MakerFest: Ideas for Your Makerspace

Saturday, December 19, 2015

FUN and engaging ideas for your MakerSpace!

Shannon Hyman, a librarian at one of our elementary schools, invited #TechTakeout to her AMAZING MakerFest Day to run ten different stations. Each one of the stations highlighted a tool that the students would have access to in her library. Every 4th and 5th grade student had the opportunity to attend the event and learn about each tool. The students had about 5-8 minutes at each station since we wanted everyone to get a chance to see everything. This was enough time to introduce the tool, but in some cases the students had a hands-on experience. Judging from what the students were saying throughout the day, when we return from winter break they will be rushing to the library to work with all of the new tools!

Mr. Covais had a blast working with littleBits! “littleBits is a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks that empower you to invent anything, from your own remote controlled car, to a smart home device. The Bits snap together with magnets, no soldering, no wiring, no programming needed.” - The littleBits Website. Students can construct circuits using littleBits in no time! There are several different kits that are available, and at Kaechele the students have four different kits to build with: the base kit, premium kit, deluxe kit, and the gizmos and gadgets kit. Each kit comes with a booklet containing various ideas of things that can be constructed using the littleBits. The booklets only use the littleBits in that particular kit, so they won’t include any design ideas that aren’t possible to make. The students were amazed at how simple it was to create the circuits and they were already coming up with new ideas using the different combinations of Bits in the different kits.

Mr. Caratachea introduced the 3Doodler. This is an amazing tool that the students can use to bring anything they can think of to life in three dimensions. The idea behind it combines 3D printing and a hot glue gun. When using the 3Doodler you have to load the colored filament in the back of the pen. There are two speeds that the pen can extrude the filament, fast and slow. The pen can also be set to extrude filament continuously or only when the operator is holding the button. Depending on the type of doodling you are doing all of these settings can be helpful. The first thing that was discussed with the students was safety. Since this 3D pen melts the filament, the tip of it gets pretty hot! Each student that attended the MakerFest knows never to touch the end of the 3Doodler. Drawing in 3D isn’t as easy as it sounds and will require a little practice. Luckily there are templates that come with the 3Doodler and even more online that can be printed out. These templates are great because it makes drawing with the 3Doodler as easy as tracing on paper. There are even step by step guides that can be printed out to help the artists make their creations. Two of the crowd favorites were the step by step instructions for animals and of course Star Wars characters.
Mrs. Hues' station got students drawing using Masterpiece with Osmo. Osmo features a clip on piece with a mirror that attaches to an iPad where the camera is located so that the camera looks down at the table where students are working. With Masterpiece, students select a picture from the gallery and it appears on the iPad. Using paper and markers on the table, students look up at the iPad to trace the red lines. When they are finished and look down at their paper, they will see their masterpiece!

from Karen Hues on Vimeo

They equally enjoyed problem solving with Newton. Using a whiteboard, dry erase markers, and an eraser, students created paths for the bouncy balls to follow to try to get them to hit the targets and complete the challenge. There are many different levels to play and even more to be unlocked! 

Mrs. Browne was in charge of the Osmo Words, Tangrams and Numbers.  Osmo Words allowed students to compete against each other in game mode to spell out images displayed on the ipad. Each student was assigned either red or blue letter tiles and they raced each other to find the most correct letters to earn the points. Osmo Tangrams challenged the students to complete an animal puzzle using tangram pieces. The image was displayed in shadow format and the students had to use spatial relations to figure out where the pieces went. Each time a correct tangram was placed, the tangrams on the ipad lit up to let the student know they had the correct location. For Osmo Numbers, the students used number tiles to match up to the number displayed on the ipad. The tiles included dots and digits. They added by putting more tiles and subtracted by removing tiles. Out of all three Osmo apps, the students really enjoyed Osmo Words because of the competition element. They liked having to guess the word associated with the picture, which sometimes wasn’t as straightforward as they thought.

