Shop tips: Sandpaper

Sandpaper is a great tool, which we often use in our workshop.  It is very safe to use, compared to some tools, so even our youngest visitors can experience wood shaping. Sandpaper is essentially, as the name suggests, sand stuck on paper.  These hard particles will scratch into wood, plastic, and other materials.  The size of these particles determines the roughness of the sandpaper.  This is called the ‘grit&
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Chain Reactions: Prompting the Unexpected

We have been exploring chain reactions at the Museum for years.  Building tracks and paths for balls to roll on is a fun activity that teaches persistence, prototyping and teamwork.  Recently I taught two separate classes centered around chain reactions.  One was with a group of second graders from the Ellis School.  Their science teacher wanted to expand upon her students’ learning with a trip to MAKESHOP. The
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Kids work on a post-it note based board game design

Game Design Workshop

On March 15th, as part of the 4th annual National STEM Video Game Challenge (presented by the Smithsonian in partnership with The Joan Ganz Cooney Center at Sesame Workshop and E-Line Media), 16 kids showed up in the museum theater to spend a few hours learning about game design. Beginning with some discussion and sharing about what makes a good designer and what games everybody enjoys, participants then went through
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Re-purposed Book Chisel Box

We have been expanding our collection of woodworking tools, and needed a way to store chisels. A good storage solution would keep them from banging around in a drawer, thereby keeping them sharp. It should also be easy to store on a shelf, or take for use on a project outside MAKESHOP. This unassuming book is now the cozy home to six chisels. For lack of a proper sized box or thin wood to make one, bookboard would do
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What is an Armature?

An armature is like a skeleton (sometimes made out of wire) that can be bent and held into certain positions. As a movable sculpture it can be used to make stop-motion animations. Guest Maker Anisha Deshmane visited MAKESHOP on August 16th to explore the process of making armatures with our visitors. We used steel wire and pipe cleaners to make the skeletons and cotton stuffing and colored masking tape to give the sk
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College Trip

I recently had the opportunity to teach two workshops at an event for girls interested in science hosted at Robert Morris University. As usual I gave the kids minimal instruction and then allowed them a large amount of time to explore the materials and components. They were given the chance to make something — anything — out of recycled materials, motors and batteries. This group of girls really took this
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