Laser Cut Gingerbread Notre Dame Cathedral

main

Inspiration

Growing up every year my family had a tradition of gingerbread house making. We always tried to out-do the previous year’s effort. This year my family decided we would try to achieve my lifelong dream of making the Notre Dame de Paris cathedral out of gingerbread, but with a twist: we’d use the laser cutter at Sector67, our beloved local hackerspace, to cut out the pieces. We’d done simple gingerbread structures before on the laser cutter so we knew it was feasible, but we weren’t sure if we could pull off a much more complex structure.

Design

We were lucky enough to be able to start with a Canon papercraft model. That gave us a starting point for
dimensions, but the papercraft designs are meant to be made out of paper which can bend around corners and has basically no thickness. As a result we had to significantly redesign a model, removing lots of detail, segmenting curved parts and generally accounting for a material thickness, in our case 3/16”. It took about 20 hours using Inkscape to make a workable design, and the final SVG file is available at:

http://www.thingiverse.com/thing:1174128

That SVG file was made using Inkscape and so assumes 1″ = 90px. You may need to scale appropriately if you use different tools.

Testing

After completing the design we cut and assembled a complete prototype from 5mm luan plywood. This let frontus not only confirm fit (there were problems that needed to be fixed!) but also get a feel for how the actual structure would go together.

We also had to test many iterations of stained glass windows. Our vision was to melt colored sugar for the windows, but we went through about six iterations or different processes before we settled on something that really worked well.

Even baking the gingerbread required testing, to find the right thickness and to make sure the recipe worked well.

Mixing, rolling and baking

I’ve included the recipe we used below along with some instructions. We needed 10 sheets of 12″x18″ gingerbread, and each sheet took about half an hour, much of which was rolling it down to the desired thickness.

Cutting

Every laser cutter is different and if you are interested to try this you’ll have to figure out your own settings. I had to cut the gingerbread a bit slower than a similar thickness of plywood.

Stained glass windows

As mentioned above, we melted sugar to make the stained glass windows. We tried several approaches:

Brushing the sugar into the window openings and then baking the whole thing was not as consistent as we would have liked and resulted in the cut pieces of gingerbread shrinking and warping.
rosewindowUsing a cooktop/griddle with the sugar brushed in caused similar problems.
We made sheets of “stained glass”, and thought about frosting them to the backs of the windows, but with the fit of some of the pieces this was not feasible.
Aluminum foil, parchment paper and Silpat (silicone) mats all worked well enough to stop the sugar from sticking. In the end the process we settled on was to sprinkle sugar onto a silpat mat in the pattern needed to fill the windows. We pre-mixed a bowl of different sugar colors to provide a rainbow effect. We then baked the sugar on the Silpat at 350F for about 15 minutes, watching for when the sugar is just fully melted but not caramelizing. Catching it at just the right time left the colors well separated. We then pulled the Silpat mat with the melted sugar out of the oven, lined up the window openings and pressed the gingerbread pieces into the melted sugar. We then left heavy flat pieces of metal on top of the gingerbread pieces until the sugar cooled, as otherwise they would warp.

As you can see in the pictures, this process resulted in an accurate stained glass look that can be nicely lit from behind.

Building

The time lapse video shows the assembly process. It took about 10 hours total as a two adult/two kid process. We used a simple royal frosting recipe that provides lots of holding strength and dries relatively quickly.

Lighting

We used a 16′ string of RGB LED lights to light the inside of the whole structure. The lights need to be strung while the structure is being built, and the design includes holes for routing the lights.

Challenges

Gingerbread can be a tough medium to work with. It can crack, warp and shrink. Even with our post-bake rolling process pieces were often not exactly 3/16″ thick and so for certain parts we needed to sand or grind to get a good fit. We ended up using an xacto knife, dremel cut-off wheel, hack saw and bench grinder at various times to make the model fit well.

This is an achievable family project but it was fairly time consuming.  In the end we were all very happy with how it turned out!

