Author: Amber Lovett (Page 1 of 2)

Making in miniature

This week at Michigan Makers saw the junk box and 3D printer still going strong! We also brought back many of the same things from the past few weeks, including littleBits, Hour of Code, Lego, and Kinex. We also brought back the Dash robots as well as the tiny Ozobot, which follows the path you draw for it and changes the color of its lights accordingly.

We finally were able to draw a path for the Ozobot

We discovered through experimentation that drawing a path for the Ozobot takes some serious pigmentation, and also that it works best when the turns are gently curved instead of right angles.

Tiny table for some tiny Shopkins!

The junk box was as popular as ever, especially for making miniatures like the tiny table for Shopkins above, and an equally tiny teacup.

Hour of Code has become a real hit with some of the kids

Hour of Code has remained a hit with a lot of the kids, some of whom have spent the majority of the last two weeks on the Blockly-based coding activities. One student told me he can’t wait to keep practicing at home and show his mom what he has been up to!

Prying off 3D prints is harder than you would think

Last but certainly not least, we have been making progress ensuring that every student who wants to print something using the 3D printer has their chance. We have been consistently impressed with how careful the students are around the printer!

One more week to go, Makers!

Costumes and Coding

The 3D printer is back! And so was the junk box, with even more fresh supplies than last week.

Tulle makes for great costumes

Did I mention that among the junk box supplies was a huge pile of tulle? Between that and the Hawaiian leis and some discarded Valentine’s Day garland, there were some truly inspired costuming creations this week.

Getting the headband just right

Popular choices were headbands, crowns, and other more elaborate headdresses, but we also had belts and what I can only describe as an improvised chest-plate made from what may once have been a woven straw trivet.

littleBits Korg kits (and coding in the background!)

I was pleased to see more interest in the littleBits kits this week, and since we were 3D printing, we had some kids ask to do Hour of Code or Build with Chrome. It’s always a little bit heartwarming to have kids asking you if they are allowed to practice computer coding.

3D design using Cookie Caster

The 3D printer was back and loaded with some gold-colored filament this week. We had some really intricate 3D creations printed this week using Cookie Caster (Kristin and I didn’t even know it was possible to make such detailed creations using that program)!

See you again next week, Makers!

littleBits Musicians

After a few weeks without Michigan Makers, this week showed a renewed burst of energy and creativity. We had to carry on with Michigan Makers this week without Kristin, who was on a whirlwind conference schedule. Thankfully, we had a parent volunteer and Sandy from Scarlett to help fill the gap! We weren’t able to bring the 3D printer this week, but we brought a lot of the old staples including the junk box, Snap Circuits, Lego and Kinex (with a new donation of Kinex from our lovely parent volunteer!).

Junk box remains as popular as ever!

We also brought in all of our littleBits kits – something which we have brought in past weeks but which has so far not gotten much attention. Because littleBits can take a bit of concentration and perseverance to master, I made a point of encouraging kids this week to give them a try.

Making music with littleBits!

It turns out, the key was just to provide a little motivation, in the form of the Korg synthesizer kits. Once some of the students realized they could make music with littleBits, they were sold. And having listened to some of their beats myself, I have to admit they may be onto something.

Cool Circuits Puzzle

We also had a fresh bout of supplies for our junk box, which translated to some extraordinary bursts of creativity! One of the creations included a video camera complete with tiny folding viewscreen on the side.

Showing off her camera

Others went very avant-garde today, choosing to express themselves through a landscape of items that they deemed representative of their “workshop.”

Fresh junk box supplies!

Great job makers – looking forward to future weeks and the return of the 3D printer.

Mitchell’s Budding 3D Designers

After last week’s successful debut of the 3D printer, we couldn’t wait to have the kids experiment with creating their own designs. We decided to try using, a website from MakerBot which allows you to draw an outline of an object using a line tool or upload and trace images, which the website automatically extrudes into 3D printed objects that are just like a cookie cutter!

Designing 3D prints using CookieCaster

We had a little bit of a hiccup getting the website to work initially, so not everyone ended up designing something today. But, we will definitely be bringing this back in future weeks so everyone can have a chance to design and 3D print an object.

3D printed house, designed using CookieCaster

It was great to see what the kids came up with. CookieCaster forced them to think very carefully about what they were going to make, since they could only use lines and had to make sure the lines connected to make an outline. Some kids said it was too hard at first – but they focused, perservered, and created some amazing stuff, like a heart, a panther, and a house.

Sweet Two-Story House Built with Roominate

This week we also finally had some girls who were able to figure out the electronic components of Roominate, which they added to the creation above. Check out a video demonstration on our Flickr!.

Hour of Code – Check out that focus!

And after an exhasting day of 3D printing, what’s a maker to do? Relax with some Hour of Code, of course.

Can’t wait to see what these kids come up with next!

3D Printer Debut at Mitchell

We had quite the menu of options this week at Mitchell!

Along with the regular offerings of Lego, Kinex, Tinker Toys, and the junk box, we also brought back the Dash robots, Roominate, the Design Studio game, and Snap Circuits as well.

Powering a fan with Snap Circuits.

And, for the fans of Snap Circuits, we also brought a few littleBits kits this week. These kits include modules that snap together and allow kids (and adults!) to build a variety of projects as they learn about inputs, outputs, and circuits.

Trying out the littleBits Space Kit.

However, the most exciting activity this week was the debut of the 3D printer!

3D Printing the Michigan “M.”

Kristin and I have seen the 3D printer operate a fair number of times, but watching the kids become entranced by the printing reminded us of how cool this technology really is to watch. Some kids spent the whole day today just watching the printer chug along!

Lego Nyan cat meets junk box UFO.

We are really looking forward to future weeks, and hoping we can give everyone the opportunity to create something of their own using the 3D printer.


