The White House and the University of the District of Columbia are two of the sites helping spotlight the National Week of Making, June 17-23, 2016.
“America has always been a nation of tinkerers, inventors, and entrepreneurs,” a White House news release recently stated.
“Empowering students and adults to create, innovate, tinker, and make their ideas and solutions into reality is at the heart of the Maker Movement.”
Step Away from that SmartPhone and Make Something!
Do you worry that your children or grandchildren now spend too much time messing with cellphones and game players and no time learning basic life skills such as how to work with tools to create or repair things?
Do you worry that you have become a slave to time-wasting digital distractions and have lost touch with how to make stuff, repair things or create something new from available materials?
It may be time to be come a maker, too, and an advocate for others who need to expand their horizons beyond the devices clutched tightly in their hands.
Some How-to-Make-Something Book Selections
In recognition of National Week of Making and the third annual White House Maker Faire, here are some books from Maker Media that can help you and others get into (or back into) the art, science and fun of making things and learning useful skills.
A Guide to Engaging Young People in Maker Activities
Danielle Martin and Alisha Panjwani
Making is “the process of creating projects based on your ideas and interest,” the authors emphasize. “This Start Making! guide offers a series of creative do-it-yourself (DIY) projects that introduce young people to the basics of circuitry, coding, crafting, and engineering.”
Start Making! describes “a series of activity sessions that you can adapt to your situation” as an organizer and/or leader of activities for children and teens. “You can offer your own version of Start Making! activities in your home, at the library, at an after-school club, at the local community center, or anywhere else young people can gather to work on projects together.”
Kids Learn by Making Stuff, 2nd Edition
Giving kids the time, opportunity and motivation to tinker with things (and make things from other things) can have big educational payoffs, the author, a science teacher, contends.
To the question “Are kids learning anything while they are having fun?”, he gives an enthusiastic and lengthy reply: “[H]eck yes they’re learning something, and it may be the most valuable thing they’ve learned all week, and it may raise all sorts of questions in their minds that inspire them to learn more about what they’re tinkering with, and it may start them on a path to a satisfying career, not to mention good fun on their own time, and it may put them in the driver’s seat of their own education by realizing their competence and ability to learn through tinkering, and they may begin to demand more of just this sort of learning opportunity.” Whew!
By the way, don’t just hand this book to a kid and say “Go have fun!” It is mainly written for adults who are willing to help children learn the joys of using their hands and minds to make stuff and try simple experiments.
Getting Started with 3D Printing
A Hands-on Guide to the Hardware, Software, and Services Behind the New
Liza Wallach Kloski, Nick Kloski, and HoneyPoint3D™
In a consumer-grade 3D printer, “thin strand of melted plastic is laid down, layer by layer, on a flat surface where it cools and hardens into an object,” the authors explain.
This book will not turn you into a manufacturing expert, but it does introduce major aspects of 3D printing and shows how to get started with computer-aided design (CAD) and 3D printing. It also introduces new makers to the two main types of consumer 3D printers: FDM, which use filament for fused deposition modeling, and SLA, which use resin for stereolithography.
Likewise, you learn the benefits of outsourcing your printing to firms with bigger, more expensive machines than a typical home user can afford. Meanwhile, consumer-focused 3D printing service bureaus offer another, less expensive choice. And you can have printing done by a local “hub” source, which may be one person offering to run your project on his or her 3D printer. In any case, you focus on creating a good design and uploading your files, and then your creation gets printed and shipped to you—or you go pick it up.
The book also covers topics such as what supplies you will need, how to get and use free 3D modeling software, how to correct mistakes in your models and prints, and how to lay out a 3D printing workspace.
Getting Started with Processing.py
Making Interactive Graphics with Python’s Processing Mode
Allison Parrish, Ben Fry, Casey Reas
“Processing.py,” the authors explain, “is an interactive programming and graphics framework for the Python programming language.” This book shows how to create drawings, animations, and interactive images, even if you have never used Python or had any other programming experience.
Processing.py helps make coding more accessible to artists, educators, designers, and beginners. And the book can be used by children, teens, and adults.
Indeed, Getting Started with Processing.py is a good way to introduce a young person to computer programming, because the simple programs that are entered cause images to be created and objects to be moved. And the parameters of the images and objects often can be changed to create new effects.
Encyclopedia of Electronic Components
Charles Platt and Fredrik Jansson
This final volume in the Encyclopedia of Electronics Components series focuses on a wide range of sensor devices that detect or respond to such factors as light, sound, heat, location, presence, proximity, orientation, oscillation, force, load, human input, gas and liquid properties, and electricity. The text describes what the sensors do, how they work, and how they can be used.
The authors note that many sensor devices previously were very expensive but “are now as cheap as basic semiconductor components such as a voltage regulator or a logic chip, and they are easy to use in conjunction with microcomputers.”
— Si Dunn