Tag Archives: DIY

Meet the Maker: Chicago Children’s Museum

Want to make a cardboard grabbing claw that reaches the ceiling? Check out Chicago Children’s Museum “Cardboard Mechanisms” at the Faire!


The Chicago Children’s Museum strives to “improve children’s lives to create a community where play and learning connect.” For over the past two years, the Tinkering Lab at the museum led by a team of educators, tinkerers, and artists provides families with a space to work in with real tools like power tools, variety of materials (wood, metal and fabrics), and much more. There’s even space for toddlers to have their own tinkering experience. Kim Koin, Director of Art and Tinkering Lab Studios, explains, “We want to nurture creative scientific minds, think in new ways, have children ask their own questions and test and retest their ideas.” One popular project by kids is making a car that rolls; the Lab is developing ways to cultivate that interest.

The museum believes that kids should be encouraged to build things. Kim Koin says, “For us, tinkering is a verb. We think that when we tinker, we are developing mindsets and habits of being an innovator and problem solver. There needs to be more creative problem solvers in the world.”

For the Mini Maker Faire, they will run “Cardboard Mechanisms.” With just cardboard slats, joints, and imagination, kids and adults will be able to make a series of levers that can be made into a variety of things including a giant claw or even a monster. The Museum will also have super large pieces of cardboard and they are excited to see what giant mechanisms people create together. They want people to learn by doing in this project and realize that failure is ok. If it’s not working, try again in a different way.

We can’t wait to have them at the Faire!

Meet the Maker: The Interactive Art Booth

Ever want to touch artwork? Have you ever wanted to shout at it? Then check out Kat Granat’s Interactive Art Booth!

The Interactive Art Booth

Ms. Granat’s art focuses on breaking down inapproachability of the art world and bringing together art and technology. Kat Granat creates wonderfully interactive pieces that breakdown the boundaries between art and technology and between artist and audience. People can see that art and technology can be united in really meaningful ways while at the same time, she wants to show that art can be appreciated by anyone. Kat Granat hopes her work will inspire people to create and to converse. She said, “Everyone should have the joy of making a thing. It doesn’t have to be the Mona Lisa or a $30,000 robot…We need art, we need technology. We need both of those things.”

For the Faire, she’s going to show off several of her pieces and have an activity for people. She’s going to let people have a self-guided tour of her art pieces including a piece from Passive/Aggressive show and a robot from a recent show “Friendly Neighborhood Robot Factory.” In addition to showing off her incredible works, she’ll have an activity for all ages. Kat Granat will show people how to make interactive paper sculptures with LEDs in them. That sounds super exciting!

We are looking forward to seeing Kat Granat’s Interactive Art Booth at the Faire!

Meet Chicago’s Hackerspace All-Stars: PS:One, SSH:C, W88

This year, Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire is excited to present the three largest hackerspaces in the Chicago area! We sat down with them to learn more.

Workshop 88Workshop 88Workshop 88 is a hackerspace and makerspace located in Glen Ellyn that provides a space for people to come together as a community and work on amazing projects. They offer a variety of tools for its members to use such as 3D printers, a CNC machine, a lathe, and more. They are even thinking of opening an amateur radio station in the space. But Workshop 88 is more than just the tools at its disposal. Jim Williams, a member of Workshop 88, says that it’s all about the community of people with similar interests who have a variety of knowledge coming together to share. It’s the people who are willing to help each other out, learn, and create delightful things.

One big yearly project is badge building. For the past 3 years, Workshop 88 makes Arduino-based LED badges that make the conference space into a game. Throughout the conference space, there are beacons that can transmit to the badge that lights up the LED and generates points. It’s a great way to get folks to explore the entire conference. Workshop 88 works together to design, build, and test these badges. In addition to their own projects, Workshop 88 hosts workshops and classes for libraries and classrooms. It provides them an opportunity to share their knowledge with people to get them excited about making. The goal is to have kids make things that get them interested in electronics and technology.

For Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, they are going to demonstrate some of their members’ current projects. A hacked Roomba vacuum cleaner. A radio receiver built from scratch. An RGB LED wall display that is controlled by a joystick—uniting art and technology will hopefully foster conversation and ideas!

Southside Hackerspace: ChicagoSSHC photoSouthside Hackerspace: Chicago (SSH:C) is a hackerspace located in Pilsen committed to educational outreach, and strives to become a community resource for people to learn and exchange ideas. This hackerspace just turned three–Happy Birthday! They’ve hosted a variety of classes and workshops from basic soldering to Raspberry Pi within their space and out. Recently, participants got to check out an electron scanning microscope at the event as well. SSH:C attended events all around Chicago including libraries, schools, and other maker spaces to establish relationships. They plan on expanding their soldering tutorial into additional classes to teach programming. They also have been communicating with teachers all around Chicago and its suburbs about starting their own spaces for their students.