More information including a complete recipe for the gingerbread sheets can be found at:

https://hackaday.io/project/8660-laser-cut-gingerbread-notre-dame-cathedral

Posted in Uncategorized

November Meeting Highlights

About 50 members of the community attended our November meeting – what a great turnout! As usual, the room was filled with a mix of familiar faces and new friends!

Recognition from Madison Science Museum

Terry Sivesind, one of the founders of the newly opened Madison Science Museum and esteemed member of the Madison entrepreneurial community, stopped by the meeting to thank the Sector67IMG_8926 community for its contributions. Terry provided a brief overview of the highlights of Museum’s exhibit halls and asked each Sector67 contributor to speak briefly about their role in the process.  The Wisconsin State Journal recently published a great article, “New Museum Shines a Light on Science” which provides a great overview of this much needed addition to downtown Madison. Check out MSM soon and watch it grow!  The Museum is seeking volunteers for a variety of tasks, so if you or someone you know is looking for an opportunity, please contact Madison Science Museum.

 

Winged Victory

Shira shared her experience with 3-D print replication of a historic sculpture.  The original sculpture, entitled “the Winged Victory of Samothrace” is a 2nd-century BC marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Nike (aka Victory). Shira found the pattern for her replica on Thingiverse, an online collaborative community for all things 3-D. IMG_8912  IMG_8938

The sculpture, 10 pieces in all, was printed over the course of several days and countless hours. The hollow sculpture was then assembled and its base was filled with silicone to keep it from tipping.  After assembly, Shira chose to apply a copper overlay and she’ll eventually apply a patina finish.  In looking at Shira’s 3-D model, it seems like “Winged Victory” is a perfect description of her final piece.

After the meeting, Shira had this to say about Cosmo Wenman (the designer of the file) and the concept of digitizing art.

“Cosmo Wenman scanned in the plaster cast of the original as part of his fascinating project Through A Scanner, Skulpturhalle. Not only are his scans the highest quality scanned artworks on Thingiverse at the moment, the whole concept behind digitizing art is also about making ownership and viewing of art more accessible to the public. Museums are dragging their feet on this and showing extraordinary closed-mindedness, and that makes Skulpturhalle and Cosmo’s project quite unique for this moment in time.”

For the Birds

In sticking with our unplanned “Wings” theme, Eric showed off his newly completed project, a lightweight, portable blind which he stitched together in the Sewing Studio at Sector67. EriIMG_8918c, whose day job is a computer programmer, enjoys photographing birds.  In the past, Eric used a stationary blind structure to capture images of his subjects. Obviously, this presented significant limitations when it comes to following birds.  In talking with a fellow community member, it became apparent that building a portable (perhaps wearable) blind could provide a great solution to his problem. Now if only he knew how to sew!  Fortunately, Sector67 has plenty of problem-solving resources – from heavy-duty sewing machines to in-person sewing expertise, coaching, and advice (a.k.a. Jim).  Eric shared a great story surrounding the photo of this Northern Harrier.   For a look at some of Eric’s photography, check out his website.
IMG_8922    IMG_8925

Boba Fett Helmet Project

Josh is a huge Star Wars fan, and ever since he was little he’s dreamed of having a Boba Fett helmet of his own. Inspired by a community member’s Ironman costume project, Josh decided it would be cool to realize his dream and replicate a Boba Fett helmet for Halloween.  Josh found file on Thingiverse and printed a 34-piece prototype that presented some fit challenges and was quite painful to wear.  In exploring other options, Josh found a papercraft model online and used Netfabb to cut the model into a 3-D printable pattern for his helmet. After about 120 hours of total 3-D printing time (for both the prototype and final product), Josh completed his helmet in time to wear it for about 10 minutes at a Halloween party!  Josh plans to continue working on his helmet to make it fit better, allow it to be more comfortable, and to add the essential range finder.  Josh will bring his finished helmet to a future meeting.

Boba-Fett-Helmet-Papercraft  IMG_8930   Boba-Fett-Helmet

Helicopters of all Shapes & Sizes

Drones are certainly making the news lately! Chris showed a variety of helicopters/drones which had a variety of uses.  

