Tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, science clubs, authors, artists, students, citizens and entrepreneurs – they all come together at the Mini Maker Faire in Tartu to show their projects, to talk about what they have learned, exchange and inspire visitors to become a maker. The idea is to gather all the people that can be defined as makers to trigger an awareness and emergence of the Maker movement in Estonia and in other Baltic countries. Since its beginning the Tartu Mini Maker Faire has constantly grown: the number of makers has doubled from 2014, where 58 maker teams were present, to 2015, with an average of 1000 visitors yearly. This year Tartu the mini maker fair was fully independent from the science festival which served the recent years as the organisational frame.
One could state that ‘Making’ and the Maker movement in general is associated to historical roots in Estonia. The deprivations during the Soviet Era encouraged people to re-use materials and be creative with scarce resources. “We really did not have many things around” (interview partner AHHAA). Still the progress of ‘consumerism’ has jeopardized this link – and the Maker movement is supposed to bring it back.
Tartu Mini Maker Faire is mostly focused on creating awareness about the Maker movement in Tartu when the term “maker” was not well-known prior the arrangement of the Mini Maker Faire. As such, it may also have the potential of getting a broader public involved with making and to promoting STEM and creativity among a broad public.
Tartu Mini Maker Faire is free for the participation of makers and charges a small amount for visitors, which favours the accessibility of the event to everyone and spread the awareness about making to a broad audience.
As the Tartu Mini Maker Faire starts as an initiative from the Science Centre AHHAA, it benefits from the already established relationships with institutional partners present in the city (local government, ministries, research institutions, associations) but also from the outreach AHHAA has gained over the years among a vast array of stakeholders, among which we find schools, students, families, etc. The mission of AHHAA is to serve education purposes, by enabling the local population to learn more about STEM and nurture curiosity and desire to learn. The Tartu Mini Maker Fair fits well in one of the strategic approaches of AHHAA: to attract makers with an interest for making things, building prototypes, objects for the sake of fun and creativity. The main impact of the Tartu Mini Maker Faire is to promote STEM and creativity among a broad public – but also to create awareness around the Maker movement and the potential in making things. In this highlight, the Tartu Mini Maker Faire does showcase makers who have in mind the environmental impact of their creation, for example by using recycled materials.
The Tartu Mini Maker Faire also has the ambition for the next 5 years to attract people with the idea of solving grand challenges of the society by addressing a specific problem, for instance, pollution – in order for the Maker Faire to serve as an inspirational platform to encourage people to engage in more sustainable behaviours.
In parallel to the emergence of the Tartu Mini Maker Faire, other maker spaces have been structured – like a new maker lab in Tartu: SPARK Makerlab – and some maker participants have engaged in maker activities and maker initiatives, in connection with their exhibition in the Tartu Mini Maker Faire.