Maker Camp: library takes part in program for tinkering with science, art 2013.07.17

make.davitBy DAVID GREEN

Tinkering, discovering, creating.

It's summer camp time at Morenci's Stair Public Library, but it's a different kind of camp. It can take place wherever you're located, but several of the library VolunTeen helpers are taking part every Monday, Wednesday and Friday at the library. Now that the program is underway, Maker Camp is opening up to anyone in the area 13 years or older.

Maker Camp—organized by Make Magazine—is a six-week on-line camping experience shared by groups across the country. Anyone can participate from home. The difference in Morenci is that Stair Public Library was chosen one of three libraries in Michigan to serve as a "super affiliate." Other than Detroit, the next closest locations are Columbus and Chicago.

Super affiliates not only participate in the activities, they're also beneficiaries of a box of goodies including t-shirts, a Raspberry Pi computer kit (a mini-Linux computer), a soldering iron, a kit for making prints on T-shirts using sunlight, LED lights, and Arduino microcontrollers (good for making robots and other gadgets), and more.

"I think it's such an exciting program because everyone can do it," said Stair Public Library director Colleen Leddy. "They give you a list of materials so you can do it at home as a family or come into the library and watch the Hangout."

The Google+ Hangout provides another essential component of summer camp: meeting new friends. Morenci's Makers can connect with other groups to compare results and discuss projects.

Maker Camp is for anyone interested in do-it-yourself projects, making, creating, crafting, hacking, tinkering and discovering.

There are 30 days with 30 projects, but Morenci's group got a late start and has so far tackled three projects.

Every weekday a new experience is listed on the Make Magazine website ( and at +Make on Google+ to give campers a chance to gather materials. The daily Maker Camp Hangout begins at 2 p.m. That's when an accomplished maker is introduced and the daily project is shown step by step, along with tips and tricks.

A fun part of the Hangout is seeing how other makers tweaked the project to take a slightly different approach or reach a different outcome.

Each Friday, a virtual field trip is planned. Last week the camera went to the headquarters of Oracle Team USA to learn about some of the fastest sailboats in America. The trip this week focuses on the NASA Ames Research Center and a future trip goes to Google to learn about plans to provide internet access to remote areas via balloons. During DYI Music Week, musicians Imogen Heap and Zöe Keating will be visited.

"It fits in perfectly with our Summer Reading Program STEAM theme," Leddy said, referring to science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics. "You're doing science with simple materials that anyone can do. A cool thing is that there are different levels."

This includes a weekend project that's more involved, something that can be done at home with assistance. Projects include a pedal powered phone charger, an LED colored organ and a repeat-after-me memory game.

The camp is partly sponsored by Radio Shack where all materials are available.

If working from home, Leddy suggests starting with the first week projects and moving onward from there. Go to the website and look for the Schedule tab at the top.

"Maker Camp hopes to foster the DIY (do-it-yourself) spirit in young people," said Dale Dougherty, founder and publisher of MAKE magazine and Maker Faire. "We want each camper to see how much there is that you can do and how much there is to explore all around you. What each of us can do is pretty amazing, yet what we can do together is even more amazing."

It's time to make something.

• Any adults interested in getting involved? If you think you have some skills to help teens with projects, visit the website listed above, then call Colleen Leddy at the library (458-6510).

Projects include:

• Wind Triggered Lantern

• Diddley Bow Guitar

• Easy Balloon Blimp (with helium)

• Vibrobot

• Banana Piano

• Watermelon Boat

• Thumb Piano

• Light-Up Hoodie

• Silk screening

• Phenakistoscope

• Rocket Propelled Car

• Digital Flipbook