  • Mini “play-at-home” versions (~$30) are an inexpensive way to enter this market
  • Midsize drones/copters, equipped with GPS and GoPro cameras are gaining popularity as their technology and durability increase and price decreases
  • Powerful multi-propped versions are used for heavy-lift challenges such as this

IMG_8932  IMG_8937   IMG_8935

Upcoming Classes

If you’d like to learn something new, get inspiration for an upcoming project, or brush up your skills, there are some new classes posted in the website – check them out!   New classes are added regularly, so keep checking in!

Posted in Meetings, Uncategorized

Build Madison Returns to Sector67 – November 21-22

Build Madison

Build Madison is back!

The 24-hour community “create-a-thon” returns to Sector67 on November 21 at 11am. Project presentations begin at 11am on Sunday, November 22.

We’re excited to announce the 6th annual Build Madison event coordinated by Capital Entrepreneurs and hosted at Sector67.  Build Madison is a 24 hour hackathon that gives you the opportunity to set aside some time over the weekend to finally get to that project you’ve been thinking about for a long time!
The weekend starts out on Saturday, November 21st, at 11am, when we’ll host short (noon on Sunday swings around we’ll have short project presentations and/or sharing of lessons learned (aka: why my project didn’t quite get done in time!).
That’s as simple as it is – take the 24 hour period as seriously or as inquisitively as you’d like. In the past, projects have varied from very sophisticated to very basic, software to hardware, art to engineering – so don’t feel like your concept isn’t going to fit in – it will.
 
For more information, please register at the Build Madison website: http://buildmadison.org/
Who: Anyone interested
What: 24 hr hackathon
Where: Sector67 – 2100 Winnebago St, Madison, WI – short ride on your bicycle, hop on the bus, or take advantage of parking in front of the building for your car
When: November 21st at 11AM through the 22nd, with project presentations starting at 11AM on the 22nd
Why: A great excuse to focus on a project for a weekend and meet with other interesting folks too
This is a FREE event. Check out the prior project summaries at: http://buildmadison.org
We hope to see you on the 21st!
Posted in News, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , ,

Huge Thanks, Tormach!

Tormach, located in Waunakee, Wisconsin is a leader in the PCNC (Personal CNC) industry.  Their high quality products are a maker’s dream.  Many at Sector67 are already familiar with Tormach and thankful for their generous donations of tools and equipment over the years.

tormach-logo-478x180This Fall, as Sector67 reached its 5-year anniversary, Tormach presented Sector67 with an impressive donation – a PCNC 1100 Machine.  Wow, what an anniversary gift!  This machine will enable the Sector67 community to tackle a variety of mediums from wood to metal, plastics to pumpkins, and everything in between.  In thanks for the awesome gift, Sector67 will in turn be documenting twenty projects created on this piece of equipment; allowing other Tormach users to quickly learn how to use this machine.

Tormach recently stopped by Sector 67 to take a tour and check on the new addition to our community.  The Tormach group created a great video of their visit – check it out! If you’ve always wanted to learn about CNC, learn local!  Tormach offers a 3-day CNC Fundamentals hands-on workshop in which attendees will gain experience in CNC programming, machine control, and machining.

Tormach, thank you so much for your generosity, we can’t wait to share our projects with your community!

Tormach thank you collage

Posted in Thank You!, Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , ,

Sector67 “Robotics and Makers Playground” exhibit at Madison Science Museum

There’s a new museum in town and Sector67 is proud to be an exhibitor.

Madison Science Museum opened their doors to the public on October 22.

The Robotics and Makers Playground, built and sponsored by Sector67, is a room filled with activity and inspiration. The room offers visitors many hands-on opportunities to explore robotics, engineering, generating energy, and electronics.

