RESA offers hands on activities at ‘Mini Maker Faire’

Published 9:04 am Monday, June 8, 2015

The Southwest Michigan Mini Maker Faire — the first of its kind in Berrien County — was held on Saturday, May 30, at Whirlpool Centennial Park.

Despite the foggy, cold and rainy weather, attendance at the inaugural event exceeded 1,200 attendees according to Joe Rommel, Berrien Regional Education Services Agency (RESA) Educational Technology Consultant.

RESA, served as the lead agency producing this event with several organizations to create over 30 interactive learning stations ranging from a 3-D printer to soldering and a ‘Nerdy Derby’ racetrack over 30 feet long.

“Less than one year ago, this faire was a merely a concept,” Rommel said. “Makers faires have been wildly popular throughout the world, and we wanted to create an event that promoted innovation, creativity and learning in our community. Despite the weather, we were delighted with the attendance. The months of planning and hard work were rewarded with the countless smiles and teachable moments we saw from makers of all ages.”

In addition to the 1,200 attendees to the free event, 200 Nerdy Derby Cars were built; 150 rockets launched; more than 100 makers of all ages learned to solder, according to Rommel.

Cornerstone Alliance, one of the Maker Faire sponsors, purchased the littleBits Pro Library that served as the littleBits Learning Station at the event, a hands-on electronics exhibit, allowing makers to put together creations with magnets. Cornerstone purchased the exhibit thanks to monies received from The Bosch Community Fund grant.

The LittleBits is now permanently housed at the Berrien RESA, where it can be used by schools throughout Berrien County.

“Cornerstone Alliance was delighted to be part of this inaugural Maker Faire in Berrien County, and is very appreciative of the funding from the Bosch Group,” said Greg Vaughn, COO, Cornerstone Alliance. “The Southwest Michigan Mini Maker Faire allowed our community’s future workforce of entrepreneurs to have a truly interactive and first-hand experience of what is involved in making things. We want the next generation to realize how important manufacturing is to our economy, while encouraging their creativity and innovation.”

Plans for a Southwest Michigan Mini Maker Faire in 2016 at a venue within Berrien County are in the works, according to Rommel.

“As the maker faire grows in popularity, we look forward to working with the many makers as they continue to inspire, invent and learn,” said Rommel.

For more information on the Southwest Michigan Mini Maker Faire visit their website at or Facebook page.