Be a Maker

Art made from spinning ink on paper in a salad spinner
Art made from spinning ink on paper in a salad spinner
Etching a metal pot
Etching a metal pot
A Prosthetic hand made from a 3D printer
A Prosthetic hand made from a 3D printer

 

Imagine a student who can design and build a prosthetic hand, all on their own.  Or a group of students making a robot that shoots basketballs.  Or a ChemClub putting together a model car that runs on a tiny fuel cell.

It is all happening right now as part of the increasingly popular Maker Movement.  It is all about ” all-ages of tech enthusiasts, crafters, educators, tinkerers, hobbyists, engineers, and science clubs” coming together with the goal of “making stuff.”

Maker Faires

At a recent Mini-Maker Faire in Portland, Oregon, all sorts of makers were present.  One booth offered instruction on making masks and costumes from cardboard.  Another let attendees put together an electronic pin with blinking lights, learning how to solder and use solid state components in the process. Maker Faires are all-age gatherings that bring together a mix of people who share an interest in making things.  They started in 2006 with Maker Faires in New York and San Francisco.  By 2013 there were nearly a hundred independent mini-maker fairs offered all over the world.

Electric Playdough
Conductive playdough running a motor
Conductive playdough running a motor.

The Maker Movement has all the ingredients for a great ChemClub activity.  One perfect example was making Playdough and using it for experiments.  The typical recipe for homemade Playdough contains a lot of salt.  At the Mini-Maker Faire one group demonstrated how the Playdough could conduct electricity by sticking battery leads in one end and lighting up a mini LED bulb at the other.

Make Magazine is full of examples and ideas for Maker projects.  A recent posting had instructions on how to permanently etch metal, using simple household materials.  They used the technique for etching volume marks inside a stainless steel kettle, but it could be used to make ornaments or jewelery or any number of things.

Making Paper
Making Paper
Biosiesel to Yogurt

On the Maker Faire website they feature a special section for chemistry related projects that presents dozens of ideas, from making biodiesel to making yogurt.  This site doesn’t include complete instructions, but it is a rich source for ideas.

Perfect for ChemClub

Great ChemClub activities are a combination of learning basic chemistry while having a lot of fun.  Check out these and other Maker activities for your next meeting.

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