Makerspace @ Traf in the Caf: Week 4, Paper Circuits

Paper circuits was by far the most popular activity of the month. Indeed, it was so popular I still am getting students asking me if they can make a card!

Materials Needed:

  • Craft supplies (paper, glue, scissors, tracing paper and tape)
  • 3v lithium coin batteries
  • Circuit sticker LEDs (Chibitronics makes them)
  • Copper tape

To begin with I made a prototype using a guide created by the Exploratorium in San Francisco:


I used a simple parallel circuit:


Lessons learned:

  • Make sure to not rip the tape, which is finicky. TIP: take the backing off gradually as you go.
  • Also make sure the tape is as smooth as possible and the LEDS are properly glued to both tracks.
  • LEDS also have to be facing the same direction (+ side all on one track, – side on the other)
  • If it doesn’t seem to work at first, try flipping the batter over. Not sure why this is. It feels a little like magic.

Once I had an idea of what I was doing, I brought it to the students (and Staff got into it as well!)

Here was the result:


There were some happy mothers on Mother’s day!


Paper circuits was a great introduction to the concept of Makerspace. It combines a simple technology that the girls can simply copy or take farther (circuits) with the fun of crafts to produce a magical result. The girls were thrilled with their cards and want to do more.

Personally- I want to make more too! I have some ideas about how to use it with silhouettes…

Makerspace @ Traf in the Caf: Week 3, Little Bits

LittleBits is a set of easy-to-use electronic building blocks. They are a fun, practical way for students to understand how circuits work:

Our lunchtime forays into Littlebits did not, alas, gender a whole lot of enthusiasm among the students. The teachers however, had a great time!

I am not sure if there were simply too many things going on that week, or if the littlest were not that exciting, or if the activity I had planned – a simple, colour some wings and tape them to the servo with a buzzer to make it buzz like an insect – was just too you and unexciting:


Here is a link to a five second video that gives you an idea of how annoying the buzzer is.

It’s true that Littlebits are geared towards more of a younger crowd, but as you can see from the video above, there are some pretty sophisticated things you can do with it.


Makerspace@ Traf in the Caf Week 2

Makey Makey! If you haven’t had the privilege of trying out a Makey Makey, watch this video to give you an idea of all the wonderful things you can do with it:

Week 2 of the Makerspace launch was aided and abetted by Mr. Scruton, who helped us make pianos out of cafeteria fruits and vegetables,  take selfies by pressing down a sensor (sort of like the cat in the video) as well as playing Pacman using celery as a joystick and fist-bump pausing videos.

Here are some photos of the fun we had:

This was by far one of the most popular activity. The students were fascinated by  how they could conduct energy through an orange or a pickle. Heck, I’m fascinated by this. The students were the ones to ask how the cat could take a selfie and wanted to figure it out.

I found that at first, you have to let the students play with something that is already set up. Once they get over the fear of “breaking it”, they are then in a better place to try new things out. This starts slow- at first they simply change the type of vegetable. Or, in the case of the Pacman video game, start to move the wires when they find that they can’t move left for some reason.

But then, all of a sudden, the what-ifs start to externalize: What if we used this instead of this? What happens when…?

Although we don’t have a whole lot of time at lunch and the process could be taken much further, it was gratifying to see how students quickly get over their internal barriers to play and begin to lean in to their curiosity.



Makerspace@ Traf in the Caf Week 1


In order to promote the Library Makerspace materials, the Makerspace team have been setting up shop in the cafeteria at lunch for the last few weeks. Our first week was March 21st.

Christianne Loupelle took charge of the binary bracelets activity where students could bead their names in binary code. Ms. Loupelle used the following Binary Guide:

Screen Shot 2016-04-14 at 10.05.33 AM

This was by far one of the more popular activities. It was a great, subversive introduction to computational thinking disguised as an easy craft. Although most of the students stuck to the challenge of writing their names in binary, a few opted to simply make a bracelet or a necklace, which was okay too. The whole idea is to introduce some hands-on exploration in their day that has no external pressure attached to it (grades, competition, etc.) Also, the kind of repetitive, detailed task of beading is almost like meditation, so there is a nice mindfulness component to this activity as well!

I took charge of our resident robot Ollie. I had a hard time finding people who wanted to drive it at first, but after driving it around the cafeteria for a few minutes and bumping into people, I finally got some takers. I was hoping they would try to program his movements in  Tickle, but I found that I had to prod the students to even take the controls. They were so afraid of “breaking it” or of “making a mistake” they wouldn’t even try at first. It was a real lesson for me in terms of the internal barriers to discovery and exploration that have already begun to take root in our young girls. yet, with a little bit of prodding and basically shoving my iPad into their hands, by the end of lunchtime I couldn’t take it away from them.

Here are a couple of shots of both activities:


Aside: I decided to explore Google photos and Google slides for this activity. But more on that later…