In addition to outreach, SSH:C has been hosting a variety of educational and social events for its membership. In the past year, SSH:C has partnered with Pumping Station 1 on a Cryptography event on a monthly basis. It’s intended for people who are interested in cryptography and privacy online. The class moves back and forth between the two spaces, further encouraging collaboration between members of both hackerspaces. SSH:C and PS1 also held a nine week Business Planning workshop “Creative Entrepreneurship” led by Lisa Sonora Beam that focused on how to take an idea into a marketable idea.

In addition to the educational programming, SSH:C has introduced monthly movie and gaming nights. In January, they held a fantastic holiday party that allowed members and friends to showcase their work including laser-cut origami, a tri-copter and much more. But SSHC also have 3D printers, a new vinyl cutter, and many more tools to help people build amazing things!

For CNS Maker Faire, their members will showcase their work including a kinetic sculpture. They plant to have a hands-on activity for the kids and parents alike. SSH:C is growing and want to engage with people and other organizations about their work. Want to know more? Attend a weekly meeting Wednesday nights at 7:30.

Pumping Station: One

PS1 Photo Credit Everett Wilson

Pumping Station:One (PS:1) located in the Northside of Chicago brings together people with a variety of skills to develop a thriving and sharing community. Chicago’s first hackerspace, PS:1 has been around for six years. The space has a variety of tools including bandsaws, a CNC router, and many more.

However, it’s more than just a place to work on your projects. Members hold a variety of classes based on their interests. It’s a fairly independent process; someone decides there is a need so they make a class. There are classes centered around robots, beer making, wine tasting, leather working, and coding. As noted before, they also have been collaborating with SSH on the Cryptography class each month.

At the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, they are going to teach people how to make a Noise-o-Tron. They debuted this last year at the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire. The Noise-o-Tron is an optical theremin that does not require soldering. People build it by pushing leads through the board and twisting them. It only takes a few minutes to put it together. They have also created a “Color-O-Tron” version where people can make a game that simulates the old Simon game. These projects are both a fun way to talk about electronics while people can make something simple and fun. We can’t wait to make music with our optical Theremins!

PS1 has an open house on Tuesday nights at 8pm.

Meet the Maker: The Laboratory

Will you survive the Zombie apocalypse? Want to master potions like Harry Potter? Then check out The Laboratory at CNS Maker Faire!The laboratoryThe Laboratory just opened its doors in Bucktown this past March, and is run by experienced teachers Ed and Amy Kang. The mission of The Laboratory is to revolutionize how science is taught. Too often science classes focus on content through rote memorization instead of exploring how science encompasses everything. Amy and Ed want to show kids that science learning can be fun and a way for kids to express themselves. They are big proponents of STEAM: Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math.

At The Laboratory, Amy and Ed offer a variety of classes aimed at grades K-6 with future plans for expansion. Classes combine science and art and fun! Kids learn how to make robots, potions, catapults, bath balls, and so much more. “Science with a context” means kids see how science is part of their lives already through TV shows, movies, and more, they get excited about it. The Laboratory space is also quite versatile. Embracing the DIY spirit, they built much of the furniture in the space. Ed explained that this wasn’t something he had a lot of experience in before. He said, “I learned to use a table saw, drill to build…it’s a testament to the fact that anyone can build spaces. If I can do it, so can you!”

Ed and Amy are super excited about CNS Maker Faire. In true DIY spirit, they are still planning their activities. One of their students may come out and show off their new skills. Maybe they’ll facilitate a project for other students. They plan on having an activity that embodies their teaching philosophy: science with a story. Come check out The Laboratory at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire!

Meet the Maker: YOUmedia

Make a circuit with dough! Make music with circuits and magnets! Join YOUmedia at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire and learn how!


YOUmedia, a program run through the Chicago Public Library since 2009, has now expanded to 11 libraries throughout the city. YOUmedia provides spaces for teens and tweens to drop by and learn in an out-of-school context, connecting them with technology and resources to further their personal and even professional interests. Recently YOUmedia and Chicago Public Library Teen Services started First Saturdays Careers in Focus to allow teenagers, ages 14-18, to learn about careers in a variety of fields from engineering to music. This summer, they are planning to kick off a new teen summer challenge that will involve discovery and creation. Stay tuned for more information!

For Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, YOUmedia has two amazing activities planned. Julie Koslowsky, YOUmedia Outreach Coordinator, wants people to try something new and get excited about circuits and technology. These projects show that electronics does not have to be an expensive or even high tech activity. (1) “Littlebits,” a project for all ages, are simple circuits that connect via magnets, a power source, and other parts. You can make music, attach a fan, and more! (2) “Squishy Circuits” are conductive play-dough! With a few simple ingredients­—water, flour, salt and lemon juice—in the right order, the dough can become conductive or insulated. Plug in a power source and put strategic LED lights to create fantastic pieces!

We can’t wait to see YOUmedia at CNS Maker Faire!

Meet the Maker: Trossen Robotics

hros1chassiBigDid you ever want to walk a robot on a leash? Or learn how to make a robotic arm to do your bidding? Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire is excited to welcome back Trossen Robotics, a company committed to helping people learn about robotics and electronics, for a third year!

