Discovery Place celebrates innovation at ‘maker fair’

From robots to 3-D printers to bee-tending, innovation is in the spotlight Saturday at the Charlotte Mini Maker Faire.
From robots to 3-D printers to bee-tending, innovation is in the spotlight Saturday at the Charlotte Mini Maker Faire.

If he lived in Charlotte – instead of Springfield for “The Simpsons” – it’s a sure bet Professor John Nerdelbaum Frink Jr. would have a note tucked into his pocket protector that reads “Charlotte Mini Maker Faire, Saturday, Oct. 10 @ Discovery Place.”

He would be among the tinkers, inventors, innovative crafters, techies, educators and others who are gizmo-intrigued. The event is Charlotte’s first “maker fair” – a family-friendly day showcasing unexpected creations.

More than 70 exhibitors will be participating; of them, more than 50 of those “makers” will show their innovations at stations on all three levels of the museum.

Event hours Saturday are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., there are on-the-hour workshops.

Exhibits include:

▪ A 3D-printed life-size Shelby Cobra, a replica sports car collaboratively created by the U.S. Department of Energy, Oak Ridge National Laboratory and TruDesign that shows the potential of 3D printing for automobile manufacturing.

▪ BotHockey, from Carolina Combat Robots, where you can practice the perfect hat trick, and then watch a pair of mechanical gladiators duke it out in the Robot Combat arena.

▪ The “world’s first” 3D-printed kayak, created by GrassRoots Engineering founder Jim Smith.

▪ The musical Tesla Coils, with thousands of volts of electricity producing sparks up to 2 feet long. (Musical? Yes: Different tones are created by different voltage levels.)

The creativity of exhibitors is wide and varied.

Some inventions are quite practical, like the Gyro Bowl, a spill-resistant kids’ gyroscopic bowl with lid. It was created by a team at Edison Nation.

You can learn about home front high-tech from Dan Thyer, whose home automation system uses four different microcontrollers to operate 30 objects around his house, including a water gun and spooky holiday decorations.

Get the full schedule at

Creativity displayed at Charlotte Mini Maker Faire is not limited to high technology. Some innovators adapt that for their work in fashion design. (On a related note, The Scrap Exchange is bringing barrels of do-dads, trinkets, etc., you can assemble into something cool you can take home).

One area family will show how they’ve built everything their own beekeeping operation requires.

Additional displays and a performance stage (as well as food trucks) are outside Discovery Place, 301 N. Tryon St.

Indoor activities and displays (includes museum admission): $15; $12 for 13 and younger and for 60 and older. Outdoor events: free. Details: and