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Showing posts from 2016

Podcast on Toy Robots

Suzanne and I talk about toy robots. Here's a sneak peek at one worth discussing...

Science Toolboxes: An Update

We have been expanding our science kits in the
children's room in an effort to introduce non-traditional circulating items for over a year now. We have littleBits, Raspberry Pi 2, Sphero, Cubelets, KEVA planks and Makey Makeys. Our newest editions were the robots, Dash and BeeBot, which gained popularity after we had them out to test during the Hour of Code. I happen to be showing one of the kids the littleBits kit, since all the robotics kits were out, when I noticed some bits are just not holding up during circulation.

Our littleBits kit included Lego adapters, mounting boards, and the small starter kit which doesn't seem to be available anymore with 10 bits included. If you are new to littleBits, they are small magnetic pieces, each with their own function, that can be put together to make an electronic invention. Bits include lights, sensors, motors and speakers. You can integrate them into recyclables, Lego projects, sewing name it! For a while, we used the…

Adventures in Soldering: Holiday Tree Project Velleman MK100

I was infuriated that there weren't any soldering videos out there for this so called "beginner" project so I made my own with mistakes and all. Keep in mind I've only soldered twice in my life. Once I made a Larson Scanner for a pumpkin (Battlestar Galactica Cylon) and the second time I made a Maker Bot badge.

Keeping with the Christmas theme for the makerspace events this month, I used the Velleman MK100 kit Christmas Tree.  I will tell you out of the three projects the Maker Bot badge is where to start as a "beginner". When I hosted the class last Saturday, anyone who hadn't soldered before watched a brief intro video Soldering 101 from Adafruit (I just skipped to where there are close ups of the soldering procedure) and then I supervised while they made a Maker Bot badge. I am happy to say that all the kids successfully finished the tree and badge in an hour and they all worked (SPOILER: unlike my first try). The middle schoolers were on their own …

Cozmo, the new library pet?

I saw a very interesting ad on Hulu last week which introduced me to Cozmo, the latest edition of mass market toy robots. Cozmo is Wall-E come to life literally AND I NEED HIM.

He has his own personality that is directly affected by your actions with facial recognition software so he can actually recognize you and learn your name. He can request if you'd like to play through a phone or iPad and if you say no, he gets SAD! The more you play with Cozmo, the more features you unlock. Here is an awesome unboxing and demo of his skill set from Dad Does. He might be this year's hottest Christmas toy since he's "out of stock" at the moment everywhere and is going on e-bay for $500.

Needless to say, this is on my library wishlist. Imagine kids coming to visit Cozmo and he would recognize them and want to play ? He's the new allergy friendly library pet! TAKE MY MONEY!

Happy Hour of Code Week

Don't forget that next week is the Hour of Code, a global initiative to entice people of all ages to learn one hour of coding through games.  You don't need to do anything more than download some promotional materials and lead patrons to the website for them to sign in.  To extend the hour of code beyond the website, we'll be putting out some of our robots to try.

This year's newest addition to our circulating collection is the adorable Dash robot. Who is by far my favorite robot that I have played with because Dash actually has a personality! I immediately wanted to hug him and yell "Johnny 5 Alive!" Dash talks, blinks, lights up and runs around on 3 wheels. He has a companion robot, Dot, many fun accessories, and even Lego brick adapters.

The apps that I downloaded for him on our iPad gen. 2 (gen 1 won't work) are:

Blockly Jr.

Wonder is the hardest and least intuitive app, aimed for experienced robotics users or at least middle school s…

3D Printing Holiday Ornaments

This holiday season, I was inspired by snowflake silhouette 3D prints and wanted to teach a class using the draw-print image method I have blogged about previously.

This time I would skip the drawing step and use google images to find a pre-made silhouette.   I started by googling Mario star silhouette. I saved the file as a JPG then converted to SVG using online-convert, imported into Tinkercad, then hit CTRL + D  multiple times for smart duplicate (thank you Tinkertips). I tried once with mario stars and twice with the Doctor Who Tardis.

Here are my results..

 My conclusion was trying to teach a class in this is much too complicated for beginners. It required much more precision (as shown in the Mario star snowflake that broke apart because the stars weren't connected enough) as well as finding silhouettes that lend themselves to 3D printing. The Tardis was having issues because of design alone. By making the Tardis 20% fill, it wasn't enough for the 48 mm size to complete …

DIY Halloween: Unicorn Light Up Hoodie

This tutorial is a combination of the DIY unicorn hoodie tutorial I found on Pinterest and Adafruit's light up unicorn 3D print tutorial. I used some supplies from Adafruit's candle bows that we made a few years back instead of buying new materials. You can buy the sewing conductive kit separately on Adafruit without the bows.  I won't go through every excruciating detail but here are some tips that they don't mention and a few workarounds that worked for me based on my supplies. 
Supplies needed from both tutorials:  Hoodie (dress in my case) Yarn 3D printed Unicorn Horn with LED base 3D printer with clear PLA filament (I didn't use flexible as the tutorial calls for and it was fine) 1 LED (11mm tall X 7.91 mm wide) Conductive Thread Needle (small enough the fit through the battery holder brass side holes. In the Adafruit kit, I used the smallest needle on the right) Battery Holder Regular Thread Felt (not necessary but handy- see bottom note) Safety Pin Scissors

More 3D printing opportunites

Think of all the kits in your collection that may have been thrown away because the parts could not be replaced! I recently designed a replacement xylophone mallet for a circulating children's kit. Thanks to the digital caliper I was able to measure the dimensions from the old one on the right (was it chewed!? these mysteries bother me) and added some upgrades like a handle using premade shapes in Tinkercad to the new one on the left. Since printing in PLA isn't as strong as the typical ABS plastic, I made a thicker bottom. This printed in 2 hours and took me 15 minutes to create in Tinkercad. Just another example of staff using the 3D printer in their daily lives!

