We have purchased some kits, with the parts and instructions, to make many of the cool things you see in our videos. Below are descriptions and links to where you can find them. Once you purchase a kit and understand the item’s design, parts can be purchased separately, or modified, to build these fun mechanisms less expensively or in different more creative ways.
Blinkybugs – Blinkybugs are creatures with LED eyes that blink on and off through movement, giving them a lifelike appearance. Instructions for the bugs can be found at the Blinkybug.com web site and the kit can be purchased from Maker SHED. We read a review where one purchaser found making the bugs a bit frustrating, our more experienced Maker Kids ages 10 and up are able to make them quite quickly without much trouble. They are unique and fun!
Crystal Radios – Crystal radios are intriguing and a way to learn about mechanical and sound energy, also magnetism. These devices pick up AM signals with a few parts and NO BATTERIES. Their power source is the energy of the radio waves themselves. They are inexpensive to make, but the drawbacks for younger makers are that parts require soldering and the radios work best with long external antennae wires (that users toss up onto tree branches). A source for crystal radio making and supplies is Sci-Toys.
Lego WeDo – Our younger makers have built and programmed robots with the Lego WeDo kit. Those who are interested in programming can also try Scratch programming from MIT. Like Lego WeDo, scratch works through a simple drag and drop interface that can be used to create games and even to program the Lego WeDo robots.
Lil Bits – These are open source electronic components that snap together with magnets. Our makers as young as 7 years of age have been able to easily use them and to engineer components that, for example, use circuitry to power and dim LEDs with touch sensors.
Mousetrap Racers – Mousetrap racers are powered by the spring action of a mousetrap and are not dangerous to race once the mousetrap is disassembled. We raced mousetrap racers against propeller racers and the mousetrap racers won! The physics of mousetrap racing are explained in detail by Doc Fizzix and kits and supplies can be purchased online Homemade mousetrap racer designs can be found at Scienceguy.org.
Papertronics Lunar Modules – Lunar Modules are, basically, origami on steroids. Maker Kids fold paper cutouts into three-dimensional objects and add lights, batteries and resistors to create light sculptures with on off switches that can double as a night light. The kits come with all the parts needed and punchout models that are pre-printed or plain makers to create their own designs. Once the basic concept is understood, it can be easily and inexpensively replicated with LEDs, resistors, coin batteries (that can be purchased in bulk online for as little as 10 cents each) and card stock.
Snap Circuits – immerse makers into building electronic inventions without soldering. Parts snap together on a plastic circuit board to make working radios (a Maker Kid favorite), motion detectors, radio controlled cars and hundreds more mechanisms. The kits come with manuals that have illustrated step by step instructions that make assembly a snap for young and old alike. Maker Kids highly recommend the kits for summer fun and learning.
Solar Cars – These cars are fun to build and zip around playgrounds in the summer time. Our maker kids liked blocking the cars energy source (the sun rays) to stop them in their tracks. The kits, themselves, are a bit pricey but we’ve found that the solar panels are of better quality than those we’ve purchased from Radio Shack. We’ve paired the making activity with the use of a light meter to measure the strength of the sun’s rays needed for optimal car performance. We’ve also had challenges to determine the energy requirements to move a car up an inclined ramp.