Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace

Beauty Science

One of our goals for the year is to host career readiness programming for teens but how do we make that sound exciting to a 14 year old?  Our first career readiness program was called beauty science and teens created popular beauty items and we discussed the science and careers associated with it.

Will boys come to this? Yes!

Bath Bombs

We weren’t sure if teens took baths but on social media, bath bombs are not about relaxation; it’s about taking a video of a cool fizzing sphere.  We don’t care what they do with them.  As a matter of fact, we asked them to tag us in their videos.

Budget: $60/50 teens; 3 small bombs/teen

Ages: 10+

  • Citric acidbath bombs
  • Corn starch
  • Baking soda
  • Epsom Salt
  • Food dye
  • Essential oils
  • Molds (small)
  • Bowls
  • Measuring spoons
  • Mixing spoons
  • Plastic wrap
  • Goody bag
  • Spray bottles of water


  • Out of 20 participants, 4 were boys
  • Twisting the molds together seemed to work better
  • Sometimes the molds don’t work.  If this happens, dump out the mix, add a couple of sprays of water, and mix again.
  • Let the bombs sit out unwrapped while teens make their other molds.  Then wrap them.  They seem to hold better when they dry out for a while.
  • If you want to turn this into a long program, 1.5 hours, allow teens to experiment with colors (galaxy, unicorn, black).  Teens can also put toys inside the bomb.  They can do themes (Hogwarts sorting, etc). You can have teens create their own company and give their bombs names and they can design a logo on a sticker or tag.
  • Here’s the PDF of the instructions- bath bombs.

DIY Lip Balm

Teens find this to be the most fascinating because they can’t believe it’s so easy to make something they buy in the store.

Budget: $55/50 teens

Age: 12+

Supplies Needed:


Disclaimer-We used a counter top burner but you can use the double boiler method.

If you have a microwave in your room, this is ideal but if you don’t, you can boil a bowl of water and place a metal or glass bowl over the bowl with hot water.  You need to be able to melt the wax.

We did this program as a drop in so only four teens could do it at a time. The following batch was enough for six teens.

  1. Have the group decide what color they want their lip balm to be.  Give them that color crayon.  The crayon will not leave a pigment on the lip; it just creates color for the balm.
  2. Have one teen pour a 1/4 cup of beeswax into a glass or metal bowl. Pass the bowl.
  3. Have the next teen put a table spoon of shea butter or petroleum jelly into the bowl
  4. Have the next teen break crayons into the bowl and add a couple of drops of essential oil.
  5. Melting time:
    1. If you are doing this as a drop in, the staff can stand at the front of the table with the double boiler and allow one teen to stir the ingredients until melted.
    2. If you are doing a group of teens, you can pre-boil water and place it on a table cloth in the middle of each table of teens.  Have one teen put the bowl with ingredients on top of the boiling water and the teens can take turns mixing.  Just be sure to remind them A LOT that that bowls are hot and to not touch them with out an oven mitt.
  6. We transferred the melted ingredients into a Pyrex measuring glass for easy pouring.
  7. I’d recommend a staff member to the pouring.
    1. Have teens place a funnel in their tubes and pour the ingredients.
  8. Have teens set their tubes in the middle to dry.
  9. While it is drying, teens can clean up and write their name or the type of lip balm on the label that comes with the tubes.


  • This program is very quick and only took about 10 minutes.  To provide a longer program, you can have teens make several different types of beauty products.
    • You could create a career readiness program and have teen create a beauty company and a logo.  You can have teens work in groups and “pitch” their product to the group.
    • You could use the M in STEAM and have teens make their lip balm company into a business.  They could figure out profit/cost. You could teach Google Slides or Power Point and have teens create their presentation on slides to present to the group.
  • Out of 17 teens, none were boys.  Boys were not interested in making lip balm even though they use it.  I tried to encourage them to make it by telling them to give it to their mom or girlfriend-nothing worked.
  • The tubes are professional looking but they aren’t cute.  I prefer these containers because you can add glitter and you can actually see the lip balm. It’s also cheaper.


DIY Sugar Body Scrub

Budget: $45/16 teens-depending on the supplies you already have

Age: 10+

Supplies Needed:


  1. Important: The mixture should be 75% sugar and 25% oil.  This is important depending on your container size.
  2. Mix sugar and oil in a bowl or the container if the opening is big enough.
  3. Add a couple of drops of essential oil.
  4. Add dye until you get the desired color.