S672

“this has been a really popular room.  Once kids go in, they never come out”              

 -overheard

A few of the exhibit features are:

  • The Periodic Table of Motion –  Put simple machines, gears, drives, and levers into motion. This display, which currently features 16 moving elements, will expand as Sector67 makers design and build them.  
  • Pedal for Power – Explore energy generation by using your own pedal-power to light up a variety of lightbulbs. How many lights can you illuminate? Do some take more power to light up than others?
  • Experiment with Circuits – A table filled with Snap Circuits® makes learning and understanding electronics fun, safe, and easy!
  • Robotics – Drive a robot around a map of Madison. An overhead vision system allows a computer to track the robot as you drive it. Can you drive the robot up and down the isthmus without falling into either lake?

Kudos to the Sector67 community members Bob, Sean, Shira, Jim, Chris, Kate, Nate and Scott who put in countless hours to bring this exhibit to life.  As you know, we couldn’t have made this happen without your collaboration and contributions!

Here’s a sneak peak at some of the Sector67 exhibit, but you’ll want to go see it for yourself.

  MSM2

Of course, there are many other things to see at the Madison Science Museum so check it out soon – and often.  The museum will be adding new displays regularly.  The Museum has a Facebook page too – check them out!

Madison Science Museum is located at 211 N. Carroll St., on the 6th floor of the Madison College building in downtown Madison.

 

Posted in Projects Tagged with: , , , , ,

Sector67 October Monthly Meeting Recap

Perfect weather and interesting presentations made the October meeting a great success!

You Built a What?!

The evening kicked off with an introduction to “Joliet” (Jim’s Overbuilt LED Interactive Entertainment Table).  The table’s primary function is as a digitally enhanced version of the “adult beverage game.”  Our first presenter built the table in less than two weeks, just in time for the Maker Faire – Milwaukee held in late September.

Joliet  Joliet - a look

Top features of the table include:

  • 3584 LED lights including a scrolling message board
  • Automatic scoring via an embedded IR sensor in each scoring pod
  • Wheels for portability
  • Ball dryer on each side
  • Internal AC, onboard battery, and external DC power sources
  • Micro SD card for custom animations

 

The Stronginator

The “Stronginator” was the next creation on display.  This device is the builder’s take on the classic carnival game.  A player hits the center foam pad and a row of lights displays the measured strength; or does it?  Is the game rigged?

Stronginator - How strong are you?   Hulk power

 

Solving a Lighting Problem

When Kate and Jeremy moved into their new home, they immediately recognized the need for more lighting in their main living space.  The lighting needed to be sizable, functional, and flexible.  Kate had an idea for a tree-branch “chandelier” of sorts and found a 15-foot long x 8-foot wide cottonwood branch about a mile from their home.  The couple agreed it was “the one” and Jeremy carried it home.

After four months of hard work, the branch lighting fixture is now a fully functioning part of the house.  Kate documented the entire design-to-done process and shared it at the meeting.  The fixture features 11 Phillips “Hue” bulbs that allow Kate and Jeremy to customize the room lighting with an app.

Tree Branch - Concept drawing of lighting plan      Finished product lights up the room!

 

The Periodic Table of Motion – Coming soon to Madison Science Museum

As Madison Science Museum prepares to open to the public on October 22, Bob is building the components for a “Periodic Table of Motion.”  This hands-on, interactive, and microprocessor-powered display will show how simple machines (screw, inclined plane, lever, wheel and axle, pulley, wedge) and their derivatives, operate.  With the opening of this display at the end of the month, Bob is looking for help in soldering, building acrylic cases, laser cutting, and designing.  If you can help, please use the contact us form at the top right and let us know.

components for the Periodic Table of Motion displays        building the units for Madison Science Museum display

Are There Other Uses for the Amazon Dash Button?

Wondering if the Amazon Dash button can be used for more than just reordering laundry detergent?  Josh shared his recent experience in understanding more about the Dash. Through some experimentation and online resources on the topic, he is experimenting with alternate uses for this device.  With built-in features like integrated Wi-Fi, what do you think?

Amazon Dash

Amazon Dash in the news:

 

Building a Better Night Light

Aiming to learn more about both electronics and programming, Francis imagined the possibilities of building a better night light.  He started by looking at current functionality and imagined what features his “dream night light” might have.

