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How-To

How to Make a Circuit Block

Circuit Blocks exist in many different forms throughout museums around the world.  A circuit block is a set of components, switches and power sources that can be tethered together to allow people to explore electricity in a safe and easy manner.  We have been building and facilitating circuit exploration for the past several years at the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh.  Circuit Blocks have become a staple acti
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Allen’s Birds

Most visitors who come into MAKESHOP spend most of their time exploring and tinkering with the materials. But there are is a group of return visitors who always seem to come in with a plan already in mind. Allen is one of those visitors. This visit he wanted to make a bird. Typically the first step with Allen is find the right materials to create his idea. He usually tends to use tape and recycled materials. He is at
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Perfect Pentagons

Check out these neat stuffed balls. They are made of twelve pentagons, and for the ball to turn out nice and round, these pentagons should be exactly the same. Using a template will produce the same shape each time, but the template should be a perfect pentagon. Perfect, in this case, means more than doing an awesome job, it means that all the sides are the same length, and the angles where sides meet are also the sa
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Skill Thrill: Multiple LEDs

I know, I know.  If there was a making version of Portlandia (MAKElandia?) it would include a skit called ‘Put an LED on it!’ because what better way make it jazzy than to make it light up?  I get the allure – building a circuit that works is fun and satisfying, and there is a certain swagger that comes with the control of turning components on and off at your whim.  So putting LEDs on projects is a
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How to Thread a Needle

The first thing you want to do when you’re threading a needle is get the right amount of thread. My favorite way to get the right amount of thread is to unwind the thread while holding the bobbin (which is the tube the thread is wrapped around) in one hand and pinching the end of the thread in the other. I stretch my arms out all the way, then cut off a piece of thread with sewing scissors. Here, you can see me
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Light Painting Tests

Each month, our staff decides on a theme to help us decide what projects and activities we want to offer to our visitors. Our November theme is “Time” and we’ve been messing around in the shop, brainstorming some fun, open-ended activities that emphasize the idea of time passing. We knew we wanted to do some light painting, so we started playing with our cameras, moving bright lights around in front
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