One of the best gifts you can give a child or young adult are gifts that encourage them to explore and think. When I was younger one of the best Christmas gift our family received was a book of craft making. That book got used so often that the binding broke and it was held together by duct tap. You could tell what our favorite projects were by the amount of stains on the page. The magazine Make is the modern equivalent of that craft book, only cooler. The magazine comes out quarterly and is available in both paper and electronic form. Each magazine is filled with projects both simple and complex. There are projects that involve robotics, electronics, woodworking just to name a few. There are projects that are right for everyone from kids to adults. The magazine also contains articles by other makers, their tips and tricks.
The magazine is only a small part of the maker community. It also includes the Make web site. The Web site includes videos of various projects people have made and how they made them. There are also audio and video podcast available from the site. You also get to meet various members of the community, who they are what they do and how they got started. There is a great community forum where ideas can be exchanged and problems can be solved. Plus there is the Maker Shed Store which allows you to buy what you need for your projects.
If they really get into the community and making things. They might want to participate in a local Maker Faire. Maker Faire is where the Maker community gets together and shows off their projects to the general community. These aren’t all small projects either, some are quite large. There was the attempt to build a 50 ft mechanical snake or perhaps you would like to help build the world’s largest tesla coil instead. These are just two of the projects that were shown off at various Maker faire around the U.S. and Canada in 2011 In 2011 there were major Maker Faires in the Bay area, Detroit and New York. However throughout the year there are a lot of smaller more local faires around the country.
Make magazine and the Make community isn’t for everyone, but if your kid is starting to take things apart or asking you how something works, it might be a great place to start. The paper and digital edition of the magazine is $34.95 a year and the digital edition alone is $19.95. Well worth the price considering how much someone likes to tinker can learn from them.