Tag: Mitchell (Page 1 of 2)

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

Mitchell Fall Debut! Hour of Code with Anna and Elsa

Yesterday was our first day of Michigan Makers at Mitchell Elementary. We couldn’t wait to meet our new participants and welcome back some familiar faces. Our menu for the day was Code.org’s Hour of Code with Anna and Elsa, which uses Google’s drag-and-drop programming language, Blockly. We also brought the junk box, LEGO, and K’nex in case anyone finished early, but no one had enough time for those!

Two girls help each other with a difficult puzzle.Some of the kids had experience with Blockly, but we decided to have everyone start with this activity so that everyone could get grounded in the same basic skills. We also wanted kids to get some experience with Blockly now, since we will be bringing in the iPads and Dash & Dot robots soon, and want the kids to feel comfortable using the Blockly programming app which lets you pre-program noises, movement, lights, and more! Since some kids had experience with Blockly or Scratch, we were a little bit surprised that only two students completed all 20 puzzles.

We noticed that initially, some of the students skipped the video tutorials which give some really important information. They quickly realized that they needed to watch the videos to be able to complete the puzzles, so as time went on we had to answer less questions. It was awesome to see the students move from saying, “This is too hard!” about the first level, to confidently using loops. Part of this came from watching the instructions in the videos, and part from peer or mentor guidance, trial-and-error, and other problem-solving strategies. A student demonstrates to another how to solve a puzzle. Before the day was over, the kids reflected on these strategies. One of the most challenging aspects of this activity turned out to be figuring out what degree of angle to use when making your snowflake, and how many loops you needed. Finally, we talked some more about some of the exciting activities we will be doing next week and throughout the rest of the semester. Not everyone was able to finish today – so we are going to be bringing back this activity so we can make sure everyone is prepared for Dash & Dot in the coming weeks!  

Three boys concentrate on their next puzzle.


As you may well know, there was no Michigan Makers last Tuesday, because Mitchell school was on spring break. Next Tuesday is the last session of Michigan Makers for the year! Next Tuesday, April 15th, parents are welcome to come by for the Michigan Makers makerfest. Students will have things that they are proud of making on display.

PictureMichigan Makers got to participate in the Mitchell School science fair!


What on earth is a tumblewing?! Alex has been teaching students to make gliders these past two weeks, one of them being the tumblewing. Here is the video that Alex has been using to learn and teach how to make gliders:

Students have been very independent these last couple weeks, which is just what we like to see. They have been developing their own projects, planning them from start to finish, and then making them. For example, Matthew made a hand towel with decorative lace flowers. First, he made the flowers, then he sewed the flowers to a piece of cloth, then he sewed that cloth to a larger square of cloth, which was then sewed to two other squares of cloth. He finished off the towel by trimming away excess material.

Have you ever wondered what Michigan Makers mentors do when they’re not teaching Mitchell students? Well on Wednesday, they hosted a makerfest. A makerfest is an event where all sorts of makers come together to show what they have made and teach other makers the ropes of their craft. Here’s a quote about who hosted the event:

“The Center for Campus Involvement and the [University of Michigan] School of Information teamed up to organize the first-ever Makerfest event. Other participants included the Ann Arbor District Library, Maker Works, U-M Computer and Video Games Archive, and Michigan Makers.”


This week was our first class after University of Michigan’s winter break. It was a little tough for everyone to stay focused, and two adults were absent due to illness. Because we didn’t get to go to Mitchell last week, we gave all of the students bags of materials to make things for this class. Most students made all kinds of cool things, but forgot to bring them in today (but said they’d bring them next week). Some students forgot to make things, but said they will when they get a chance. The students that did bring in their creations got to show them during our closing meeting.

PictureHere Miles is showing his six-wheeled car that transforms into a flying contraption. He also made a penguin.

You might notice that many students are wearing necklaces here. That’s because Kristin, the woman in charge of Michigan Makers went to Hawaii and brought back Kukui nut necklaces. Before electricity, Hawaiians would burn the nuts for light. These days, the Kukui nut is a sign of knowledge. We had some guests today, and so students could wear Kukui necklaces to show that they were okay with being asked questions. The guests from Hillel Day School enjoyed seeing how students explore and work in Michigan Makers.

The activities for today were stop-motion animation, making things with materials from the scrapbox, snap circuits, name stickers, choose your own adventure story-writing (or just creative writing), using the sewing machine to make a pull-tie bag, being the reporter, and building with Legos.


This week, we continued with many of the same activities (sewing, story writing, scrap box, and independent projects), but a new addition from last week was the Cameo, which is basically a printer that cuts out shapes instead of printing things. Students layout designs or letters in the software for the Cameo, and then insert the appropriate paper with a plastic backing. The machine has a little knife inside that cuts along the path that the student made and the final output is… A Sticker! After one class with the Cameo, one of our students, Malek, took over teaching others how to use the Cameo!

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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.