Author: Kristin Fontichiaro

Digital Art workshop for Senior Summer Camp – Handout

Here’s a handout we prepared for our Summer 2019 Senior Summer Camp Digital Art Workshop for folks aged 55+. Hope it helps in your work!

Quotable: On the power of handmade

Decorative graphic that reads, "When we make something with our hans, it changes the way we feel, which changes the way we think, which changes the way we act." Quote attributed to Carl Wilkens in Terry Tempest Williams's book The Hour of Land

Source: Williams, Terry Tempest. 2016. The Hour of Land: A Personal Topography of America’s National Parks. New York: Sarah Crichton Books/Farrar, Straus, & Giroux.

MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016: Strawbees, Junk Box, Toy Take Apart, and More!

This was our next-to-last meeting before the holiday break, and we were busy!

Our menu:
MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
We’re still disassembling Santa from a few weeks ago …

MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
Time to tackle Santa’s feet and base! MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
So many resistors and capacitors inside the base of Santa!

MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
Best set of capacitors and resistors we’ve seen so far this semester — all lurking under Santa’s feet. MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
Look what was inside Santa’s head!

MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
ANOTHER speaker inside Santa’s feet? MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
Roominate remains popular — so much furniture was made today.

MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
New this week — Strawbees. So many enormous straw snowflakes were made. MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
Trevor was first to tackle Strawbees – he set a high bar for imaginative use.

MM@Mitchell 12/6/2016
Junk box creations


For more photos from this week, check out our Flickr album.

Next week is our last of the semester. We’ll have special gift-making and gift-wrapping stations!


Photo of boy taking toy apart

MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016: So much taking apart!

This was session three of our five-week sprint. Take a look at what was on offer:
MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016

We saw great maker mindset in person when the laptops could barely hold on a charge — they had gotten a workout during the day — and the students went with the flow and flexibly swapped out laptops to make things work. That’s the kind of approach to life we like to see!

The popular stations this week were definitely toy take apart (with Ben this time as your mentor) and the Roominate kit.

Check out our makers in action!

MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016
Two pairs of hands make toy takeapart a lot faster!


MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016 This mechanical Santa had so much to unpack that it took three pairs of hands!   MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016 Who knew Santa’s arms were wires but that his legs actually have knees?   MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016 Poor Santa — but so interesting to take apart!  

MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016
It’s great to spread out with the LEGOs. We have a fuller box this year, so there are plenty of bricks for inspiration.


MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016
M realizes that he can connect a motor from the Roominate box to some fluff left over from last week’s take apart. Not only does the motor attach itself into the fluff, it can actually twist it into yarn. Check out the video below!


MM@Mitchell 11/29/2016
Who knew we could invent a knitting machine?

Here are some things we are learning:

  1. It’s a new thing to use a screwdriver!
  2. “Lefty loosey, righty tighty.”
  3. Press down with the screwdriver while you turn it.
  4. The inside of toys can be a big surprise!

For more photos from this week, check out this week’s Flickr album.


Photo of inside of an electronic toy guitar

MM@Mitchell 11/22/2016: Teamwork

After not having enough for everyone to do this week, we loaded up our van! We introduced toy takeapart, brought back some building tools like Tinkertoys and LEGO, and did some more Check out our photos here and in this week’s Flickr album.
MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016
We worked in partners this week not only with but with toy takeapart as well. We had two groups of technicians, one taking apart this toy guitar, and the other taking apart a mechanical bear.


MM Toy Take Apart 11/22/2016 When you work with mechanical/electronic toys, you add scissors to your toolkit!  

MM@Mitchell 11/22/2016 Blockly photos by KF
Paired programming with

MM@Mitchell 11/22/2016 Blockly photos by KF
We are impressed by how well the Mitchell makers work together on projects. That’s a great life skill, makers!


MM@Mitchell 11/15/2016: Activate!