  • This project only takes about 10 minutes.  If you want to stretch this to a longer program:
    • Teens can make labels.
    • You can provide a plethora of oils, extracts, fruit zests, body glitter, etc for teens to make their own recipe.
    • Teens can make several scrubs for holiday gifts.
  • Out of 27 teens, 8 boys participated.  For some reason, boys wanted to make body scrub to give away to their mothers.

Our makerspace does daily drop in programs for the after school crowd and a longer traditional program for teens who come to the library specifically for the program.  We did these three projects over a course of three days in a week.

As you can see, these activities were very popular among our teens by the attendance we received. I think beauty science is similar to slime because they mixed different ingredients and made one cool thing. They are so proud of themselves for making something and we ask if they use the items they make in the programs and they do!

To make a long story short, we will be hosting beauty science again.

Posted in Makerspace

Pencil Lead Pacman Control

So you have a couple of Makey Makey’s but you aren’t sure how to engage teens.  I’m faced with this every time I go to my storage closet and see a bin of 20 Makes Makey’s that I’ve used twice in two years.

We know that our teens like video games and we’ve discovered that our teens like to compete so we decided to have teens design their own game controller to compete in a Pacman competition.


Budget: $0-$250 (If you already have Makey Makey’s, it won’t cost you anything.)

Age: 7+

Supplies Needed:

How To:

  1. Set out Computers/Chromebooks and attach the Makey Makey, four alligator clips to the arrow inputs on the Makey Makey, and one alligator clip to the earth input.
  2. Cut white copy paper into quarters and have teens draw and shade in their own shapes on the paper.  It must extend to the end of the paper. See above picture for an example.
  3. Attach the arrow alligator clips to the pencil drawings and hold the tip of the earth alligator clip.
  4. Start the game and have teens touch their pencil lead controller buttons to play Pacman.
  5. Make sure you are using a Pacman game that keeps score.
  6. Document every time a teen achieves a high score and the teen with the highest score at the end of the day, wins.  We gave out a big bag of chips.


  • If the controller isn’t working, make sure the lead buttons are shaded in completely.  Also make sure the lead that is touching the alligator clip on the edge of the paper are thick lines.
  • Make sure teens are holding the tip of the earth alligator clip.
  • When teens play for a long time, sometimes it stops working.  This is because they have pencil lead residue on their fingers.  Have teens use hand sanitizer to clean their hands of lead.

Bonus Round: Geometry Dash

We have a big screen TV in our makerspace and we attached a Chromebook to the TV to have our teens compete in a Geometry Dash competition.

How To:

  1. Screen mirror your computer/Chromebook to your TV screen.  If you don’t have a large TV, just use the computer.
  2. Hook up the Makey Makey to your computer/Chromebook.
  3. Find a Geometry Dash game that works with the spacebar only.
  4. On the Makey Makey, attach one alligator clip to the space bar input and one alligator clip to the earth input.
  5. Have one teen hold the tip of the earth alligator clip and one teen hold the tip of the space bar alligator clip.
  6. Teens should clap to make the square jump.

How Does This Work?  Our bodies are conductive

Posted in Makerspace

Adulting 101

Hosting Adulting classes is a new trend in teen library program.  Adulting is a verb that high school graduates use to mean that they are doing something that makes them an adult.  Basically it means that teens these days were never taught basic skills that adults should know. Examples include, calculating a tip at a restaurant; ironing; cooking; sewing, etc.

This year, we are focusing on life-long skills but adulting sounds more fun in the newsletter.  Since we’ll be doing this all year, this will be an ongoing post and so far this month, we’ve hosted two adulting programs-sewing and hammering and nailing.

Cooking (Chopping Onions, Using a Can Opener, Using a Food Processor)


Teens made mini pizzas, salsa, and chocolate bark

Budget: $90/20 teens.  Ask staff for donations to cut down on cost-knives, cutting board, bowls, food processor, hot plate.