Speaking of which, Halloween is coming up so this year's costume was inspired by an Adafruit tutorial on lighting up a unicorn horn.   The library staff has decided to be storybook characters this year so it was right up my alley. The free horn, including a bottom to fit an LED and sew-able clips, took 2 hours t…

DEMCO has a makerspace section

DEMCO, a huge retailer of all things library, released a makerspace section of their website that offers furniture solutions like makercarts, portable storage cabinets and even popular science kits like littleBits! For libraries having a tough time buying from outside vendors, this would be a viable solution, albiet a bit pricier than other vendors. Libraries usually have a DEMCO supply account especially if they have bought furniture in the last decade. I'm drooling over the 3D printer cart as we speak.

Even if you couldn't afford DEMCO prices, maybe there is someone handy on staff that could DIY some of these furniture ideas onto stuff we already have. If I could buy anything in my dream makerspace, my top 3 would be: 3D printer cart, STEM cart, and some mini folding flip tables.   I'm really into everything being on wheels lately. Our library's makerspace isn't "dedicated" so the thought of having roving carts and tables that are easy to cart around ou…

Halloween 3D Printed Pumpkins

I can't take credit for this one. I subscribe to the Newton Free Library events calendar because they have lots of great examples of STEM programming and this one particularly struck me. This October they are virtually "carving" pumpkins in Tinkercad. Thanks John Walsh!

The skills learned in Tinkercad for this project are holes, grouping, using multiple workplanes and rotating shapes. TIP: Make sure to leave plenty of room between the eyes and the mouth or it won't have enough solidity to print properly. I left 11mm distance between the end of the eyes and the beginning of the mouth. 

Step 1:
I imported a pumpkin shape from the web and added a sphere from the pre-made shapes on the left sidebar of Tinkercad.

Step 2: I added a new workplane on the front center of the sphere (now orange grid appears). I used the roof for eyes and the round roof for the mouth out of the pre-made shapes. The shapes needed to be sized and rotated. Then grouped it all together.

Step 4: I m…

3D Printing Food Safe Items?

I wanted to throw this one out there to the makerspace/Ultimaker community. Has anyone had experience printing food safe items?

I just stumbled upon Cookie Caster, a free website to make your own cookie cutters and thought it would be a great program for the upcoming fall/winter holiday season. However, with some introductory research from one of my co-workers, it seems like we might have to go with buying food safe filament.   Granted most of the plastic people use still has harmful chemicals like BPA even though it was FDA approved but that's a different rant for a different day. So the question is, if it is just a one time use cookie cutter, printed in regular PLA, with take some safety instructions, will it be OK? or should we venture food safe? Or should we just wait for more research......I think use-able bowls and cups are definitely out for the near future.

On a fun food end note, our custodian is leaving who LOVES Cheez-Its so we're 3D printing him a bowl with fake ch…

Practical 3D Applications Part 3

I have a glass water bottle that is very hard to clean because it has a small mouth opening. Normally I clean it with a paper towel attached to a chopstick. One of our staff found me cleaning it one day and said, "Why don't you 3D print something?" Why indeed!

My idea was to take 2 toothbrushes, measure out the width and length of the bottom of the brushes with my trusty digital caliper, then make a long attachment so I can reach deep down without using my hand. I used pre-made shapes in tinkercad.

My first attempt was a dud. It didn't fit inside the bottle! My second attempt with the entry holes very far down offered no support to the brushes and they just went willy nilly everywhere once I got inside the bottle. Now granted I could have taped them together or used elastics but this was not the point.

So I figured, why not just use one toothbrush? The third attempt was a one hole design but the hole was too far down and the brush still needed support so my fourth at…

Integrating the 3D Printer Into Program Giveaways & Marketing Promotions

Need to make an award?  Now that we have a 3D printer readily available, there are so many opportunities for customized giveaways/prizes that we would normally have to go out and purchase through companies like Oriental Trading.

For our first egg drop last summer, we 3D printed medals that we designed in Tinkercad for the winners. Egg drops are really fun and low stress program since all you provide is the eggs and a tarp. We dropped contraptions kids made from home out the 2nd story window to see if their egg inside survived. Since that went over so well, next spring we made a Peep Award for our Book themed Peep Dioramas. This was another stress free program as kids worked together at home to design the Peep dioramas and brought them in for judging and viewing. These shapes were very easy to combine in Tinkercad. I think in hindsight it would be nice to put lettering on it to say Duxbury Free Library and the year.

During the annual summer Lego Contest 2 years running, we 3D printed …