Monday, June 16, 2014

Where Do We Get Ideas For Projects?

When the kids were toddlers I happened to score several years worth of Family Fun magazines at a yard sale. We used ideas from those magazines for years. 

We borrowed project idea books from the library. 

We watched shows such as Zoom, Prototype This, How It’s Made, and Shark Tank.

The kids enjoyed challenges from Lego Quest, Lego Quest II, and kids who think.

They enjoyed kits to introduce them to different materials. Science Wiz and Klutz were always reliable. Perler beads has idea books and project ideas online. Faber-Castell’s Creativity for Kids sets were good. 

Local craft stores are way to see what jumps out to your kids. Home Depot and Lowes provide free kids workshops that my kids have enjoyed. Check libraries within your county to see what events they offer. 

Once you have observed their interests, use those as keywords in amazon, add "kit" or "book" at the end and see what pops up. 

There are many online options, but and Pinterest are our staples. Occasionally we’ll have a material we want to use and google _____ projects under the image tab for ideas. 

Now the kids are quite seasoned and when they look at something they no longer see what it is or it's original intention, but think what does it remind them of and how else could it be used.

Garage sales and clearance sections are also good places to look for ideas.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Spring Maker Club Wrap Up

We wrapped up Spring Maker Club this week. Here are some of the projects we did.

This was our first take apart event. It was a big hit and very fun.

We had two open make and planning sessions this Spring. Our hopes are to get more makers involved with sharing their ideas for future club events. 

During Spring Break we held 4 days of Perler Beads, encouraging the kids to try 3D bead projects.

In May we decided to try having connected monthly themes instead of our previous weekly themes.  The first event was cracking open geodes and starting crystals. 

The following week makers examined their crystals, made crystal models using toothpicks and marshmallows, and tried salt painting.

We prepared and planted a dye garden that will be used to make natural dyes during a future  Maker Club event. The kids also used old CDs to make bird frightening devices.

Makers dissected owl pellets to see if they could figure out what their owl had eaten.

A Mario Bros. themed event was requested by a maker who then helped brainstorm project ideas for the event. The kids made Mario or Luigi hats, felt mustaches, paper Mario blocks, and Mario themed Perler beads.

Paper Engineering was incredibly fun. Makers were to use paper and tape to build a structure that would protect their ice cream cone. Their structures were tested by dropping 1, 2, and 3 lb weights on them.

The final Spring event was the pixel and post- it art event. Makers collaborated on designs to be put on the library windows, made contact paper and Perler bead pixel designs.

Friday, May 16, 2014

Making Is Learning

Ogel is wrapping up his 6th grade year during which he self-initiated a variety of projects. 

This past fall the Fayetteville Free Library opened up a Fab Lab. It's been a wonderful resource. Ogel has had the opportunity to use a variety of tools including 3D printers (Makerbot Thing-o-Matic, 3D Touch, Makerbot Replicator 2, and Makerbot Replicator 2X), Rhino and Solidworks software, Makerbot Digitizer, Hobby Laser cutter, RoboPro vinyl cutter, Little Bits, and MaKey MaKey.

We Kickstarted the 3Doodler. The Yeti was his very first doodle. The bottom two are three dimensional doodles. 

Ogel continues to explore contact paper stencils and now does multi-colored stencils. 

The library based maker club that he encouraged our local children's librarian to start continues to go well. Ogel spends 2.5-5 hours a week helping plan and prepare the weekly events. 

Ogel created a blog where he occasionally writes maker related reviews and posts.

He has explored pixel art through foam board, Perler beads, Minecraft, Legos, digital Legos, and Post-It notes. 

Ogel was able to tour the Duck tape bus and share with them the duct tape Duck tape logo stencil he made. He turned his duct tape scraps into duct tape sushi. He experimented with tapigami. Ogel also started a local trend of using duct tape to customize your water bottle so you can find it within the team's bottles. He loves when others give his projects a try. 