YAY! We are back at Mitchell School for five week this fall! We planned to introduce kids to and make buttons for name tags. But OOPS! We didn’t realize that the laptop cart was locked up and forgot to bring a Plan B. So we sent Kamya back to campus to get some engineering toys, and Kristin had some yarn in her car we used to teach braiding. We like how Mitchell makers go with the flow when things get weird and steer clear of whining. We don’t like to be unprepared, so your good attitude made a big difference!

Here are some photos of the day:

Michigan Makers at Mitchell 11/15/2016 - some photos by Jo!
Welcome menu

Michigan Makers at Mitchell 11/15/2016 - some photos by Jo!
Using Kristin’s computer to test-drive for next week (fingers crossed!)


Michigan Makers at Mitchell 11/15/2016 - some photos by Jo!
Using the punch to cut out templates for making name tag badges


Michigan Makers at Mitchell 11/15/2016 - some photos by Jo!
Whew! We were relieved when Kamya brought us some other things to tinker with!
Michigan Makers at Mitchell 11/15/2016 - some photos by Jo!
Ben says, “Activate!” whenever they push the button on the Badge-O-Matic II. It is funny every time. We observed how closely the makers watched the people ahead of them so they would know how to set up their button with little prompting from us. Nice strategy, makers!   Michigan Makers at Mitchell 11/15/2016 - some photos by Jo! Success! Check out additional photos in this Flickr album. Kristin

Michigan Makers returns to Mitchell on Tues 11/15 after school!

Hello, everyone! If you’re a third grader who likes to take stuff and turn it into something else, you just might be a maker. See Mr. Hilton at Mitchell for a permission slip. Space is limited, and we cannot wait to see you in two weeks!

Kristin, Kamya, and Ben

Michigan Makers at Mitchell Dec. 2: What’s a Tech Box Trick?

We were sorry to be without our mentor Amber this week but glad to welcome new mentor Shruthi!

Here she is!

Shruthi demonstrating Tech Box Tricks by Seeed

Here’s what we had on our agenda for today.

Photo of whiteboard showing a message to the students from mentors and a list of the week's activities

You’ve seen photos of sewing and the junk box before, but what are Tech Box Tricks? It’s a set of

  • inputs (sensors, buttons, and other triggers)
  • a small microcontroller in a plastic case (a kind of computerized “brain”)
  • outputs (like a buzzer, fan, or light)
  • connectors with wires
  • a battery with connecting wires

Here are some components laid out, ready to be connected!

Tech Box Tricks components

The folks at Seeed estimate that you can make up to 64 different combinations when you combine power + input + microcontroller + output + imagination.

Close-up photo of Tech Box Tricks by Seeed

Thanks for teaching us, Shruthi!

What we like about Tech Box Tricks is that it’s really easy to get a functioning set-up pretty quickly. Then your imagination can take over!

Exploring Tech Box Tricks, a kit from Seeed

While we didn’t quite have time to combine these with the junk box to prototype some original inventions, as we planned, we hope to try again after the holiday break. (Because, as you know, we have a MM traditional activity we do the last MM meeting before we stop for the semester!)

Remember that December 7 is the last 2015 meeting date for Scarlett, and December 9 is the last 2015 meeting date for Mitchell. Then we have a break until January!

~ Kristin

Welcome to Michigan Makers’ new home online!

On this site, we’re merging all of our past posts and continuing to blog about our work with Michigan Makers sites at Mitchell Elementary and Scarlett Middle School. We’re a team of faculty and students from the University of Michigan School of Michigan.

Below this post, you’ll find a collection of former postings from past years, now assembled in this single online home.

Our work is provided to Ann Arbor students at no charge. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of Museum and Library Services RE-05-15-0021-15 and by the UMSI Founders Fund.



Images © 2015 Regents of the University of Michigan. Text available under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license unless otherwise stated. This project was made possible in part by the Institute of​ ​Museum and Library Services RE-05-15-0021-15.