What's wrong with night lights?   Features of the reimagined night light

Beginning with concept sketches, then learning more about electronics and programming from Sector67 community support, Francis built a prototype that utilizes an embedded Arduino Nano housed in a case printed on the 3D printer.

showing the prototype  side view of the prototype

Other features Francis included in his device are:

  • motion sensor
  • bright/dim adjustments
  • flicker feature
  • flip-down plug

Francis is already working on refinements for the next version of his even better night light.

 

“Lightning in Lumber” demonstration

What happens when you run electrical current through wood?  Jesse, Josh, and Jeff have recently been experimenting and learning more about this.  The results are varied and often quite beautiful!

electricity as it travels through wood  Lightning in Lumber - many pieces, many patterns

“Sometimes it starts fire, and sometimes we end up with something like this,” stated Jesse.  While the results have varied, the learnings and collaborative efforts of the group have certainly made this project interesting.  With the addition of some safety features, a project such as this could be featured at an event in the future.

 

High-Tech Halloween Carving

Tormach, a CNC manufacturing company from Waunakee (and friend of Sector67) has generously provided us with a new piece of equipment.  This new machine has the skill and power to take on many big projects, but we thought we’d start with a small one… a Jack-O-Lantern.  We’ll have many more projects and news about this generous gift in the near future, but for now here’s a look at one of its many capabilities in carving gourds!

IMG_8828    IMG_8830

 

“Here for Inspiration”

In addition to current members, the October meeting brought many first-time visitors.  During introductions, there was a resounding theme of “I’m here for inspiration.”  There is no doubt that this collaborative space will get your creative juices flowing.

If you’ve been thinking about stopping in to Sector67, there are two ways to do so.  Our monthly meetings are free and open to the public.  The next meeting is on Tuesday, November 3 at 7:00 PM.  In addition, there are Open House/Tour opportunities each Friday from 1-7PM on the hour.  Check our calendar for more details.

Posted in Meetings Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Maker Faire Milwaukee – September 26-27th

Maker Faire Milwaukee
Maker Faire Milwaukee is coming up quick – the event is part of the Wisconsin State Fair, Saturday September 26th (9-6PM) and Sunday September 27th (10-5PM). The best part about MF Milwaukee? It’s free to attend!

We’ll again be hosting a lockpicking table, and demonstrating some projects from our members and the community.

For more information have a look on their website.

Posted in Uncategorized

Tormach Open House Saturday – Waunakee CNC Manufacturing Company

tormachlogo

Madison is lucky to have a well recognized CNC manufacturing company in Waunakee, WI called Tormach.  They’re hosting their second annual open house coming up on August 1st from 10AM until 5PM.  They’ll be featuring many of their products for demonstrations as well as some recognized speakers in a variety of CAD and manufacturing roles including AutoDesk, SprutCAM, CNC conversions, etc.

Learn all things CNC locally!  Register now and check out the schedule.

 

 

 

Posted in Field Trip, Hardware Tagged with: , , ,

Tandem Press laser engraving

Tandem Press is one of only three professional presses affiliated with a university in the United States.  At Tandem, internationally renowned artists create editions of prints and interact with graduate and undergraduate students.

Tandem Press was founded in 1987 and is based at University of Wisconsin-Madison. It is affiliated with the Department of Art in the School of Education, and offers an extraordinary educational experience for collectors and the university community, which is unparalleled at any other university in the United States. Tandem Press is an artistic laboratory where internationally recognized artists undertake creative experimentation. The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s stated mission is threefold: teaching, research, and public service. Tandem Press shares this mission by teaching, undertaking research into new and traditional printmaking techniques, and by conducting outreach programs to help educate the public about art in general, and printmaking in particular.