These three posters were all made from duct tape. As you can see, Ogel's getting VERY detailed in his duct tape work and his projects are getting larger. The first piece he sent to as a housewarming gift for their new HQ. 

Minecraft has been an interesting building platform. The top left is part of a roller coaster that Ogel made. Here he made a creeper bridge and creeper ships. The sunken ship is a creative addition. The Christmas scene was made in Minecraft. 

The top Lego creation is a modern home design Ogel created from bulk Legos. He really liked this house and decided to 3D print it. In order to do so, Ogel had to design it in 3D software. The 3D printed version is the bottom image.

The top two pictures are of a remote control Lego car that he designed. The bottom picture is of his younger brother's Lego garage. It had a manual elevator, so Ogel attached Power Function to it so his brother could use a switch to transport his cars up and down the various levels. 

The top image is a Lego scene Ogel made for creating a Yeti stop motion. The hot dog was his first 3D brick artist type creation. The bottom right is a Lego model of a Replicator 2.

Ogel continues to enjoy Perler beads. The top four were replicated from patterns. When he was Making Minecraft Perler beads he began to design his own patterns.

This is where he took his Perler beads to another level. The top picture shows him creating a large Minecraft sign from a tag. The middle two were patterns Ogel created in gimp. The Tardis was very challenging. He used a template, but found some errors in it and had to do some tweaking. The Tardis also uses floss for the details. Ogel added the touch of using glow in the dark beads for the top.

The picture on the bottom left is of cardboard we gathered for the Global Cardboard Challenge. For sometime Ogel has wanted to recreate the image from's  cardboarder skill in cardboard. He did it! He had posted on diy asking what he should make from the hexagon centers of the patch displays. One of the staff members suggested a cardboard soccer ball. Here it is. The Minecraft pumpkin was cut by hand, all 100 some layers! The geodesic dome is another project he has wanted to master for some time. Ogel donated this one to the children's section of the library.

Here are some more of Ogel's cardboard and duct tape projects. 

These are more traditional science projects. 

Ogel learned how to solder and made an Altoids tin flashlight. He also used a peg board, cut dowel, rubber bands, and a ping pong ball to experiment with physics.

Ogel made a 5 cent battery, lemon battery, a straw light sword, and pocket flashlight. The art bot was another fun project. The house was a kit from brown dog gadgets which gave him an introduction to conductive paints. We borrowed the MaKey MaKey from the library. He used it to make a controller for PacMan. He also connected a MaKey MaKey to a homemade foam sword so it would actually work in Minecraft.

Here he's microwaving Ivory soap. Ogel made soap, a lemon clock battery, extracted DNA from kiwi and tattooed a banana.

The top three Ogel did in Photoshop. The Perler bead template was in gimp. The Minecraft patch is made in Pickle. He learned to make Minecraft Mod's and run a server this year. Ogel also experimented with an Etsy shop over the holidays. 

Ogel enjoys nature and exploring. These are some of the sights from this past year. The pumpkin he grew, then decorated for Halloween.

These are misc. projects Ogel made, one is a game in which the bands had broken so he used the Rainbow loom to make new bands, the iPad holder is made from popsicle sticks, the iPad decal was made using a vinyl cutter, he's been salvaging his outgrown jeans for a future project, the blades on the fan were each covered in a primary color duct tape, he used the cores from duct tape rolls to make a hot glue gun holder, and the jump rope was finger woven using potholder looms. 

More of Ogels' misc. projects. 

Ogel's big project of the year was coming up with the idea of a Patch Display. This project spun from his interest in seeing his unique diy skill trail map (the top left photo). The top right photo is an image from a stop motion he did of his trail map once he received the actual patches. The second row shows his initial and redesigned prototypes of his Patch Display concept. The third row shows it being an actual retail product available in diy's market! Ogel designed the Patch Displays so makers are can celebrate smaller milestones. After they earn 19 skills and fill up a display, additional displays simply interlock to their existing display. He made a display showing's original staff while playing around with other uses for it. The bottom image is of his skill patch suggestions which he sent in for a contest, but it was returned to him by the postal service due to the envelope being thicker and needed more postage. So he missed the deadline, but he still wanted diy to see them.