I was in charge of the MaKey MaKey station. 
Three MaKey MaKeys were set up to operate some winter themed games. One game was the Synonym and Antonym Christmas Tree. Second grade students at Mehfoud Elementary had decorated a Christmas tree with foil wrapped ornaments that had two words written on each. The set of words were either synonyms or antonyms. They had also used Scratch to program responses when the Christmas tree ornaments are touched. If you touch a pair of synonyms, you hear the students yell SYNONYMS and the Christmas tree in Scratch does a little dance. If you touch a pair of antonyms, you hear the students yell ANTONYMS and the tree in Scratch turns upside down. The Kaechele students thought it was so cool that 2nd graders had created this game and they enjoyed practicing synonyms and antonyms in a HANDS ON way.

Also set up were two computers with THIS skiing game. The object of the game is to get the skier from the top of the hill to the bottom of hill without running into trees. You also have to build a snowman by collecting snowman parts along the way. Students used the MaKey MaKeys as the controllers that were hooked up to PlayDough. Jessica Robinson had the clever idea to use holiday cookie cutters to cut out shapes so we had stars and gingerbread men acting as the left and right arrow keys. Such a cute idea!
  The best part about this station was when the students figured out that they could create a circuit together so more than one student could operate the MaKey-MaKey! As long has they were holding hands/arms of the person who was grounded to the main cord connected to the MaKey-MaKey, they could touch the PlayDough and make the skier move :)

Mrs. Green's station got students very excited about taking their coding knowledge to the next step with Scratch. Last week they participated in the Hour of Code on and learned the basics of coding. Scratch allows students to use their own creativity to code games and activities. They were shown the basics of Scratch and all of the options. Then they had the opportunity to play games that were created by other students to support the classroom curriculum as well as games created by experts. The students left the station talking about the games they were going to start creating and how they were going to make their own controllers using the Makey Makeys.

Mrs. Robinson made some Hollywood quality movies with the students using Stop Motion Studio. Stop Motion Studio is an easy to use app that can help you create professional looking videos. Their favorite part was the playback video at the end that shows the development of their creation in a fast-motion video. The video can be saved to the camera roll and shared out.

Jon Wirsing manned the Tinkercad station. Tinkercad is a very powerful online 3D modeling website. The best thing about Tinkercad is that it is very child friendly. With practice students in elementary school can design their own three dimensional objects that can then be printed with a 3D printer. This website is free of charge! The students simply login with their Google accounts and they are ready to go. Working in a 3D workspace can definitely be tricky, so the students will be starting small and working their way to more complex designs. This type of tool can be extremely valuable in the classroom because some students, especially visual learners, will be able to take an abstract idea they study in school and make it a tangible object.

The 3D printing station was lead by a 4th grade student whose family donated their old 3D printer to the school, so it was only fitting that he was the person explaining what the students can do with a 3D printer. Our Instructional Technology department here in Henrico County has been working with our 3D printer that we purchased with a grant from The Henrico Education Foundation, so we are familiar with integrating the idea of 3D printing and design into the classroom curriculum. The students explained to his fellow peers the process of 3D printing and how sometimes things don’t always turn out the way that you expect them to turn out. 3D printing is a great tool for the trial and error process, which is an idea that makers truly embody. The students at this elementary school will use Tinkercad to design their very own 3D objects and be able to print them right at school!


Mrs. Gebhard, the library assistant, was in charge of the sewing machine. Sewing is a very important life skill that these lucky students will be able to say they possess after elementary school. Mrs. Gebhard showed the students how to operate the sewing machine, and also how to troubleshoot when issues arise. While showing the students she focused on safety and the importance of being extremely careful while using this great tool. The students who are interested in using the sewing machine are also going to receive more in depth training by a volunteer from Jo-Ann Fabric. Once the students know how to safely and properly use the sewing machine they will be able to use it in Makerspace.

 Check out all of the fun we had at MakerFest Day:

MakerFest 2015 from Julie on Vimeo.

 We think EVERY school needs a MakerFest Day!

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