Tandem Press is currently working with with local artist Jennifer Angus, a professor in the Design Studies department at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. Using a laser engraver here at Sector67 they cut a block that will be used to print a repeated pattern for a large 96″ x 28″ print.

butterfly

The pattern features such intricate detail that hand carving the print would be unrealistically time consuming and extremely difficult to replicate the original image. Using the laser engraver, reproducing the extreme detail is not an issue. Though there were some “learn as you go” moments with early attempts such as the depth of the engraving. Early prints were engraved to deep and became fragile and ultimately broke while printing.

butterfree2

Once the pattern is engraved into the block, paint is then applied to the block and pressed onto the canvas.

image_1image

Ultimately becoming a repeated theme throughout the finished installment

butterflyfinished2 butterflyfinished

 

 www.tandempress.wisc.edu

http://www.jenniferangus.com/

Posted in Businesses at Sector67

Sector67 June Monthly Meeting Recap

In case you missed the June monthly meeting here’s a quick recap – you’ll have to stop by the next meeting to catch more fun presentations like these, they’re always the first Tuesday of the month at 7PM.

Liam started out the evening on a talk about a programming language he created called Zed that allows for more efficient coding and reduced syntax errors:

IMG_8326

And also shared a little of the backend:IMG_8329

Robin and Marty talked about their trip to Maker Faire in San Francisco to sell jewelry through their startup Lumen Jewelry:

IMG_8331

And some other cool stuff that’s at the largest Maker Faire in the world, like really neat stainless steel 3D prints from an SLS printer:IMG_8333

While the economics didn’t quite hit the black, they noted it was well worth it for the brand recognition, experience, and personal connections formed.IMG_8334

Demonstrating the generally small world in which we live in, Robin and Marty’s father turned out to be a founder of a company called Laser Machining Incorporated, which is still operating in Wisconsin as a manufacturer of high power flowing gas CO2 laser tubes for the fabrication industry.  We happened to receive a donation of two systems and he was kind enough to tell us a lot more about the tubes and the general function of a flowing gas laser versus the cheap Chinese sealed tube systems:

IMG_8335

The laser operates in a vacuum with a bleed of “laser mix” gas that allows the high voltage supply to excite photons into resonance in the center of the green (coolant) glass tube pictured here:IMG_8339

Scott talked about our departing social media intern (thanks Nick!) and our seeking someone for the summer to help with posts like this:

IMG_8340

Adrian gave a talk about the design, construction, and installation of a store display for the lululemon store in Hilldale mall.  This is what the store display looked like when he started:

IMG_8342

He ended up creating a pattern of many triangles held on a matrix of canvas (cat for scale at left)
IMG_8344IMG_2246

Using the automotive lift to hold the preliminary array of triangles together to sort out shadowing and lighting to give it the best appearance when hung:IMG_2318IMG_8345

Final product awaits installation (human for scale, at left).  Lettering was dyed with beet juice and cut out on the panel router:IMG_8346IMG_2329

Final product installed, you can view it in person at the lululemon store in Hilldale mall:IMG_8347

Finally, Eric shared his experiences in cutting glass bottles to make an olive decanter and glasses.  He overviewed all of the methods he heard of and some that he tested (string and lighter fluid, tile saw, heat, heat and a cutter, just a scribe, etc. . .) and finally the approach he settled on with a scribing jig and cold water and a very small butane torch.

Here’s the sophisticated cutting rig, essentially a glass cutter mounted to a hinge with some blocks to retain the bottle that’s spun by hand:

IMG_8350

Scribing the bottle is important to get correct in one pass, without any overlap (and the ends of the scribe mark need to line up precisely)

IMG_8353

After scribing the line, and 30 seconds worth of heating with the butane torch – a quick dunk in room temperature water separates the two halves:IMG_8348

A quick video of the process:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=elZlV4gvnFI
Thanks to everyone who presented and showed up to watch!  Hope to see you at the next meeting!

 

Posted in Meetings Tagged with: , , , , ,

Support Sector67 – Attend Science Night with the Madison Mallards Baseball Team!

Join us at the Madison Mallards where we’re hosting a science night on July 9th.

