outdoor exhibitor. The DMVR SCCA will present DIY racing projects and a photo gallery of the racecar-building process!
  • Portrait Studio: Watch as an artist draws you, and try your hand at drawing someone else’s portrait.
  • Dog Hats from Space: Ever wondered what a dog would look like with a space helmet on? Visit the Dog in a Fez booth to see.
  • Traveling TARDIS: Calling all Whovians! Step inside a hand-crafted replica of the “Dr. Who” trademark police phone box.
  • Iowa Brewers Union: Always wanted to brew your own beer but weren’t sure where to start? Visit the Iowa Brewers Union exhibitor booth for tips and information on the brewing process.

More makers are coming! Check back soon for updates.

Last day for Maker Applications!

What do R2-D2, geodesic domes, LEGOS, Canine Cabanas and ukulele arena rock have in common? They’re all on board for the first-ever Des Moines Mini Maker Faire on Monday, September 1, at the Science Center of Iowa!

Today is the last day to apply to be a maker! Don’t miss out on this opportunity. Not sure if you are a maker? If your projects include any of the following (or anything else that’s fun and interesting), YOU’RE A MAKER!

  • Robotics
  • Electronics
  • LEGO
  • Architecture
  • Unusual Machinery
  • Handicrafts
  • Textiles
  • Chemistry Experiments
  • Gardening
  • Innovations
  • Interactive Art
  • Repurposing/Upcycling
  • Sustainable Living
  • Flying Machines
  • Handmade Instruments
  • Life-size Games
  • Inventions

Apply today!

The Maker Faire is Coming to Des Moines

The nationally-recognized Maker Faire is coming to Des Moines! The inaugural Des Moines Mini Maker Faire is scheduled for Monday, September 1, 2014 at the Science Center of Iowa in Downtown Des Moines.


The Call for Makers, Artists, Performers and Crafters is open now through August 15.


Projects can include robotics, green tech, DIY science, radio, rocketry, unusual tools or techniques, whimsical creations and more. Any groups or individuals interested in presenting their project, activity or performance in this event should complete the simple application here by August 15. There is no cost to exhibit at the Faire.

Maker Faire is the Greatest Show (and Tell) on Earth


Maker Faire a family-friendly showcase of invention, creativity and resourcefulness. It’s a community-based learning event that inspires everyone to become a maker and connect to people and projects in their local community. At Maker Faire, you’ll find arts and crafts, science and engineering, food and music, fire and water – but what makes this event special is that all these interesting projects and smart, creative people come together.


Makers range from tech enthusiasts to crafters to homesteaders to scientists to garage tinkerers. They are of all ages and backgrounds. The aim of Maker Faire is to entertain, inform, connect and grow this community.


The original Maker Faire event was held in San Mateo, CA, and in 2014 celebrated its ninth annual show with some 1,100 makers and 130,000 people in attendance. World Maker Faire in New York, the other flagship event, has grown in four years to 600+ makers and 75,000 attendees. Detroit, Kansas City, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Orlando, Silver Spring, Paris, Rome, Oslo, Trondheim, Tokyo, Newcastle (UK) and Shenzhen are the home of larger-scale, “featured” 2014 Maker Faires, and more than 120 community-driven, independently organized Mini Maker Faires are now being produced around the United States and the world – including right here in Des Moines.


The Des Moines Mini Maker Faire is sponsored by MAKE magazine, Register Media, Kemin Industries, UTC Aerospace Systems, Iowa Science Foundation, The Greater Des Moines Partnership and Substance Architecture.


Follow the development of the Des Moines Mini Maker Faire at http://desmoinesmakerfaire.com, on Twitter at @DSMmakerfaire and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/dsmmakerfaire Des Moines Mini Maker Faire is independently organized and operated under license from Maker Media, Inc.