Age: 12+

Supplies Needed

  • Crescent rolls or biscuit dough
  • Mozzarella cheese sticks
  • Pepperoni
  • Pizza sauce
  • Onions
  • Canned whole tomatoes
  • Cilantro
  • Chocolate chips
  • Assortment of candy add-ins-marshmallow, M&M’s, pretzels, caramel chips, etc
  • Convection oven/oven
  • Food processor
  • Hot plate, stove top, or microwave
  • Large glass bowls
  • Cutting boards
  • Chopping knives
  • Manual can opener
  • Plates, spoons (plastic and metal/wooden)
  • Parchment or wax paper
  • sheet pans (The link is just an example. We paid $.88 at Walmart and it was fine.)
  • Tortilla chips
  • Lime juice, salt, pepper

How to:

You don’t have to make all three items if you are cutting costs.  The cheapest was the salsa.  You can also look for microwave or no bake recipes if you don’t have an oven.  I searched Pinterest for simple recipes.  Tailor your program based on what you think your teens need to learn how to do. I do strongly suggest in investing in a convection oven because you can do lots with it.

  1. Click the link for the pizza recipe.
  2. For Salsa
    1. Give each teen a small piece of onion and teach them how to properly use a cutting knife.  Do a Google search if you need to.
    2. Give each teen a small can of whole tomatoes and show them how to use a can Bi2hn0nOTFCau9CitVTtGgopener.
    3. Give each teen some cilantro to cut.  They should use the tips they learned when they cut the onion.
    4. I had a mini food processor for individual salsa prep.  You can however use a large one and have teens work in groups to make one large batch of salsa.
      1. Have the teens process the tomatoes first.  They may then add the onions and cilatro.
      2. Have them scoop some salsa in their own bowl and use the lime juice, salt, and pepper to season.
  3. For the chocolate bark
    1. Have teens work in groups of four.
    2. Allow teens to take turns melting the chocolate using the glass bowls, the hot plate, or microwave.
    3. Allow one teen to lay parchment or wax paper on the cookie sheet.jnq734cJQkCLfYAYxShrSg
    4. Allow two different teens to pour the chocolate and spread it on the cookie sheet.
    5. Using a knife, separate the chocolate into four equal sections.
    6. Allow teens to choose their ingredients (marshmallow, pretzel, etc) to press into their quadrant of chocolate.
    7. Place in the refrigerator to harden.


  • Make the chocolate bark first because it needs one hour to harden.
  • Make the pizza next so it can bake while you make salsa.
  • While they are eating, ask teens what they learned and encourage them to make this for dinner for their family.
  • Have teens do their own dishes between dishes.  Cooking includes cleaning.

Sewing a Button

Budget: $0-$50  Depends what supplies you already have

Age: 8+

Supplies Needed:

  • Felt/fabric
  • Thread/embroidery string
  • Sewing needles
  • Buttons
  • Batting
  • Scissors
  • Pusheen Pattern ( We didn’t do the pocket)

We made plush monsters to make it fun. Ours look different but I couldn’t find the online pattern so you can use a Pusheen pattern. Pre cut two Pusheen patterns to save time if you are hosting a drop in.  Let teens trace and cut if you have  1.5-2 hour program.  Have teens choose two buttons; different buttons make it monster-like.  Have teens take one side of the Pusheen and teach them how to sew a button.  They may sew a mouth or nose or just have buttons.


  • Teens had a tough time comprehending the fact that you have to sew diagonally on a four hole button.  I don’t know why.
  • Emphasize that they have to sew it at least four times.  Teens tried to rush and their buttons began falling off.
  • The first picture is a hemming stitch with thread.  Hemming stitches take longer.  I’d recommend the running stitch (2nd picture) if you are doing a drop in.
  • Although embroidery string looks better, we used thread because we wanted to teach the traditional way of sewing.  If you have a longer program, teens can make a second monster with embroidery string.



Budget: $0-$50  Depends what supplies you already have

Age: 8+

Supplies Needed:


  • Be ready to be busy! 99% of the teen participants had never ever used a needle and thread.
  • Teaching teens how to knot their thread was the HARDEST.  Everyone has a different style; I do the roll between index finger and thumb and pull method.  Many teens gave up on my method and did the inconvenient way. Most teens took the time and tried my method and when they did it, I congratulated them loudly, yelled, clapped, and danced. Anything to make them feel accomplished.
  • I used the term, running stitch, when I taught them how to sew.
  • I also taught them to complete the stitch before cutting it.
  • Your life will become easier when teens know how to thread the needle, tie a knot, and begin stitching without your help.

