My branch has a maker space we call the Innovation Center. It includes a 3-D printer, a laser engraver, a Cricut, a heat press, a programmable robotic arm, Snap Circuits, Arduinos, and more.
The challenge is to come up with kid-friendly programs that utilize this space. Typically, children cannot use the Innovation Center without a trained adult present, for good reason, considering the dangers of the equipment.
A few years ago, when I was at another branch, staff at my current branch offered a Halloween Trick-or-Treat bag program, where they pre-cut heat-transfer vinyl on the Cricut and then heat-pressed the vinyl to multi-colored bags. The program was very popular and had a long waiting list. This year, we decided to offer the program again—two days in a row to accommodate double the amount of people! We accepted 12 registrations per program. With parents and some no-shows, we had 20 people attend each day. Two staff members and a volunteer adept at the heat press manned the program.
For a month or so before the program, a staff member pre-cut vinyl into various Halloween shapes and sayings. We chose colors such as black, white, green, orange, purple, and glitter purple. On the day of the program, we laid the children’s options out on long tables. We hung black and white pictures of these choices above them.
Families entered and children picked out their bag and the designs they desired. The next step was to “weed” the vinyl, which is removing unwanted vinyl from the design. The hung pictures truly help with this task—we told families to weed anything that was white on the image and leave the black—this portion was the design to be heat pressed to the bag. Children were given weeding tools. Seem rippers also work well for this task.
Finally, children laid out their designs how they wished on their bags and brought them to our volunteer who heat-pressed them. Time permitting, they could decorate the back of their bag as well. As you can see, the results were colorful and fun! (See Sammy and Mason below!)
We are thinking of making decorated aprons for Mothers’ Day. I look forward to working more in our Innovation Center and finding other creative ways to let kids in on the fun!
This post covers the Core Competency of Programming Skills.