Felt and fleece have been an excellent first medium to learn to sew with. These are all projects from this year. The Yeti is filled with rice so you can microwave it to warm your hands. 

These are all paper crafts that Ogel made. The soccer ball he did a stop motion showing it flat, then rolling together. 

Ogel still loves to cook. Aside from the hot sauce, it looks like he has a bit of a sweet tooth this year. 

The webs and bats Ogel made from trash bags. The pumpkin on the top right is foam, he carved diy's darkness engineer skill patch on it. Ogel was Minecraft Steve for Halloween. He made the mask, sword, and sewed the fleece shirt. After Halloween the shirt became a pillow. He made an Instructable for the cheese cloth ghost. The large pumpkin on the bottom right is one that he grew himself. 

Rainbow Looms were the trend this fall. Ogel began making bracelets, then advanced to making charms. The turtle you see here has been quite popular on Pinterest. It's also been displayed at the Fab Lab. 

Ogel even made holiday Rainbow Loom charms. He customized a Lego family greeting. This year he decided to make a duct tape gingerbread house and snow man. He also experimented with book cutting. 

Ogel's starting to do some diy around the house. He organized our tools, epoxied our garage floor, and made a cot for the dogs using pvc and an old shower curtain.

We recently took a family vacation to Hilton Head, SC. Here are some of Ogel's favorite things we saw. I had to laugh as the kids picked out souvenirs. What does Ogel select? A large geode. 

I previously shared pictures from his 5th grade year here. 

It's impossible to make and not learn. 

Saturday, April 12, 2014

What I tell parents considering

As a member of, kids - 
  • have their own portfolio in which to share what they make
  • receive feedback from staff and peers on their projects
  • explore their interests 
  • are inspired
  • learn authentically
  • share their passions
  • teach others
  • have choices 
  • check out what other kids have made 
  • put their own spin on a similar project
  • complete challenges toward earning a specific skill
  • create their own path
  • discover new materials or programs to work with
  • learn new skills 
  • discover projects to try
  • make global connections
  • learn about themselves
  • are surrounded by creative people
  • collaborate
  • receive suggestions to expand projects or ideas
  • learn digital citizenship in a safe moderated environment
  • help each other grow
  • rediscover learning is fun

Winter Maker Club

Hard to believe it's already been another season of Maker Club events. Ogel has now helped the librarian with 33 Maker Club events.

At the print maker event makers experimenting with using sticky foam sheets to make custom stamps.

Makers carved soap and made plaster castings at the sculptor event.

We used cardboard to make a scale model and then donated this geodesic dome to the children's section of the library.

We started exploring having open make and planning sessions, hoping for more makers to share their ideas and help plan events. 

The makers submitted an idea to's #NEXTLEVEL hoping to get their assistance in making a much larger geodesic dome and using an old projector to turn it into a planetarium.

It ended up being very cold for the Yeti event, so we brought the snow indoors and had pre froze colored water in balloons and cups to make snowmen and ice sculptures. 

The kids made pom pom, paper, and cardboard angry birds. 

Perler beads, paper crafts, and Legos were available for the Minecraft Lego event.

Here a custom template was designed in gimp and a 3D Perler bead Minecraft Steve was made.

Makers used wool roving to make felt using a wet felting technique.

Kids made contact paper stencils for custom T-shirts. 

At the vehicle event kid's experimented with making balloon cars, rubber band cars, and hovercrafts. 

The kids made 5 cent and lemon batteries at the battery event.

At the light event makers made pocket flashlights and light up straw swords.

You see previous Cicero DIY events here. We also collect future program ideas here.