Maker Faire Rome had its 6th Edition this past weekend and I was there to soak up the rather enormous atmosphere at its location in Fiera di Roma.
The venue is so large at 390,000 square metres, it is set well out of Rome in a vast exhibition complex with 10 enormous pavillions. Interconnecting walkways between the areas baked in 26 degree Sun so escaping into the temperature controlled rooms was pleasant to say the least!
Makers for Space
What made this years edition different from the past event was the inclusion of Makers for Space.
The opening ceremony of this years event was brought on loudly by some typical Maker-style Music – where all the instruments were made of recycled materials. The event started promptly at 10:30am with the Mayor of Rome in attendance and all the dignatories around to bring this event back after a year away.
Several Italian speakers later Don Eyles, a computer programmer of Apollo 14 stood up and took the capacity crowd through the stages of Apollo Missions and highlighting Apollo 14. He gave an insider look from someone who had participated in the build up to landing on the Moon, especially as First Man opens soon in Ireland; it brought the whole story to life.
Mark Hempsell from Astronautics and a member of the British Interplanetary Society which is the oldest space Space advocacy organisation in the world was up next. He told the crowd that even despite what happened on the 11th of October with the Soyuz flight that was aborted only 119 seconds into its flight. Space was still a far safer mode of transportation than many others. The only ever issue has been getting there and back. All other critical impact issues including fire and explosions have been met and overcome without a loss of life.
Maker for Education
After leaving the Opening Ceremony I started wandering through each of the 10 large pavillions and started getting a feel for the makers in each sector. As I walked through the interconnecting passages I was listening to the loud mutterings of several thousand kids. Day 1 is the Educational Day of Maker Faire Rome and allows pupils from the primary and secondary schools from around Italy to attend. This years event maxed out at 25,000 admissions.
These “few” lucky students have the opportunity to investigate all the makers in situ for free from 9am to 1pm and the hope is to garner interest and inspire minds.
Each year there is a Call for Schools to participate from around the world as well. Students from other schools and Universities are provided a platform to bring their designs and listen to feedback and even obtain sponsoreship and/or funding.
The atmosphere whilst the students were in attendance was very loud; yet it felt extremely upbeat and appreciative of the chance to explore with their teachers.
Throughout the 3 days of the event there is a dedicated area for Kids which is hosted by CodeMotion Kids. Their particular story is a success story for Maker Faire Rome. Since its’ inception they have sponsored this area and grown with the event over the last 6 years. They have also hosted other like minded businesses who would be in a similar space as themselves and help garner exposure for them to.
Space & Research
As the Maker for Space was a new sector for Maker Faire Rome I can see they went all out to make it as inspiring and interactive as possible. This year the focus is on Apollo Missions but I am sure this will change each year. They had several talks from both Mark Hempsell and Don Eyles each day and left them both open for questions from the crowd afterward and also by way of the BIS stand.
The British Interplanetary Society were able to bring in an array of large and small items that explained the breadth of the Apollo Missions with replicas and simulators as well.
— CiarasJourney (@JourneyCiaras) October 13, 2018
I did get a brief chance to speak to Fabrizio Bernardini who is SHARAD Operations Manager for the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter and he was delighted to bring this aspect of space research and science to the event. He hoped to make it clear with the exhibits around the pavilion that there is a large amount of people behind every single mission and that we could be given a genuine insight into their dedication and hard work with each one.
With these innovations being brought directly to the next generation and beyond; Maker Faire Rome have ensured that their ongoing legacy will be to inspire fresh ideas and will go on to get bigger each year.
Watch out for further articles on Maker Faire Rome 2018 over the coming days.