Madison_Mallards

We’ve got a group buy with a few ticket options for the July 9th game and we hope to see you there – see attached flyer if you’d like to post ticket instructions elsewhere – otherwise head over to:

http://mallardsgroups.com/
type in their captcha
then put “Sector67” as the group ticket information and you can pick from:
$15 – ticket and a hat
$23 – ticket and Pepsi tailgate (unlimited soda and food before the game)
$28 – ticket and beer tailgate (unlimited beer and food before the game)

All tickets have a $5 donation to Sector67 and include an evening of fun 😉

In other news, we’ve built a large LED pitch speed display that’s now installed in the outfield that shows the pitch speed on every pitch that replaced a very old system they had (which required someone to keep the battery on the radar gun charged and manually type the speeds into the display on every pitch!).  So you can see it in action on the 9th as well.

Mallards Sign

Picture from Bob, more info on the fabrication on his website.

Hope to see you there and thank you for your support!

Chris

Posted in Field Trip, Food, News

Fractal Camp

534668_401021636593115_384507627_n

Fractal is a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics) enrichment program that uses Participant-led, Inquiry-based Learning techniques for school-aged participants (6-13). Through fun, creative and engaging workshops, Fractal builds self-esteem, teamwork, knowledge base, and confidence in participants’ for their future educational experiences, as well as helping to close the gap between what kids learn at school and how it’s connected to their everyday lives.

Founded by Heather Wentler as a way to help kids and teens build self-confidence and life skills through hands on and challenged based learning projects. Participants are encouraged to manipulate materials to figure out how they work independently and with each other.

Fractal provides a wide array of activities and classes for participants that are not the typical after school programs you may remember. Minecraft workshops are provided for individuals to come and play together and learn new techniques from each other. Certain Saturdays Fractal offers programs in which participants learn how to solder and make Joule Thief kits, other Saturdays involve learning about 3D printing wherein participants will actually print a trinket to take home.

Participants learn about 3d Printing

Participants learn about 3d Printing

During Winter, Spring, and Summer break Half Day camps are offered (Look at the Classes Page for upcoming dates). The camps take place from Monday-Friday in the mornings and offer four different projects for the participants to work on including; 3D modeling/printing, Sewing 101 to learn how to create a sewing pattern and sew it together on a machine and/or by hand.

As well as learning basic computer programming using Scratch software to design interactive stories, videos, games, and animations.

And a Soldering class in which participants make a Drawdio

Fractal has partnerships with Sennett Middle School, Wingra Schools and Madison Country Day School to offer Tech Club after school programming. During the 6 week sessions the kids learn about Scratch and Google Sketchup to use their creativity to create their own 3D models/printing and video games. UW-Madison’s Camp Badger brings students and teachers out for programming during their summer camps where the students do an engineering activity and teachers learn about how to bring these alternative learning techniques and new technologies into their classrooms.

While there is an overall theme or concept for each workshop those themes sometimes evolve into something completely different based on the interest or engagement of the participants. The focus is more on what the participants want to get out of the workshop rather than making sure they’re hitting the learning objectives. Such was the case recently when a class was soldering components together to create a project and the kids were wondering why we used certain components instead of other ones. Instead of just telling them that it’s because it helps the correct amount electrical current run through the board they changed course and brought out testers to see the electrical movement across the boards and how it changed based on the different components we used.

So what can one hope to take away from such an experience? There is so much more than just the expected learning objectives coming out of the programming. A lot of the time the participants are learning a new skill or concept along with many social-emotional skills that are just as important to their learning and development as the concepts. Many participants come away with new friends who they would never meet in an everyday context because they’re different ages or go to different schools. There is also the self esteem boost that you see among the participants. During the camps the kids come on Monday with no experience in many of the projects and a little hesitant to try something they have no experience with. As the week progresses you see them go from fear and stress to accomplishment and pride when they present to their families on Friday’s. They have the opportunity to showcase what they’ve learned and created and be able to show their families how to use the programs and technologies.

Sign up for Summer classes here

For more information about Madison Fractal head to their website www.madisonfractal.com

Posted in Uncategorized Tagged with: , , , , , , ,

Cart

Upcoming Events