Hammer and Nailing

Budget: $40+/18 teens (Depends on supplies you already have)

Ages: 12+

Supplies Needed

We made an assembly line of supplies-wood blocks, shapes, string. As teens entered, we told them to choose one of each of the above.

Teens began by placing their template on their block and began nailing around the shape then remove the paper.  Using the string, tie a know around one nail then weave around the other nails.  There’s no right or wrong way.  I used this Youtube video to learn how to do it.

If you have a 1.5 to 2 hour program, teens can paint their block first-it dries fast.  You can also have them start with a simple shape then do a second with a shape of their choosing.


  • Watch teens carefully so that they don’t hit their fingers with the hammer.
  • Don’t place the nails too close.  It’s hard to weave the string.
  • Since it’s one continuous string, be careful not the let go because it will all unravel and they’ll have to start again.
  • Choose simple shapes that don’t require nails in the middle of the shape like a donut.  These take more nails.


Stay tuned for more adulting programs.

What adulting programs have you done at your library?

Posted in Makerspace

Create Your Own VR World

As programmers we talk a lot about taking a teen consumer and turning them into producers.  Since the popularity of VR and Google Cardboard and Oculus Rift, we have been trying to find a way for teens to create their own world.  Now we can and it’s called Cospaces.

With Cospaces, teens can create outer space , underwater sea life, interactive zoos, and much more.  Teens can code their world to make objects move or interact with the viewer and they can take their own 360 video and upload it into the platform.  Once their world is created, it can be viewed through vr goggles.

Here is my world.

Our project is to inhabit a new planet and create new sources of energy.

Budget: $0-$75-You can use the free version or you can upgrade to the pro version.  With pro, you get access to a larger library of objects, you get more coding options, and if you choose the edu pro site; you can create and share a template for your teens.

I will admit, having the option for creating and sharing a template is appealing because it can cut down on the completion time significantly but I don’t want to pay $75.

Time Needed: This can be tailored to your program.  You can do it in your 2 hour program or for your multiple day program.  It might be a stretch to get it done for your standard 2 hour program; I’d suggest lengthening it to 2.5 or 3 hours and provide a snack.

Pros: Teens do not need a smart phone to play.  You can play worlds on Chromebook, computer, or iPad.  Of course the program is creating a VR world so I’d suggest charging your phone so teens who don’t have a cell phone or don’t have a gyroscope phone can view the fun.

Teens can work in groups.  Of course only one person can work on the device at a time but collaborating on their world falls under life long skills.

It is a STEAM activity.  It includes design, technology, and coding.

Coding is standard drag and drop.

It’s pretty cool that teens can take a 360 view of the library they’re in and place people and objects.  This could be a LAB project for teens to create a library tour for your library’s website.



It’s not like Google Docs; more than one teen cannot work on a world at the same time on different devices.

It can take a long time to complete.


  • Allow teens time to design or outline on paper first so they aren’t constantly changing their minds.
  • Give teens a maximum amount of things they can code-two or three objects.  It can be overwhelming if teens think they have to code EVERYTHING on the screen.
  • Provide a prompt-create a desert island, life on Mars, etc.  It provides focus.
  • Begin as a group.  Have teens work along with you to make their starting point.  If you do a desert island, make the small island as a group to expedite the program.  Teens may then add objects to their island in their groups.
  • Familiarize yourself with the software.  Teens will have questions so I’d suggest making your own world so that you can run into problems to troubleshoot.
  • Tutorials. Have teens take the small tutorial that appears at the start of their project.  It takes ten minutes and it’ll help with basic questions.
  • Camera angles.  This took me a while to figure out; not sure why-LOL.  Familiarize yourself with camera angles because it can be frustrating.  If your world requires walking, point your camera to the starting point of your world.

What’s the Difference Between Maker and EDU?

Edu is designed for educators and you can track your teens’ worlds.  With edu, teens are invited through a code.  I’d suggest using edu if you are doing a long term program.

Maker requires teens to create an account and you cannot track their progress or their world.  I’d suggest using maker if you are doing a one time program so that teens can access and complete their worlds at home.

Have questions? Please feel free to ask.

Have fun!!

Posted in Makerspace

Express Crafts: Shrinky Dinks

Remember Shrinky Dinks from the 80’s? Well I do and apparently it’s still fun as hell. Shrinky Dinks is a craft where you buy special plastic, color it, and put it in an oven for it to shrink into a charm.

