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Group fosters CREATE-ivity

Regional Makers Faire in talks

It began when five inventors met through Craigslist and reddit.

They needed space to create, to build and to inspire others to explore the possibilities of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

More than 70 people have since participated in Spokane CREATE! in the past year as the founders host a gathering each Wednesday in the back of the Banner Fuel building.

The group evolved because its founders were disappointed that after people leave K-12 schools or universities, no programs existed to support a place “to tinker,” said Dan McGee, co-founder of Spokane CREATE!

“There is little to no support or continuing education for people who want to learn beyond their employment. I would like to see that expanded and offered for everyone regardless of age or education level,” he said.

The space where inventors, tinkerers and builders – all technologically inclined – meet could best be a described as wood shop in a garage. It can get messy, but that’s “part of the joy,” McGee said. It’s a place for participants to express themselves using art and/or technology.

And now the Mobius Science Center is getting involved. Phil Lindsey, the science center’s CEO, wants to expand the fledgling group’s efforts by hosting a Maker Faire, perhaps by next spring. Everyone should have a chance to explore innovation, Lindsey said, calling it “big fun.”

Maker Faires are family-friendly events that bill themselves as “part science fair, part county fair.” Held around the globe, they attract inventors and tinkerers with varied interests and expertise.

Bringing a Maker Faire to Spokane would help encourage people throughout the region to become involved. It’s a mission familiar to Lindsey: While he lived in Texas he produced Maker Faires throughout the state.

Dan Hallock, who has been a regular participant in Spokane CREATE!, built his own quad-copter from scratch with the help of a parts shopping list he found online. With his background in programming and network engineering, and his fascination with photography, he thought: Why not? He also used a 3-D printer and dismantled a canine backpack to mount a small video camera on his dog so he could watch squirrel chases from the dog’s point of view.

Alex Carman built what he calls a floppy drive orchestra using old floppy drives, which produce noise at different tones depending on speed. When properly wired to a power source and a computer, the floppy drives will play. Others are experimenting with a device that can mimic the frequency of car locks and theoretically can be programmed to unlock and potentially start cars.

Lindsey wants to capture what Spokane CREATE! does and display it on a larger stage. A Maker Faire provides just that, sharing “garage inventions” and creating interactive learning to inspire and connect young people to STEM careers and opportunities, he said.

“I hope people are as excited about it as we are,” Lindsey said.