Category Archives: Uncategorized

Meet the Maker: Schurz Pre-Engineering Classes


Photo credit: Pre-engineering Program

Control robots in an underwater obstacle course! Design a Rube Goldberg Machine! Build and destroy bridges! The students of Peter Schoedel’s Schurz pre-engineering program have so many wonderful projects to share with you all at the CNS Mini Maker Faire!

Peter Schoedel has been leading the pre-engineering program at Schurz High School for four years. In the four year program, students learn engineering and design skills. The CNS Mini Maker Faire provides them an excellent opportunity to take what they have learned and share it with participants. Peter Schoedel explains, “It is really important for students to be able present  technology ideas in front of people. It’s 21st century skill building. They have to be able to verbally communicate their ideas, and collaborate with fellow students.”  

This year at the faire, students will present five different projects and will teach people new skills. The students from  SeaPerch Underwater ROV club will showcase the ROVs that they built in the pool. This after school club recently went to a US Navy Competition at the Great Lakes Naval Station to compete in obstacle course and other challenges and took 5th, 7th and 9th place out of 32 teams. That’s awesome. Participants in the faire can try their hand at controlling a ROV underwater in the obstacle course. Another group will demonstrate 3D Modeling with Inventor. Students have been learning how to draw using Inventor, a 3D Cad program so they will be showing us how to draw 3D on computers. Then the design can be hooked up to a 3D printer to be built. How cool is that! Folks can check out a 3D printer in action, using their own designs.

One group of sophomores and juniors will be leading “Make and Destroy Bridge Challenge.” In class, they’ve been building bridges out of balsa wood, testing them, and learning how to build strong and better bridges. Now, they want to share those skills with participants. People at the faire will get the chance to build bridges out of popsicle sticks and then test them out and see if they’ll hold heavy objects! Another project is  “Rube Goldberg and the Simple Machines of Life” where folks will have the opportunity to play with various simple machines to build a Rube Goldberg machine. The final project is “Godzilla Games” where folks will have the opportunity to put together a giant 3D puzzle or play with huge Jenga blocks.

Come out to the Faire and check out all five projects to see the amazing things that the pre-engineering students have learned!

Meet the Maker: Adler Planetarium STEM Teen Programs

Want to make a creature who lives on Mars? Want to imagine a life form on Jupiter? Join the Adler Planetarium’s STEM Teen Programs at the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire.


Photo Credit: Adler Planetarium Teen STEM Programs

Nathalie Rayter, Senior Coordinator of the STEM Teen Programs, explains that the mission of Teen Programs at the Adler is “to create a safe space for learning and exploring new skills and content areas under the umbrella of STEM.” They strive to accomplish that goal through a lot of playful exploration. They want students to “engage with science and technology content with confidence.” The STEM Teen Program has several programs including a free afterschool program called “Adler Teen Hangouts” that is held every Wednesday. All Chicago high schoolers are welcome to come, do homework, hang out with friends, or participate in that week’s curated STEAM (STEM + Art) activity. Past activities include building rockets, 3D scanning and printing, music making with NASA space sound archives, and so much more! They also have a wide range of workshops for high schoolers and are working to have more community-based programs that engage student in hacking to address issues they feel strongly about. There is something for every student, regardless of interest and skill level.

For the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, they will be hosting a “Martian Madness” workshop. At the Adler, there are scientists who study planetary sciences and focus on astrobiology. The workshop will ask participants of all ages to think about biology here on earth and apply it to other types of planets. What adaptations would a creature need to live on different planets? What kind of animal would live in a gaseous environment? Or a super cold one? People will have the chance to draw or build puppets out of recycled materials of their imagined “Martians”. Then they’ll have the chance to pantomime their creature’s behavior in their “natural” environment using a green screen. They want participants to have fun and be creative while learning science and math. The Adler Teen STEM Programs cannot wait to meet people in the Schurz High School and community and see what amazing things other makers are doing in the Chicago area. Check out some videos from the project at Intuit: The Center for Intuitive and Outsider Art.

We are so pleased to have the Adler Planetarium be a part of the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire!

Meet the Maker: The Little Bits Workshop

Want to make a tiny room using upcycled items in your house and garden? Join Liita Forsyth from The Little Bits Workshop to learn how to make your very own tiny room!


Photo credit: The Little Bits Workshop

The Little Bits Workshop is a DIY makerspace in River Forest where kids of all ages can learn how to sew, knit, make  jewelry, build with tools and much more. According to Liita Forsyth, the mission of The Little Bits Workshop “is not to mass produce anything, but to teach the masses to discover the thrill of creative productivity.” Forsyth explains that in this high tech world, not enough emphasis has been placed on problem-solving and motor skills. She recalls countless 40-something moms saying, “My mom sewed all the time but she never taught me. Now my daughter wants to learn, but I don’t know how.” Little Bits strives to revive these skills for all ages. Forsyth explains: “There’s such a tremendous feeling of accomplishment when people of any age learn how to make something useful and to do it well.” The space offers a variety of classes from after school workshops, birthday parties and camps on and off premises.