What’s So Great About Them?  Teens are amazed that you can color on a thin piece of plastic and it turns into a miniature charm.  They also like to watch the Dinks shrink and flatten in the oven-the amazement on the faces of high school boys was awesome!

Time Needed: 15+ minutes

Budget: $0-$75

ZERO DOLLARS?! Yes, you don’t have to buy the plastic.  You can make Shrinky Dinks using #6 plastic.  Many food containers are made with #6 plastic, especially pastries from the grocery store.  We asked staff to save and donate their #6 food containers.  #6 shrinks and stiffens the best.


You will need a toaster or convection oven and if your library doesn’t have one and you don’t want to buy one, ask a staff member if you can borrow theirs.

Supplies Needed:

  • #6 plastic containers or Shrinky Dink Plastic
  • Sand paper if you use #6 plastic
  • Markers
  • Colored pencils
  • Scissors
  • Hole punch
  • Images printed on paper
  • Toaster oven
  • Jump rings; keychain rings; pinback (optional)

Here’s How

I preprinted popular images and cut them out in squares.  They were about 4×4 inches.  Images included Harry Potter and superhero logos, sports team logos, Pokemon and Super Mario logos.  If you are worried about copyright, Google creative common images or allow teens to draw their own pictures.

Using a Sharpie/marker, trace the outline of the image on the shrink paper and color the image using colored pencil or markers.

  • If you are using purchased paper, trace and color on the rough side.
  • If you are using #6, sand paper one side and trace and color on the same side.
  • If you are making a keychain or necklace punch a hole in the plastic next to your colored image and cut out the image.
  • If you are using purchased paper, follow the instructions on the packaging.
  • If you are using #6 plastic, preheat the oven on 350 degrees.  Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 1-3 minutes.
    • It will begin to curl but don’t panic, it will flatten.  After it flattens, leave in the oven for 30 seconds and take out of the oven.  Lay a book on the Dink to ensure the flatness.
  • Hot glue a pinback to create fun charms.
My Slytherin tie pin made with #6.
Posted in Makerspace

Fidget Spinners Part 2: Hot Glue

Part 2 will focus on making a fidget spinner out of hot glue.  To see how to make a spinner out of paper, please click here.

I made a video of the instructions and below you will see written steps.

Please follow me on Instagram for teen library craft, maker, and recreational programs.

Budget: $50 +

Time Needed: 30 minutes

Supplies Needed:

  • Amazing Mold Putty ($16 for 150 grams)
  • Hot glue
  • Hot glue guns
  • Ball Bearings (You can buy cheaper bearings)
  • Adhesive glue spray (Ask your maintenance department first)
  • glitter
  • Aerosol hair spray
  • Fan (any kind of fan for drying)
  • Paint or nail polish  (Ask staff for nail polish donations)
  • Cheap fidget spinner to make your mold
  • Grease for bearings (Ask your maintenance dept. first)
  • Pennies

How To:

  1. Pre make your molds by following the instructions on the product.
    1. Disclaimer-the 150g box only makes four molds.
  2. Press your real spinner in the clay.
  3. Using a box cutter/Exacto knife, cut off the nibs left behind from your real spinner.
  4. Place your spinner in the center of mold.
    1. The bearings linked above are pre greased.  If you purchase a different bearing, simple push off the cover using a staple.  See if the balls are greased; if not, grease them.  This is optional but grease makes them spin faster.
    2. You can 3D print fidget spinner caps from Thingiverse.  I haven’t done this yet but I will.  Make sure you check the size of your bearings before you choose a cap to be sure it’s the correct size.
  5. Start with the bearing when you begin to hot glue.  Then continue to fill the rest of the mold with hot glue
    1. Tell teens to wait a minute after they insert a new glue stick to allow it to get hot.
  6. Wait a couple of minutes for the glue to dry and remove from mold.
  7. Using hot glue, fill in any holes and valleys.  Glue around the sides to clean it up. Wait another minute while it dries.  Make sure teens hold it while it’s drying.
  8. Spray the spinner with adhesive glue and pour glitter on the spinner over a bowl. Only do one side.
  9. Spray the spinner with hair spray to seal the glitter.
  10. Have teens put their spinner on a drying table in front of a fan.
    1. If you don’t use a fan, it will take a couple of hours to dry.  Ask your maintenance dept. if they have fans.
  11. Once it’s dry, repeat on the other side.
    1. If you want to use pennies as weights, hot glue the pennies to this side and cover with glitter.
    2. Teens can make another spinner or eat snacks while they wait for their spinner to dry.
  12. If they do not want to use glitter, they may use paint or keep it clear.
  13. You do not have to use glitter to make a cool spinner.
    1. Teens can insert gems, sequins, pom poms, etc into the glue before it hardens as decoration.
    2. You can also purchase glitter glue sticks from Amazon, Hobby Lobby, or Dollar Tree.

