Author Archives: Valerie Thompson

The Makers are here!

The first-ever DC Mini Maker Faire is off to a running start.  Here’s a sneak peek of some of our exhibits.

Please join us today from 11am-7pm in southeast DC’s Yards Park!

Click here for more information:

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George Crowdsourcington: a larger than life 3D rendering of our first president.  Every piece was produced by a different volunteer, each with their own 3D printers.


Question: How do you hang a 40 ft pterodactyl made of bamboo ?  

Answer: Very Carefully.

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A 3D rendering of the White House at the capitol’s first ever Maker Faire? How appropriate.

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A volunteer answers questions about how the National Institutes of Health are involved in making.  (Hint: think 3D models of frog dissections and self-assembling viruses!)

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Volunteers assemble “Shelter 2.o”, an open-source design for digitally-fabricated transitional housing and emergency situations

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Making– it’s for everyone!



Show us what you make!

3D Valerie

My 3D printed mini-me!

We showed you ours– it’s time for you to show us yours!

Post a video, picture or snappy summary showing off your proudest #makermoment today on social media to help get people excited about making.

FYI: The DC forecast says 85 and partly sunny for Sunday–  perfect weather for making!

See you this weekend!

Local maker uses high and low tech tools to bring ideas to life


Maker: Katie Schreyer

Proudest Maker Moment: “Modifying my printer to have a heat bed without instructions (there weren’t any). I figured it all out on my own.”

Katie Schreyer doesn’t think she should have to choose between 3D printing and lacemaking.

“I love making because I love seeing something that I only imagined become real,” says Schreyer. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a piece of lace with a custom design, or a new bracket for a broken shelf.”

Schreyer stumbled across a how-to website on lacemaking several years ago and quickly became enchanted with the history and rich tradition surrounding what she describes as a “dying art”.

“I think it’s valuable to remember how things used to be done, and how beautiful things can be made with the simplest tools,” says Schreyer.

But Schreyer doesn’t discriminate when it comes to the tools she uses to bring her ideas to life. After finding a relatively cheap build-your-own 3D printer kit last year, she jumped head first into the high-tech 3D printing craze.

For Schreyer, it’s about more than just her own making. It’s about showing kids that certain types of making aren’t “just for girls” or “just for boys”.

At Sunday’s DC Mini Maker Faire, expect to see her darting back and forth between the 3D models of miniature scale robots that she and her husband Dustin build together, and the hands-on station where she’ll help visitors try their hands at traditional fiber art.

It might make for a hectic day, but for Schreyer, having the opportunity to share her passion for making is worth it.

“I love the freedom of being able to make pretty much anything myself without depending on someone else to envision, design, and manufacture it.”

“Spanning Tree” gives women a place to make

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Katie Bechtold (center, right) and Elizabeth Smith (far right) promote “Spanning Tree” , a new DC-based makerspace for women, at the 2014 USA Science and Engineering Festival in Washington, D.C.

Maker: Erica Stratton

Proudest Maker Moment: “The time I 3D printed a ring and had it fit on the first try!”

Erica Stratton’s mom didn’t call it “making”, but her DIY know-how had a big influence on Stratton’s identity as a maker.

“I learned all of my basic handyman skills from her, as well as how to mix watercolors, sew, and manipulate needle-nose pliers to make jewelry or fix electronics,” says Stratton.

But as an adult, finding the right place to make wasn’t easy. Either the space didn’t have what she was looking for, or she didn’t feel completely at ease.

Enter Spanning Tree, a new DC-based makerspace that bills itself as a “feminist community workshop where members can work on projects in a comfortable, welcoming environment.”

According to Stratton, Spanning Tree is different from similar spaces because they define “making” in a way that’s much broader—from 3D printing and laser cutting to sewing and other handicrafts.

Most importantly, Spanning Tree feels like a good fit.

“I feel like I don’t have to hide my roots, and feel more comfortable asking questions in a space like this,” says Stratton.

Representatives from Spanning Tree will showcase member-made items and answer questions at Sunday’s DC Mini Maker Faire.

Celebrity Teen Maker will attend DC Mini Maker Faire


Joey Hudy and President Barrack Obama launch a marshmallow across the East Room at the 2012 White House Science Fair

Maker: Joey Hudy

Proudest Maker Moment: “Finding that complete strangers have used my products and liked them.”

Launched into the spotlight in 2012 by a particularly memorable flying marshmallow, Joey Hudy has made it a point to use his celebrity status to spread the word about making.

But it was only four years ago that Hudy himself was introduced to the maker movement, having received tickets to attend the San Francisco Maker Faire for his 12th birthday.

“I had always been making things around the house, but never knew there was a whole world out there of makers,” says Hudy.

While Hudy loves the experience of building and the satisfaction of seeing a project all the way through, one of the best things about making has nothing to do with the end product.

“When you’re making, you get to meet a lot of great people,” says Hudy. “I have made a lot of great friends.”

Hudy and his mother, Julie Hudy, a self-described “maker mom”, will be on hand at Sunday’s DC Mini Maker Faire to field questions about how kids can get started.

