The power of making together

The more I continue my journey into maker, the clearer it becomes that collaboration is at the heart of the whole movement. Ideas spur other ideas, one project leads to another, and the real joy of maker does not really happen until projects are shared.

So it was with real enthusiasm that I interviewed the organizer of the North Bay Make-A-Thon. In December this year, 500 people will gather in Sonoma to work through their ideas to create real things - ideas born out of necessity, curiosity and a shared purpose to create. Interview with Amee Saas, event organizer, and Leo Giotis, a 3rd grader who attended the last Make-A-Thon with his family. Read on to find out how you and your children can get involved. Meantime, I'll be looking out to create a team from the students in rafiakids maker and coding classes.

Claire Comins, Founder,

Interview with Amee Sas, SoCoNexus

What would you say is the most important outcome of the Make-A-Thon? One tangible outcome is that several people were hired by corporate scouts or even from their own teammates as a direct result from participating at the event.  An outcome that is not as easy to measure but perhaps more important is walking away from the event with confidence in your own potential to create.

What is the process - do teams need to be invited? Do they pitch ideas in advance? Teams can apply to attend on our website.  They do not need to know what they will create at the event, but if they do know we can try to assist them with materials and resources. Individuals can also apply alone and team up with folks at the event.

Plenty of people make cool stuff on their own. Do you have solo projects at the Make-A-Thon and, if not, why do you feel it’s important that people work in teams? A central component to the Make-A-Thon is collaboration and the magic that happens when people work together.  You can still come to the Make-A-Thon and create by yourself, but one of the criteria to win is team work.  Of course, having fun and making is its own reward.

How big are the teams? How do they find each other? The teams are 2-10 people and can come together before hand or during the event.  We have a “speed dating” component to hook you up with a team if you come solo.

Are there any age or experience guidelines? No! People of all ages and expertise levels are encouraged to participate. Check the rules on our website for folks under 18.

Tell us about winning ideas from previous years. The winning team last year created a coffee cup concept with an RFID chip that connects to an app on your phone.  The cup makes your payment, gives your order and encourages people to keep their cups, thereby reducing waste.  The team is actively working to bring the cup to market now and gained the attention of a few North Bay Angels at the event as well.  We had teams hack electric cars, build sculptures, control robots with gloves, create innovative foot apparel, laser cut shadow box educational tools, a way to alert drivers of approaching emergency vehicles and lots of other concepts too. The spectrum of outcomes was very broad.

What do you think makes this Make-A-Thon different to others?  The North Bay Make-A-Thon is where vision becomes reality.  There are no barriers to what can be created.  We are not driving an outcome.  The ceiling is your imagination. It’s a big open commercial building with tools, tables, high speed internet, food, music and 500 radical inspired people creating together. The strength of the event is what lies in possibility when we come together with intention to create. It’s magic.

Below, an interview with Leo Giotis, aged 8.

What did you make? I made a model of Falcon 9, the new Space X rocket.

Who was on your team? Our team members were me, Leo Giotis, my dad, Michael Giotis, my mom, kim Ribeiro, my brother, Van Giotis, my grandad, Michael Ribeiro, and my godfather, Marc Punzalan.

What did you enjoy most? Building, using tools, staying there the whole day. The snacks were good too!

What did you think was the coolest thing about the Make-A-Thon? Designing what you're going to make it. It can be anything. That's just really cool! It was great to see everybody else who was making awesome things and they were really encouraging too.

Why do you like making? Basically with making, you can make anything you design. It goes from an idea to an actual thing.

The essential info:

SoCoNexus Makeathon: December 3rd & 4th 2016, SOMO Village in Rohnert Park

Teams are 2 – 10 people each.  No age restrictions but contact organizers for info on what is needed for under 18s to participate.