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First try at Maker Challenge

Detroit Maker Faire was our first attempt at Maker Challenge (see main page for Maker Challenge for a description).  The questions were provided by John Barrie at the Appropriate Technology Collaborative.  The challenges were:

  • How can plastic be recycled on a small, local scale in developing countries instead of ending up in the landfills or as litter on streets?
  • How to make things cold?
  • How can you generate a small amount of electricity easily and at low cost for use in the developing world?
  • How can free, recycled batteries be used in under-developed areas of the world?


In total, we had 68 answers over 2 days!  Not bad for the first try.


We could have had many more answers - lots of people didn't even try.  After the first day, very few people added more answers because so many answers were already on the table.  In some ways it might be good to remove those answers so more people would be willing to try, but then we would have a lot of repeat answers.

Also, we should have brought lots of physical objects (batteries, connectors, mini-turbines, etc.) to help explain the challenges.  The quality of the answers would have been much higher, and probably more people would have been attracted to it, had there been more physical objects on the tables.

Instead of using paper on tables to have people write their answers, a large whiteboard (white masonite board from Lowes) probably would have been easier to see.  Also, people don't like writing on paper because if they write something wrong, they have to scribble it out.  It makes people afraid to write for fear of screwing up.


I don't think there's a lot of ugly here!  Overall the idea is sound... probably will only work at certain events with certain types of people (like Maker Faires), but otherwise it's good!

3 Responses to “First try at Maker Challenge” Leave a reply ›

  • Hey, Greg -- We looked for you yesterday and missed you! This is one of my favorite answers to both the plastic bottle and the electricity challenge:

    I've even seen a factory completely lit by bottle lights. Now, if only I could climb to the top of my shed ...

    • Profile

      I know, we were kind of over in the corner, a few people said they couldn't find us.

      That was one of the answers to both questions, in fact! It's a perfect example of how many really simple yet effective solutions still exist, we just need to put a little thought into finding them!

      I should try the bottle thing out at home some time, I'm kind of curious to see how it works.


  • Hey, great minds think alike! I'm dying to try "the bottle thing" - I wonder how many watts of light Michigan sunlight could create given that we are further from the Equator? I smell a story problem!

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Office located at Maker Works near Ellsworth and State st in Ann Arbor at:

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