Using Fidget Spinners to Teach STEAM

See part 1 for full STEAM ideas.

You can use the ball bearings to teach friction and torque.  I got a C in high school physics so I’ll just reference you to an article I found online.


Posted in Makerspace

Fidget Spinners Part 1: Paper

Fidget spinners are perfect for makerspaces because it fits all the letters of STEAM and you can tailor your program to fit the interests of your teens.  Part 1 will focus on paper fidget spinners and next week will focus on glue fidget spinners.

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If you want a beginner fidget spinner program, try the artsy/crafty approach.  

Budget:  $5-$20

Time Needed: 30 minutes-1.5 hours

Supplies Needed:

Cardstock- Assorted colors

Large gems (Walmart or Dollar Store)

Plastic drinking straws

Hot Glue

Glue stick



Standard hole punch


How To:

  1.  Print out a fidget spinner template on cardstock.  Allow teens to choose their own colors.  This is not the one I used in the picture but any template will do.  Here’s a good one.  You can pre cut them or give each teen three sheets and let them choose and cut.  It depends on the length of your program.
  2. Using a glue stick, glue three spinners together-this is for thickness.
    1. Optional-you can use white cardboard or foam core but you’ll have use an Exacto knife to cut cleanly.  If you don’t mind your teens using an Exacto knife, simply give teens a template on printer paper, let them cut it out and trace it on cardboard or foam core, and let them use the Exacto knife to cut out a thicker fidget spinner.
  3. Allow teens time to draw their own artwork on both sides of their spinner.fidget spinner 8
    1. Optional-Take out the glitter and let them go nuts. Crafter tip-after you glitter, use cheap aerosol hairspray to seal the glitter.
  4. Cut a small piece of the straw.
  5. Place a small tab of hot glue in the center of the gem and glue one end of the straw.
  6. Punch a hole through the center of the spinner.
  7. Put the straw that’s glued to the gem through the hole.  The straw should not protrude too far, if it does cut if off. If the straw is too long, it won’t spin evenly.
  8. Hot glue the other gem to the straw and allow to dry.
  9. Trace the penny on cardstock and cut out three circles. Hot glue the circles to the pennies and the pennies to the spinner.



If you want to incorporate design and/or computers, try this approach.

Use computers or iPads to allow teens to design their fidget spinner. Teens can use the free Adobe Illustrator app to draw their own spinner.  It’s important that spinners be symmetrical and the Adobe app will allow you to cut and paste and rearrange to ensure symmetry.  Print their designs and follow the steps above.

Teens can also free draw a spinner.  Once again, symmetry is important so provide rulers.  Print their designs on cardstock and follow the steps above.


  • Change the project sheet to grid.  This will make it easier to draw equal sides.
  • Have teens begin with a circle that’s 3 centimeters or 3 squares. (They can erase it later).
  • Have teens make three sides instead of four.  It was a challenge to use the hole punch with four sides.
  • Upon completion, have teens email their designs to you.  Once you receive the email, copy and paste it into publisher because you can resize it.  Resize the spinner to 3 inches.  Copy and paste three spinners to one sheet and print on cardstock.


If you are focusing on physics, try this approach.

Fidget spinners use Newton’s first law of motion-inertia. An object at rest stays at rest and an object in motion stays in motion with the same speed and in the same direction unless acted upon by an unbalanced force.

Basically, spinners work because of symmetry and you can teach this.

You can pre make a spinner that is slightly unbalanced/unsymmetrical and have teens use critical thinking skills to tell you why it doesn’t spin well.  Have teens redesign the spinner to make it symmetrical.  You can also play with weight.  You can demonstrate the importance of weight, or balance, by placing two pennies on one side and one penny on the other sides.  When it’s time for teens to make their own spinner, give teens weight options-pennies, dimes, washers, magnets, etc.  They can experiment to see which weights spin faster. Here’s a great site for reference.