According to Julie, it’s all about encouraging kids to pursue what interests them.

“Let your child be who he wants to be,” says Julie. “That’s when all the magic happens.”

One week until the DC Mini Maker Faire!

tools on bridge

Crafters, tinkerers, amateur inventors, and DIY newbies are invited to jump head first into making next Sunday, June 8, at the first-ever DC Mini Maker Faire.

With numerous confirmed exhibitors set to delight visitors with hands-on activities, demos, and information about how to get involved in the Maker Movement, this free, all-ages, event is the perfect way to spend a Sunday afternoon in the district.

The DC Mini Maker Faire will be held in Yards Park in southeast Washington D.C. from 11am-7pm.


Baltimore organization creates makerspace for urban teens

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A student works on a project at the Digital Harbor Foundation’s Tech Center in Baltimore, MD

Maker: Shawn Grimes, Director of Technology, Digital Harbor Foundation

Proudest Maker Moment: “when I built my first 3D printer just over a year ago”

For Shawn Grimes, making is all about learning new things and pushing yourself outside of your comfort zone.

“Everyone can consume, but not enough of us take the daring step to create and make,” says Grimes.

A long time “software maker”, Grimes discovered a hidden passion for hardware and physical making when he signed on as Director of Technology at the Digital Harbor Foundation, which recently launched a Baltimore-based makerspace for young people, ages 12 to 18, called the Tech Center.

“I’ve never thought of myself as good with my hands or tools,” says Grimes. “I like having an undo button.”

As his own confidence grows, Grimes feels the same level of pride watching students discover their own knack for making. Recalling the time he watched a student build a 3D printer, he can’t help but get a little emotional.

“Thinking about how huge of an accomplishment that was for him and the impact that has had on his life still makes my eyes water,” says Grimes.

Representatives from the Digital Harbor Foundation will be on hand at the upcoming DC Mini Maker Faire to talk about how young people can get involved in the maker movement.

Grime’s advice for new makers?

“Start right now! Make mistakes and use the internet for help. Google and YouTube are your friends.”

Making the engineers of the future


Maker: Dorothy Jones-Davis, co-organizer, DC Mini Maker Faire

Proudest Maker Moment: “Seeing a kid’s face light up as they made a paper circuit light up!”

As a scientist, Dorothy Jones-Davis sees the Maker Movement as a great way to introduce STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) to kids of all backgrounds. But for Jones-Davis, the maker movement is also personal.

“Most of my making is with my five year old daughter,” say Jones-Davis. “She’s really into art and design, so we look for ways to make that blend art and story-telling with STEM concepts.”

In her current position as an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Science Foundation, Jones-Davis spends a lot of time thinking about ways to introduce engineering to kids who aren’t naturally drawn to STEM subjects.

“A lot of kids don’t know what engineering is,” says Jones-Davis. “Making can help expose them to different types of activities an engineer might do, making it easier for them to picture themselves as engineers.”

According to Jones-Davis, events like Maker Faires can help by getting kids to start thinking about careers in science and engineering sooner.

“The more pathways we can create to STEM fields, and the earlier we can create them, the better,” says Jones- Davis.


Two weeks until the DC Mini Maker Faire!

In two weeks, makers will descend on the District to attend the first-ever DC Mini Maker Faire.

Amateur tinkerers and DIY enthusiasts “from 2 to 92” will have the opportunity to interact with experienced makers at this free, all-ages event, which will be held at Yards Park in southeast Washington D.C. from 11am-7pm.

Find out if you have what it takes to be a maker on June 8, 2014.

See you there!


Yards Park, SE Washington D.C. Image credit: Elvert Barnes

For more information, visit


“Making” a Better Classroom


Maker: Kaye Ebelt, Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator at the National Science Foundation

Proudest Maker Moment: “Getting back into computer coding and designing things from scratch”

A year ago, Kaye Ebelt had never heard of the maker movement.

As an elementary school teacher in Missoula, Montana, Ebelt had taught everything from language arts, to math, science, and even robotics, but it wasn’t until arriving in Washington D.C. in the fall that she began to consider the potential ways making could enhance her classroom curriculum.

“I thought making was just 3D printing,” says Ebelt. “It encompasses so much more than I imagined.”

With engineering concepts set to debut in the K-12 curriculum in the 2016-17 school year, teachers across the country are scrambling to assemble resources and lesson plans that incorporate more design and materials science. According to Ebelt, making could be a great way to introduce these concepts.

“Engineering education involves decision making, design sketching, construction and testing of physical products,” says Ebelt. “All of these concepts can be explored in the maker space.”

Ebelt and her colleagues will debut a scale model of a futuristic city, complete with high-tech buildings, space-age vehicles, and smart energy systems at the DC Mini Maker Faire on June 8, 2014. The team designed and created each component using CAD software and 3D printers.

Having mastered many of the tools of the maker trade over the last year, Ebelt hopes more teachers will embrace the maker movement as a way to teach engineering concepts and engage students who might not have a knack for traditional math and science topics.

“The best engineering students aren’t always the best math and science students,” says Ebelt. “Being able to solve problems with your hands is a skill that’s often overlooked.”