IRVING PARK — Showing off a working pinhole camera she constructed in class using an old cigar box, Schurz High School senior Stefany Arruela says it's not that hard to make cameras from scratch.
"It's really amazing. A lot of students who made these didn't believe it was going to work," Arruela said. "Making a camera is a lot easier than you'd think."
Those cameras were among the dozens of exhibits on display Saturday at the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire at Schurz, a celebration of the do-it-yourself spirit that drew hundreds of amateur engineers, accomplished designers and those who are just plain curious shared their love of making things.
This year's edition was bigger than its two preceding editions, said Christine Pei, executive producer of the fair. The 2012 edition featured 50 to 700 attendees. This Saturday's event featured 85 different makers sharing their passions with an expected crowd of 2,000.
Those attending Saturday's event — which featured robots, 3-D printers, lots of electric circuits and a portable planetarium that Adler Planetarium set up in the school's library — offered different definitions of what a maker is.
"It's a hobbyist or designer who enjoys creating sharing and collaborating," said Dave Sumberg, technical director of das'lala, a North Center-based design firm, showing off its Electric Garden at its first maker fair. "The sharing is important. It's what defines a maker as opposed to someone who just builds things."
"Someone who uses minimal tools to make something awesome," said Nathan Aldredge of Pilsen-based Illumvation Studios as he was making a foam-based mold in the Schurz lunchroom.
While the exact definition of maker was fluid among those at Schurz Saturday, everyone there seemed to value the do-it-yourself approach that is at the center of the culture.
For many, making things is a calling. That includes 19-year-old Mohammed Abu-Hashish, a former Schurz student who is now studying electrical engineering at DeVry University, who showed off a robot it took him two months to build.
"I want to work for a company that builds new things," said Abu-Hashish. "I love putting things together and making them work."
Makers at the event said the fair gave them an opportunity to connect with they believe is a strong and growing community of creators in Chicago.
"We're here mostly to spread awareness about what we do," said Matt Campbell, president of the Pilsen-based Southside Hackerspace Chicago that displayed a working 3D printer in the library. "But we're also here to get involved with the makers of Chicago."