Ball bearings also contribute to the physics of fidget spinners because of friction.  The above spinners don’t use ball bearings but my part 2 post will.  Stay tuned.


Posted in Holiday Programs, Makerspace

Chibi Holiday Cards

I see visions of cardstock, die cut winter shapes, and glue dancing in my head.  It’s holiday card making season which means tables of kids and teens surrounded by a tables of card making supplies.  If you would like to add STEM to your program, add chibitronics.

Budget: Assuming you have the basic supplies-$35-$55

Length: 30 minutes

Supplies Needed:

  • Cardstock of all colors
  • Paint Sample (I took a bunch from Walmart)
  • Glue stick
  • Rulers
  • Scissors
  • Scotch Tape
  • Gem stickers & foam stickers
  • Hole punch
  • Mounting tape or little pieces of cardboard if you are on a budget
  • Stamps (optional)
  • Copper Tape
  • Chibitronics $30/30-Yes, it is expensive!

Here’s How:

  • Cut colored cardstock into quarter sheets.
  • Cut white cardstock into slightly larger sheets.
    • I used white becasue teens used holiday stamps on the back and it’s easier to see on white paper.
  • The Cover.
    • Begin by punching a hole at the top middle of the paper. This is where you will see the light on the chibi.
    • Allow teens to decorate the cover.
      • Have teens cut three triangles with the paint samples.
      • Layer the triangles to look like trees.
      • Stick a gem/sticker on top of the outside trees.
      • I have snow but if you look at the image below, you can precut circles and I’ll tell you how to use it later.

holiday cards 8


  • Behind The Curtain
    • Copy the images below if you prefer.
      • If you prefer to know how it works:
        • Pre cut little strips of paper for the battery holder and tape it to the bottom right.
        • Run to pieces of copper tape paralell (remember to cut the tape in half).  Have teens place one long piece of tape.  Don’t cut the tape; it can break the circuit.
        • The left side should run longer then turn right. The tape should run all the way onto the battery holder.
        • The right side should be shorter before you turn right.  Run the right tape over the top of the battery holder.
        • The chibi can be place either way and your battery should be placed accordingly.  In the picture, the + side of my chibi is on the left and therefore, the left side of the tape should touch the + side of the battery.
          • TIP-If you’ve done your circuits correctly and your chibi doesn’t work, press your copper tape and your chibi down.  If this doesn’t work, try a new battery.
        • Tape the bottom half of the battery.  Be sure the tape doesn’t cover the entire battery because it breaks the circut.
        • When you fold the battery holder down, it should activate the chibi.
  • Complete The Card
    • Place the mounting tape on three sides of the bottom and secure the cover.  Make sure the chibi light shows through the hole.
    • Get your little white circle cut outs and find the battery holder with your finger.  Glue the circle on top of the battery holder.
    • Use a stamp to stamp “Press Here” or write it.
    • Flip the card over and stamp or write a holiday greeting.
holiday cards 6
The white circle activates the light when it is pressed.


All Done!

Do you have teens who just want to make cards?  You can make the card above without the chibitronic. You can also turn your holiday cards program into community service.  Check out this link below for information on how to send holiday cards to incarcerated youth.

Posted in Big Programs, Makerspace, Passive Programs

Slime Party

I know you are afraid, but don’t be. It’s going to be okay.

My teen programming spans 6-12th grade and our attendance has been skewing older and we need to attract 6th graders-SLIME!  75% of our attendance was middle school.

Slime can be expensive. The more teens you anticipate and the more types of slime you make will break your budget.  We had 90 teens over a span of three days and we made five different types of slime and our budget was about $430.00.  DON’T PANIC! You can adjust to fit your budget.  I will break down the price of each type of slime we did and you can pick and choose.

None of our recipes used Borax.  Borax can cause rashes on sensitive skin so I looked for recipes that used other ingredients.  Liquid starch is difficult to find in stores.  We found it at Walmart but I’d suggest purchasing from Amazon and get a lot becasue you don’t want to run out at the last minute like we did.

We bought containers for them to store their slime but you can use baggies too.

slime party 2

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Heat Sensitive Slime-Changes colors when touched with cold hands.

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including glue & liquid starch)-$95

Thermochromic Pigment $20 for one 10 gram container.  I bought four so it’ll be $80.

