family fun

Family Fun with Light-up Felt Monsters

MARCH 17, 2015

LED felt monster

Last month DM+D launched Family Fun Day, a monthly series of family-friendly events led by The Hacktory’s Kids’ Club facilitators Allison Frick and Eric Manganaro.  The event attracted about fifteen attendees to create and battle robots made from toothbrushes and simple motors.  This month’s event on Saturday, March 21st, will be focused on creating ferociously adorable light-up felt monsters, and like last month’s event, it’s open to elementary school-aged kids and their adults.

Frick says there will be precut monster shapes and accessories so that kids can focus on the circuitry and not worry about cutting the component out incorrectly.  They’ll sew using conductive thread, which is similar to the thread used in gloves with fingertips that allow you to use your smartphone.  Each monster will connect up to two little battery packs several LEDs.

“The number one goal is to get one light that lights up,” says Frick. “After that they can do other stuff with it, like make the lights blink.”  The kids will focus on the circuitry while they’re at the event, but they’re encouraged to embellish their monsters after they’ve created a working circuit or at home.

LED in felt monster

This is the fourth time Frick has led this workshop, and she says that these events at DM+D attract parents who are excited about doing science with their children, so the adults are really engaged.

One of the things that excites Frick about this event in particular is that this is a project that parents may not necessarily try at home. “If you had the buy the parts on your own, it can end up being a little expensive and overwhelming,” laments Frick.

To make one–or one hundred–monsters still requires a spool of conductive thread, and that can run about $40 alone.

Another benefit of the event is that there will be lots of individualized instruction from both Frick and Manganaro, which lightens the load for parents.

“It may seem overwhelming to take this on by themselves,” says Frick, “but if parents can bring their kids with them to where there are teachers, it makes it less scary and encourages parents to try something new.”

Click here to register for family fun with light-up felt monsters this Saturday.

Felt monster 2   Felt monster 1


Felt monster in progress

Family Fun With Bristle Bots

FEBRUARY 2, 2015


Grab a toothbrush and prepare for battle!  Wait.  What?

On Saturday, February 21st, DM+D is launching a monthly series of family-friendly events. The first one, led by The Hacktory’s Kids’ Club facilitators Allison Frick and Eric Manganaro, will feature toothbrush-propelled robots, created by kids and their parents, racing each other and battling it out at DM+D.

The toothbrush robots, or “bristle bots,” made their first appearance several months ago at Kids’ Club, and they were a huge hit.  As Frick explains, “This is one of those projects that kids like and will work on consistently the whole time [at Kids' Club].”  Since the basic bots don’t take very long to make functional, the kids have plenty of time to embellish, explore and play with them—essentially, to make them their own.

Building on the success of the Kids’ Club experience, Frick and Manganaro led a similar program as part of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) programming at the Glenside Free Library, where Frick works as a youth services librarian.  They’ve since led several other popular events at the library that will form the basis for more events in DM+D’s family-friendly series, but the bristle bots were exceptionally successful, drawing over fifty people.

“It’s really nice because we’ve already run these programs a few times, and we really know what works and what doesn’t work,” says Frick.  ”These Saturday programs are really the best of Kids’ Club and the best of outreach.”

Frick is excited about the events because they give parents and kids a chance to learn and create something together.  The bristle bots event is geared towards elementary school-aged children and their parents, but younger children can participate if their parents are there help them throughout the process.

And although building robots may sound like serious work, Frick says not to worry.  ”There will be googly eyes.”


Click here to register for the upcoming Build. Battle. Bots. event.