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Maker Camp For Girls

IMG_1329As many of you have experienced, your Minecraft, robotics, Lego, science, or other maker program is mainly attended by boys.  As our nation becomes more digital, we know that it is vital for young ladies to consider these careers so we provided a maker camp for middle to high school aged girls. Rowdy Girls Maker Camp was a four-week camp that ran from 1-3pm.  The themes included video game creation, LEDs, simple machines, and soldering. We have never done anything like this before and we were a bit worried if any girls would come. We do several crafting programs which are overwhelmingly attended by girls. Crafting is making, you say? Why yes it is, but our crafting programs usually focus on design.  So that got us thinking, if we market Rowdy Girls as design and engineering (STEAM) perhaps we’ll get some attendance. We did! The attendance was low but it was good considering this was our first venture.

Week 1: Video Game Creation

We used the Floors app from Pixel Press. As of now, you can only create on an iPad but you can play games on phones.  WithIMG_0637 Floors, you use a grid sheet to design/draw your game and then you scan your design into the app.  After it is scanned, you can change your hero and your background. Floors focuses on designing and not coding.  Just like real game designers, teens must play their game, find the problems, and redesign.  Potential design problems could be that the game is too easy or too difficult.  Teens test each other’s games and provide constructive criticism and it’s back to the drawing board.

PROS

  • Pixel Press provides printable lesson plans.
  • Pixel Press has short instructional videos on Vimeo.
    • If you have Apple TV, you can show the videos in the front of the class.
  • It’s free.
    • All you need is the app, the printable grid, a pencil, a ruler, and an eraser.

Cons

  • It takes a long time to design, test and redesign.
    • Our program was 2 hours.  After the overview, the lesson plan, and watching videos we had about 1.5 hours left andIMG_0638 we ran out of time to redesign.
      • I suggest having the teens make a simple video game for the first two fioors and increase the difficulty for the third floor.  It took my teens about 45 minutes to design because they wanted to put every obstacle available on each floor.
  • The game won’t work if the lines aren’t dark and straight.
    • Although I told them this and told them to use a ruler, they didn’t listen and after they uploaded their game, it didn’t translate in the app.
      • Encourage teens to only do a couple of obstacles and to use a ruler.  You can draw in the app without paper and you can edit your paper design in the app but it’s clunky.
  • Scanning
    • Scanning designs in the app can be difficult. It’s like a QR code but tougher.  We found that having one person balance the dot in the middle of the screen and having another person position the paper under the iPad was the most effective method.

Overall I highly recommend this app.  The girls had fun and they were excited to see something they designed on paper come to life as a real game that everyone could play.

Click here to see the video

Week 2: LED Duct Tape Belts

LEDs are everywhere and teens use them everyday but most of them don’t know what they are.  LEDs are cheap and exciting way to teach teens about positive and negative battery charges.

Once again to attract girls, we used design by way of duct tape belts. We begin this camp with a quick lesson on LEDs and how they are used.  We gave the girls a battery and LEDs to let them explore.  We purchased the batteries and LEDs from adafruit.com.

After exploring, we had teens design a duct tape belt. I purposely purchased plain duct tape so that they wouldn’t rely on patterned tape.

Steps:

  1. Pick duct tape colors and LED colors.
  2. Measure your waist to make sure your belt is long enough and make sure it’s thin enough to fit through the belt loops.
  3. Make the belt.
  4. Put on the belt to decide where you want to put the LEDs.  Have a friend make a dot with a Sharpie to indicate the placement of the LEDs.
  5. Use a push pin to start the hole then use a screwdriver to make the hole bigger.
  6. Place the LEDs in desired spots and secure the batteries with duct tape.

Click here to see a video on how to make a LED duct tape belt.

Week 3: Castles and Catapults 

IMG_1281This week was a lesson of simple machines.  We began with a quick lesson on the invention of catapults and lesson on simple machines how we use them everyday.  We had the girls make and design castle out of a shoe box and paper towel rolls.  Assign each person a different color. Then they all made the same catapult.  You can Google a catapult instruction or use the book, Mini Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Each teen also received an equal number of marshmallows.  Marshmallows should be color coded. (We got the idea of catapults and marshmallows from the Arlington Heights Public Library).

Teens then find a place on the floor, equal distances apart and they launch marshmallows.  The goal is to get marshmallows in other’s castles. Tip: Let the marshmallows get stale a week before the program. Fresh marshmallows can ruin carpet.

Let the teens launch their marshmallows and when all are launched, they count to see how many marshmallows they landed.

After the first launch, have a discussion about their observances.  Have teens evaluate their catapults-did the marshmallow fly straight and/or far, was the arc too high or too low?  Provide more popsicle sticks and rubber bands and allow teens to redesign and practice launch their marshmallows for 10 minutes. (For the redesign, teens may use as many sticks and rubber bands as the need.)

Have a second launch and recount marshmallows.  Repeat the discussion within the time allowed.

Click here to see the video

Week 4: Soldering

IMG_1341Soldering can be scary to teens and librarians.  We had never seen a soldering iron and we were scared to use it and to let teens touch it.  We had one of our teens who took jewelry making in high school teach us how.  I’ll explain the beginning and Tomani will show you the soldering part.

Materials:

  • Soldering Iron-I purchased ours from adafruit.com
  • Flux-I purchased it from Ace Hardware
  • Solder-Purchased from Hobby Lobby.
  • Sandpaper
  • Tweezers
  • Wire cutters
  • Ceramic bowl of water

Steps:

  1. Rub sandpaper on the metals you plan to solder. This rids the metal of the oils from your fingers.
  2. Cut a piece of solder with the wire cutters
  3. Using tweezers to hold the piece of metal (ring) you plan to solder and add flux.
  4. Use tweezers to put the solder on the ring and add more flux.
  5. Use the tweezers to add the second piece of metal you plan to fuse.  We used a jump ring in the video.
  6. Add more flux
  7. Solder the metals.
  8. Place the newly soldered jewelry in the bowl of water to cool. They took turns soldering a jump ring to a ring to get them used to the soldering iron. We then laid out materials to make jewelry and let the teens create.

How to solder

 Evaluation

As I stated before, we had low attendance and the most attended was soldering.  Many of the attendees came to 2 or more meetings.

Girls between grades 5-12 attended Rowdy Girls.

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Author:

YA Librarian. Lover of Sherlock. And all Things Harry Potter.

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