Robots & Roominate

Another successful week of Michigan Makers!

New today were our always popular Dash robots, a design and prototyping game called Design Studio, as well as Roominate, a building set which also lets you set up lights and motors to control different aspects of your creation. We also brought some new Snap Circuits kits since that was such a popular activity last week.

Design Thinking with The Extraordinaires’ Design Studio

The junk box, Lego, Kinex, and Tinker Toys made a reappearance to round out today’s menu. And this week, we had two more family members volunteer, which made a huge difference for Kristin and me!

Building with Roominate

A few girls were the first to explore using our Roominate kit and were able to create a two-story house which they were working on furnishing and decorating, as well as exploring using some of the electronic components.

As usual, we had a flurry of interest in Dash and were glad that the kids were able to negotiate turns with each other so everyone who wanted to experience the robots today was able to have a chance.

Snap Circuits was a success again this week, with two girls creating a project that let them recharge a battery by winding a crank and regulating the voltage output.

The best part (for Kristin and I) was how well the kids cleaned up – they even cleaned up early, without being asked! We suspect this may be due to the positive influence of our excellent volunteers.

Keep tuned for future weeks – the 3D printer might even make an appearance at Mitchell one of these days!


Welcome Back Michigan Makers!

Hi everyone! Kristin and I were very excited to start up Michigan Makers again, with lots of new faces, and a few of the same.

Tech Box Tricks

Tech Box Tricks made another appearance today, along with Snap Circuits, which were a newcomer this year. Snap Circuits come with a board and different circuit components which can snap together, helping to teach kids about how circuits work as they create a variety of cool projects exploring light, sound, and motion. We were also very fortunate to have a parent volunteer this week who helped to man this activity!

Snap Circuits

We also brought the ever-popular junk box as well as Kinex, Tinker Toys, Lego, and even the old classic –  Lincoln Logs.

And what a successful first day back it was! We were very impressed by the enthusiasm and creativity of the group. There was a lot of creative use of materials in from the junk box, and some of the kids spent the whole time crafting their creations, despite having to share a single roll of tape after we ran out.

Some of the projects from today included a mask, a bird with flexible wings, a miniature table with dishes, and a golden snitch.

I know I can’t wait to see what this group will come up with in future weeks!

Puppet Power

This week at Mitchell we introduced hand-sewing finger puppets, along with the same stations from previous weeks (Hour of Code, Dash robots, junk box, and construction toys).

Hour of Code, Dash, finger puppets, Junk box, construction toys

  We had some more kids finish Hour of Code today, including two who had been struggling a lot initially. It was wonderful to see them finish yesterday. One boy in particular was resolved to finish yesterday, and powered through the last few levels. He was very proud of his success, and couldn’t wait to try out Dash as his reward!   Hour of Code, Dash, finger puppets, Junk box, construction toys

We promised that we would start hand-sewing, since we had some requests already, so this was out first week practicing with this group. We decided to start with something small, and came up with the idea of felt finger puppets. We were impressed not only with how quickly kids picked up the hand-sewing, but how meticulously they focused on their stitches. Some of the amazing creations included a turkey (complete with wattle!), a kitten, and a snowman!

Hour of Code, Dash, finger puppets, Junk box, construction toysHour of Code, Dash, finger puppets, Junk box, construction toys


Making it work at Mitchell

This week at Mitchell, we brought back the same stations: Hour of Code, Dash robots, junk box, and Tinker Toys and Kinex. A lot of kids are getting pretty anxious to try out the robots, and we hope it will continue to motivate them to try their Hour of Code.

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

Several students have begun to enjoy doing the Hour of Code, and jump right into the puzzles. We also had a few more students finish the Hour this week!  

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

The real treat this week was to see what kids were able to build with the junk box. This week, I saw a lot of making of useful or functional objects. Purses were a big theme this week, as three different girls made different versions of purses from supplies in the junk box.

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

Last week, we had one girl make a “laptop” out of materials from the junk box, which inspired a boy to make his own this week using bubble wrap, playing cards, and a marble. As he described it to me, “You have to punch the keyboard really hard, but it’s really lightweight!”  


MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

Slingshots and model bows were also a big theme this week. One girl made a slingshot out of a fruit snacks box and some rubber bands, complete with storage for her ammunition (small recycled cardboard tubes)

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Dash, Junk box, Kinex, Tinker Toys

Unbridled creativity at Mitchell

This week at Mitchell, everything went a bit awry. We had planned on a rotation of three stations: Dash & Dot robots for those who have completed the Hour of Code puzzles/more Anna & Elsa for those who have not, building with Kinex, and making something from the junk box. But we forgot that we also needed to give the 5th graders a chance to make their own flashlight, and it ended up taking longer than we expected, even with all of the 4th graders helping show the 5th graders the ropes. And I forgot to charge the Dashes!

MM@Mitchell 11/4/2015

After the flashlights were done, we ended up allowing everyone to choose between Hour of Code, junk box, or Kinex. We were surprised that once everyone chose a station, the chaos really settled down, and the kids were able to make some pretty awesome things.

MM@Mitchell 11/4/2015

There was so much unbridled creativity present in the room. It’s amazing to see the range of projects they come up with: from a house with a roof supported by strings of plastic cord, to a headband made of pipe cleaners, electrical tape, and gold cord, to a miniature replica of a strawberry cake with vanilla ice cream on top! It was also great to see that kids were up to the challenge of using Blockly with the Dashes – even though they weren’t able to do so due to my charging fail!   

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Junk Box, and Lego/Kinex

Just goes to show you that even when your plans fail, something amazing can still happen! I can’t wait to see what these kids come up with next. 

MM@MITCHELL Hour of Code, Junk Box, and Lego/Kinex

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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.