Trossen Robotics started in the late 2000s selling robot parts, but they’ve grown into designing and even manufacturing their own open source robotic kits, such as crawlers and humanoids. Grounded in a belief that community is critical–people can always use help when building things, experimenting, and sharing their experiences–Trossen wants to foster a community of builders through forums, blogs, and other support networks. And they want people to realize that anyone can learn how to make robots!

You do not have to be an engineer or have millions of dollars to build a robot. The field of robotics has something for everyone–from those interested in electronics and engineering to non-STEM fields like aesthetics and design–and Trossen is committed to helping everyone from the casual hobbyist to the university student working on a robot for their thesis.DFmkRFIAt this year’s Faire, Trossen will be showing off some of their amazing robots. People will have the opportunity to play with a variety of different robots, and even have fun walking a crawler robot on a leash. They will also be displaying their “voodoo robot,” with a large robotic arm and a smaller one that works like a controller, as well as some autonomous robots that use sensors to navigate the world.

Kyle Granat at Trossen Robotics told us that they are really excited about Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire this year and explained that people often leave the Faire in awe: not the kind of awe you would see at a car show or technology show, but the feeling of awe upon realizing that they can do some of the amazing things that see for  themselves. We look forward to seeing them there!

Open Call for Makers 2015!


WE’RE BACK! (Admit it, you missed us)

Schurz High School , the Urban School Foundation, and local maker Christina Pei return with the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, celebrating teaching and learning for all ages of makers, new and old!  For those of you who are new to Maker Faire, it is the largest celebration of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) in the world.  Maker Faire is a venue for inventors, technophiles, artists, crafters, mad scientists, hackers, musicians, and anyone who makes cool things and want to show others how it’s done.  If this describes you:


Reserve your maker table at Schurz High School on Saturday, May 2, 2015.  We will be accepting applications until April 6.  There is no cost to makers to present and it’s FREE for your friends to attend!  Makers will also be featured on our website and advertisements.

Questions? Contact us at ChicagoNorthsideMF@gmail.com

A (Belated) Summary of Inventables’ Launch of “Carvey”

October 20, 2014

We went to a launch party: Chicago’s hardware store for designers, Inventables, presented their cool new 3D tabletop carving machine, aptly named “Carvey.”  The next day, they launched their Kickstarter campaign with a funding goal of $50,000, which they reached in about 1 hour. How ’bout them apples, eh?

It was shockingly quiet, waaaay faster than 3D printing, and on Kickstarter for another 30 hours if you want first dibs.


Just open it up.


Clamp down your material of choice–wood, acrylic, soft metals.


…and we got this in minutes!

We hope some of our makers are putting 3D carving to good use by the time the fourth annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire comes around in May!

Even More Maker Faires! Hooray!


Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire producer Christina Pei teaches lockpicking with TOOOL

The Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire team visited the incredible Henry Ford Museum this weekend, site of the 5th annual Maker Faire Detroit.  We played with, among other things, old school tractor engines, Power Wheels, hacked bikes, soldering, lockpicking, 3D printing, oh my!  Over 400 makers turned out for this featured Faire.  Here’s a little taste of what we saw:

A simple game of Flaming Skeeball

Mouse Trap

Life Size Mouse Trap always draws the crowds!

Old Tyme Bikes

Celebrations of past tech: manually-powered motors, retro bikes, and this couple dressed for the olden tymes.


We milled a bottle opener with this Shapeoko 2 from Inventables.

The Manulith

We visited our friends from the Manulith, the 3D printing experts.

If you missed Maker Faire Detroit, have no fear!  It will return in July 2015.

And…you can join us locally this Saturday, August 2nd, for Chicago Southside Mini Maker Faire!  Located at the Ford City Mall, it is the second Mini Maker Faire in Chicago:

Saturday, August 2nd
9:00 am – 5:00 pm
Ford City Mall
7601 South Cicero Ave
Chicago, IL 60652

Register HERE for free tickets!

Celebrate the Day of Making

The White House is hosting its own Maker Faire today!  Follow the action at http://www.whitehouse.gov/maker-faire.  Or join in the fun from home by posting a picture of your own creation today, using #NationOfMakers.

day-of-making-badgeWe signed the “Building Maker Communities” Pledge on Makezine.com to show our support for the maker movement, and you can, too!  When you sign the pledge, you’ll also receive a free e-copy of the book, “Zero to Maker,” by David Lang.

The CNS Maker Team is headed to South Side Hackerspace this evening to start building the dice kit provided to us by Chicago Electronic Distributors. There will likely be making of other things, too–chainmaille from Blue Buddha Boutique, lockpicking from TOOOL, and possibly some of the gadgets we picked up from Maker Faire Bay area!  Follow us on Twitter @CNSmakerfaire for updates on our projects.  Or come join us tonight, starting at 7:30!

And just a reminder of the fun we had last month, here are some more pictures of the third annual Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire.  Thanks to ChiBots, the Schurz photography class, and Glowing Mood Flower for sharing!

ChiBots    IMG_9616 IMG_9406    2014MoodFlower