DISCLAIMER: I didn’t use food coloring.  It affected the pigment.

slime party 1

Magnetic Slime-Moves with magnets. Search Youtube to see how it works.

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including glue & starch)- $70

Magnets  $19.99 for 20.  I bought two packs.  You can search for cheaper but they must be strong.

Black Iron Oxide (Magnetic Powder) $12.99 for one pound.  One pound is enough for 30 teens.

DISCLAIMER: This is messy.  It’s very important for teens to knead quickly and to not get it on their clothes or paper.  It’s also important to wash their hands after playing with it.


Glitter Monster Slime

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including clear glue, starch, glitter, googly eyes, baking soda, contact solution)- $45

DISCLAIMER: This recipe calls for food coloring; we did not use it. Substitute food coloring for googly eyes.

DISCLAIMER #2: We purchased a one gallon container of clear glue and it costs about $27.  Get contact solution at the Dollar Store b/c brand name solution is expensive.


Glow in the Dark Floam

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including glue & starch & glow in dark paint)- $40

Styrofoam Balls– $9.99 for eight packs.  I bought two packs so it’ll be $20.

Fluffy Slime

Total Cost for 30 Teens (including glue, starch, contact solution, food coloring, and shaving cream)-$30

We used about five cans of shaving cream.

DISCLAIMER: Purchase contact solution, shaving cream, and food coloring from the Dollar Store.

slime party 5

STEAM Option

As I was practicing, I realized that you can experiment and add just about anything to make unique slime.  The important ingredients are glue (white or clear) and a binding agent-liquid starch or contact solution.

Set out different materials for teens to create their own slime-sand, sugar, beads, clay, Kool aid, or anything you have laying around.


We had five different slimes but by co worker told me that five may have been too many.  I agree and would recommend three different slimes.  Most teens make slime at school so I wanted to avoid the popular slimes like glitter slime.  That’s why we did magnetic and heat sensitive slime.

  • I had a line of tables covered in paper. As teens entered, I asked their name and
    had a staffer write their name on the paper.  This is where teens stored their completed slime.  You’ll see why below.

slime party 2

  •  I had a staff member at every slime table.  Every table held seven teens.
    • I’d recommend required registration so you know exactly how many chairs you’ll need.
    • The staffer had teens fullfil the steps one at a time.  Example, if the first step is 1/2 cup of glue, the staffer had teens pour glue into their bowls and pass it to the next teen.  She didn’t go to the next step until everyone had 1/2 glue.
  • When teens were done with each slime, they went to the covered table, put their slime in a container, and put it by their name.
    • Teens then go back to their table and wait until the other tables are finished.
  • Once everyone is finished, we rotated tables.
  • After each teen has been to each table, the party was over.
    • You can have snacks or let teens play with their slime when everything is finished.


  • Popscicle sticks for stirring
  • Bowls (You may need bigger bowls for floam)
  • Measuring cups and spoons (enough for two cups/spoons for each table)
  • Containers to store glue and starch for easy pour. (those big gallons of glue are heavy).
  • Table covers
  • Plenty of napkins and wet wipes
  • Baggies or plastic containers
Posted in Holiday Programs, Makerspace

Christmas in the Makerspace

We recently turned out teen room into a makerspace and while we used to decorate the teen room for the holidays, I wanted to do something different for the makerspace.  Instead of simply putting up decor and trimming the tree, teens will make ornaments for our the tree and to take home.  All of my ideas came from Pinterest.  If you’d like to follow me on Pinterest, I have a link to my page on the right of this post.

Ornaments Ideas:

Ornaments with Hot Glue

Hot glue -For some strange reason, our teens love the hot glue gun.  It’s like normal glue is useless because they only want to hot glue things together.  To satiate the love, they’ll make snowflakes using hot glue and nail polish or paint.  Here’s the craft on Pinterest.

Hot glue and Modge Podge Snowflakes

Pipe Cleaner and Borax Snowflakes

Don’t have a tree but have windows? Snowflake Window Cling Snowflake Window Cling

Ornaments with Popsicle Sticks


Tree Tree

Clear Balled Ornaments-  I purchased ornaments at The Dollar Tree for 2/$1

Harry Potter Themed


Teen’s Names

Melted Crayon

Sewing/Yarn Ornaments

Trees & Stars

Yarn Hats

And of course you can’t forget good old 3D printing ornaments.

Happy Holidays!