Last summer I blogged a little bit about one of our series programs for school-age kids, Maker Morning. Feel free to check out my other Maker Morning posts on Coding and Engineering. Apparently last summer I was way more on the ball and actually had themes for each Maker Morning. This summer, not so much so I have just compiled a few of our favorite projects. There are some that are more high tech and require some programming $$ while others you may be able to just use what you have available.
Below are some of the various different projects we did through a few different mornings:
We bought two Sphero’s this year and they are always a huge hit when I break them out. You could create an obstacle course or a ‘runway’ with duct tape on the floor. If you have an older crowd you could also try the coding apps available for Sphero Materials Needed: Sphero ($129) and and iPad or a device with Google Play to download the free apps. Duct tape or some way to create an obstacle course.
Makey Makey. Admittedly, I am still learning how to use this so it was interesting to learn while I was teaching. The kids had a lot of fun playing the games suggested for a Makey Makey Materials Needed: Makey Makey (49.95), some sort of conductor (play doh, banana, lemon, etc..), and a laptop or computer that has a USB hookup
The last two summers we have been a part of the Google Makercamp. As part of that we receive a bunch of really great materials to use in our makerspace and in turn, at maker mornings. A big hit, and a low tech alternative, was the Strawbees. Strawbees were a kickstarter advertised as “a prototyping toy for makers of all ages”. Materials Needed: Strawbees (varied praices, we have the inventor kit which is listed as $40), straws
Lego challenges. I had two different lego challenges. One is the balloon car which is pretty widely talked about on the internet. Basically, the premise is you stack some cups up and then try to create a balloon-powered lego car to knock them down. The second I found somewhere on the internet but forgot to write down where! For this one I taped blue pieces of paper on the ground in two different sizes (medium and hard difficulties) and they had to build a bridge to go over the paper. Materials Needed: Legos, paper
Communal Yarn Loom. We tried this last year but it didn’t have a lot of interest. This year I had to put it out twice the kids liked it so much! All you need to do with this one is tape the yarn going across the table and weave in other yarn. This was great because for a lot of the kids they hadn’t even learned how to weave yet. Materials Needed: Yarn! Ours was all donated.
This is a really FUN program both for me and for the kids. They get to learn from and play with new things that they may not be exposed to at home or at school.
Last week our theme for maker morning was Engineering and it was also my theme for our weekly Science Lab. This post will be a combination of the two because the two programs were similar and I feel I would repeat myself if I separated the two. Maker morning is a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) based learning environment open for 2nd grade through 9th graders. Each week has a theme and we try to have three or four activities that cater to that wide range of ages. This is collaborative program with the teen department and children’s department and I work on it with one of library director’s. The Science lab is for pre-school through 6th grade.
Engineering for Kids!
I started the Science Lab program with Rosie Revere, Engineer and an explanation of what an engineer is. I also made sure that each of the kid knows (and this was part of the book too) that it is okay to not get it right the first time and an engineer is constantly learning from his or her mistakes.
This was a super simple idea: Cups! We just had a bunch of Solo cups available and they could do what they want with them. They had a lot of fun making super tall towers and structures. We had all ages (pre-school through my high school volunteers) interested in this activity. This was also a good project that taught teamwork.
Balloon Powered Lego Car
The rules were simple: create a Lego car that was powered by a balloon. Eventually this one became part of the cup activity and we were trying to make cars powerful enough to knock over the huge cup tower. A lot of the parents got really into this activity and loved the challenge of knocking over the cups.
I have done this activity from Happy Hooligans and both times it was a success. This was great to have for both programs because of big age ranges. A lot of the younger kids enjoyed this activity and really got into the building. The prep work for this one does take same time as you need to cut out the construction squares and then cut the slots into them.
This is no way a new idea and I have seen it on pinterest all over the place but it was still a hit (and cheap!). I think I first saw the pin from Deceptively Educational. This station had a challenge: to get your tower 8 inches high! We had two kids actually complete the assignment.
and my favorite… Magnetic Marble Run!
So I have done this idea before just on a piece of plywood and taping toilet paper rolls on, similar to this marble run by Lemon Lime Adventures. I wanted to take it a step further and make it more science-y be creating a magnetic board. I started with a huge piece of plywood (I didn’t want the marble run to be too easy!) and painted it with Rust-Oleum Magnetic paint. Here is where I went wrong: for the huge piece of board I have I should have used two cans of the paint. Instead I was forced to stretch it thin and because of that it was very weak (hence the duct tape in the pictures). I then spray painted over the black magnetic paint with a metallic paint so that it looked more magnetic. The next part was an experiment in itself: I needed to make the pool noodles magnetic. First, I cut them in half and then in section to make the track part of the marble run. I learned that the basic stick on magnets don’t work because a) they don’t stick on and b) definitely not strong enough. I also bought these huge heavy magnets but they were way too heavy. The ones that seemed to work (and glue on) the best were the Neodymium Magnets. Since the board itself wasn’t strong enough we did end up having to duct tape on many of the tracks.
It still worked great and was a huge hit! It definitely required team work because the board was so big and multiple kids wanted to work on it at once.
All of these programs were very well received by both the kids and parents!
This summer one of my director’s and I are trying a new series called “Maker Morning” which is a STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts and Math) based learning environment open for 2nd grade through 9th graders. Each week has a theme and we try to have three or four activities that cater to that wide range of ages.
Our first weeks theme was programming and coding!
We have two iPads for public use, one in the teen section and one in the kids section. For this program we took them out of there areas and loaded up some coding apps for a variety of ages.
These are the apps we used: (each link will bring you to the appstore and the review link will bring you to Common Sense Media)
We just used the website for One Hour Code. It’s Angry Birds themed so that attracted the kids. This was definitely better for the 10+ age group as it gets pretty in depth and complicated.
Binary Code Bracelet
I got this activity right from the CSLP 2014 handbook, pages 187 and 203.
We used our initials for doing the binary code because each letter was pretty long. I told them to write it all out first so it would be easier. The finished products were all really cute and it was great for the younger kids to learn about patterns.
How did it go?
For having such a variety of age ranges it went well! The only issue was maybe finding more basic coding apps for the younger kids, but if their parents were helping them than it did seem to go more smoothly. If you were to do this program I would recommend playing all the games and computer programs first so you are well versed in what to do. We also had each kid fill out one of these for us to display in the library, hopefully near our 3D printer and makerspace.