Prepare for The Little Bits Workshop at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire! It will take 1-2 hours to build at the Faire. Liita will be selling kits to help participants build their own miniature rooms from upcycled materials, and you can come prepared with materials of your own. “The Little Bits Cottage is a launching point for imagination,” she says. “Half the fun of making a Little Bits Cottage is discovering objects in your recycle bin, junk drawer or jewelry box that could actually become a burner on a stove or a dining room chair. It’s designed to be a skill-builder for imagineers of all ages through the steps of measuring, designing, considering proportion, using sharp tools and learning how to sew.”

The Little Bits Workshop will be running two workshop sessions: 10:30 to 12:30 and 1:30 to 3:30.

We can’t wait to have them at Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire!


Meet the Maker: Schurz Food Lab


Photo credit: Schurz Food Lab

Two words: Space Tomatoes. That’s one of many projects that the Schurz Food Lab will be showcasing at the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire. The program is led by the multi-talented Jaime Guerrero, Schurz food science lab founder and administrator, who wants to change minds and hearts about urban agriculture. Guerrero explains that the mission of the lab is to develop and harvest the next generation farmer. He wants to teach the farmer of the future about traditional agriculture, sustainability, and the science behind it all. The program aspires to teach students to go forward with these new concepts and develop a whole new way of farming.

The Schurz Food Lab situated in a formerly unused classroom at Schurz is in its first year. Right now, students and community volunteers have been learning about hydroponics and aquaculture. Hydroponics is the process of growing plants in water, sand or other medium instead of soil. It’s less water intensive since the set up reduces water waste, making it more environmentally friendly. The lab has been growing a variety of greens including microgreens, baby heirloom lettuces, and more.  Aquaculture is the farming of seafood, which permits the cultivation of healthy seafood for human consumption. Unfortunately, sources of wild seafood have been grossly overfished. Aquaculture provides a real solution to this crisis. Currently, they are raising Red Nile Tilapia but there are plans to cultivate saltwater prawns and crayfish. The lab also has a small aquaponics system that combines the two. The waste water from the seafood helps fertilize the greens and filters the water that can now return to the tank. It’s a beautiful sustainable circle. The greens from the hydroponics lab have been donated to the Irving Park Food Pantry, facilitated by BuildOn, a vital partner and ally within the community. The lab was also recently certified by the CPS to supply food to the cafeteria. While they aren’t the first CPS school to receive such certification, they are first  indoor hydroponics lab in Chicago to receive that distinction. That’s super cool. The lab is all about “Feeding the mind, feeding the stomach, and feeding the community.”

So about those space tomatoes…For Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, they will set up a geodesic dome to show off the hydroponic and other systems. In addition to that, they will be unveiling the working food computer, invented at MIT. Guerrero explains that it’s basically a farm in a 2 x 2 foot box where all the conditions can be controlled to facilitate the growth of the plant inside. You can learn what settings of light, water, etc are most conducive to sharing and you can then share it with the world. The Schurz Food Lab has connected with Tomatosphere that works with NASA to grow seeds from the tomatoes grown in space in the working food box. So come to the faire and check out the growing space tomatoes!


Meet the Makers: Chicago Children’s Museum


Photo Credit: Chicago Children’s Museum

Want to learn how to use a power drill and make an amazing cool sculpture? Join Chicago Children’s Museum at the Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire.

The Chicago Children’s Museum is “a place where families and caregivers with infants and children are encouraged to create, explore, and discover together through play.”(1) One great place for kids to learn is the Tinkering Lab, a place for learning for children and their families. Kids can learn how to use real tools, like saws and drills, and have the freedom to choose their own projects. There is even an early learning nook for very young children.

Kim Koin, Director of Art and Tinkering Lab Studios, explains that the Tinkering Lab sees learning as a social activity. It’s a great place for kids to experiment and have wonderful conversations with their families. Kim explained, “Parents are really surprised at what kids can do.” She says a major takeaway from the Tinkering Lab is “learning from failure… We want kids to try something out, be able to test it out, and build again.” Critical thinking and problem solving are critical for kids of all ages. Tis place is heaven for young boys, you’re going to have gift ideas for 8 year old boys after just one visit. In May, the Tinkering Lab is excited to debut the Zoom Room, where kids can learn about physical science, play with force and motion with 100s of matchbox cars. There will be a station where kids can experiment with cars on different surfaces to explore friction. You can even learn how the timing to hit a car with a wrecking ball! It sounds amazing!

Chicago Children’s Museum is excited to return to Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire with a new exhibit, and meet other makers in the Chicago region as well. Last year, they had a great time with Cardboard Mechanism at our 4th annual event.

This year at the 5th anniversary Chicago Northside Mini Maker Faire, they will be running “Power Drill Sculptures.” Everyone can learn how to use a power drill safely. Kids will first learn how to use a c-clamp to secure wood and then they will be trained on how to use a power drill. They will be able to build a collaborative sculpture that will develop throughout the day. Kim Koin explained: “Bring your focus. Bring your creativity.” Who knows what form that sculpture will take? We’re excited to see how it progresses!