Originality, Problem-Solving, & Collaboration

As you implement the IDEAS Maker Program with your students, prepare to be delighted by the projects they create. The activities in both curricula are designed to encourage problem-solving and collaboration among students, but the originality of some of their work is a bonus. