The Home #Makerspace: How To Build Your Own Pinball Machine (with Working Launcher & Flipper)

dsc_2716-collageSometimes, a teacher needs to court a little controversy.  This week, Things 1 & 2 & I build a device which was banned in New York City from the 1940s until 1976, and can be found in high quality dens of iniquity and vice, such as bowling alleys and boardwalk amusements.

Pinball.  I’m talking about pinball.  Cue the Who!

This project is most appropriate for older makers in 5th grade and up depending on their skill and available supervision with box cutters.  Makers in grades 3/4 would benefit greatly from guided adult supervision.  I estimate 10 work-hours for young makers to build this machine.  Simplifying or eliminating the mechanics will greatly reduce the time necessary.

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While not difficult in terms of physical execution, this project involves a lot of cutting and gluing.  The mechanical complexity can be daunting for younger makers.  My 5-year old lost interest building the mechanical parts, but thoroughly enjoyed assembling and decorating the game.  I have included plans in SVG & DXF to help you build your own baseball pinball game.  Just print out full-size or copy the dimensions!

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Home #Makerspace: How to Saw (for Young and Beginning #Woodworkers)

I use Japanese-style saws exclusively in my classroom and home shop because I have young makers.  I love the quick bite and accuracy of a pull stroke, the low cost and high quality, but mostly, enjoy handing my saw to … Continue reading Home #Makerspace: How to Saw (for Young and Beginning #Woodworkers)

Home #Makerspace: A Young #Maker ‘s First Saw Kit

3 Saws and a Miter Box. A beginning woodworker needs enough equipment to make only two types of cuts; the cross cut and curve.   For cross cuts, I suggest a Japanese-style “pistol grip” carpenter’s saw for older makers, age 7 & … Continue reading Home #Makerspace: A Young #Maker ‘s First Saw Kit

Home #Makerspace: The Bench Hook is a Secret Weapon for #Woodworkers

Bench hooks are portable work surfaces used to make basic woodworking tasks, such as crosscutting boards and drilling holes, easier to perform.  As a bonus, they help protect the surface of your woodworking bench from bumps and dings.

In the makerspace, bench hooks can be used for numerous tasks and roles (such as a surface to solder on without ruining Mom’s dining room table).

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These week, my youngest and I made two bench hooks.  The most common design works best with saws that cut on a push stroke.  We also made and tested a bench hook modified for pull saws.  Bench hooks can be modified in numerous ways, so take the jump and get hooked!

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Home #Makerspace: Halloween Pumpkin String Lights #3DPrinting #makered Project

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Here’s a great “getting started” 3D printing project for young #MakerEd students.  It combines rudimentary circuit knowledge, gross motor skills and safe tool use.  It costs about $5 to make (excluding the cost of a 3D printer) and can be modified to fit any holiday, not just Halloween.

These pumpkin string lights are appropriate for young makers K and up.  While this version uses glue guns, safety conscious adults can use blue tack or sticky wax instead.

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Home #Makerspace: Simple Kid’s Game Boards for Young Makers #Woodworking

This week, we made a quick foldable checkerboard inspired by my youngest child’s love of the game. This basic folding design can expanded and modified to play any board game. Just let your imagination run wild!

This project incorporates measuring, marking boards square, using a hand drill and hand saw, and an all natural, no-fuss stain (although it is stinky!). Super quick, super cheap and super easy for young makers between K – 3rd grade. Continue reading Home #Makerspace: Simple Kid’s Game Boards for Young Makers #Woodworking

Home #Makerspace: Making Geometric Nets with Vinyl Cutter

In this project, young makers use a vinyl cutter to cut and score geometric nets, connecting 2D shapes to 3D prisms, polyhedrons, etc.  They learn to recognize the difference between two and three-dimensions, while also seeing a relationship between the two.  Lastly, this is a great opportunity for fine motor skill practice.  The plastic requires superglue to connect, but paper nets can be assembled with hot glue or glue sticks.

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Home #Makerspace: Miter Boxes for #Woodworking #Makered

Sometimes, young (and old…) woodworkers can use a little help sawing a board accurately, especially if the board must have a specific angle or length.  A miter box helps a woodworker saw a 90 or 45 degree angle into a piece of wood.  They are cheap to make, easy to modify and cut accurately.

Miter boxes are channels with slots cut into them.  The slots guide the hand saw blade for accuracy and precision.  The sides allow the user to clamp down the miter box and work pieces to the table or work bench, which greatly increases safety.

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To use a miter saw, place your work piece in the channel, with your cut line against the kerf of the wood.  Use a clamp to clamp the work piece and miter box to the table, as shown.  Then place the saw in the cutting slot and saw away!

Take the jump to build your own.

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Home #Makerspace: The Bread Box Project #woodworking #makerEd

This quick project makes a great starter box for grown woodworkers, but it especially shines as an approachable young person skill builder.  This slick box teaches three major skills: measurement, accuracy in manufacture of parts and joinery.  A teacher or parent can use this simple project to differentiate between beginning, intermediate and expert woodworkers by adding complexity in the appropriate areas. 

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The following instructions describe how to build this project with pre-k to 2nd or 3rd graders.  The adult preps the wood, while the student assembles the pieces, learning to use a hammer, nail set, hand drill and hand plane.  Older students can measure and cut their own wood using appropriate tools.

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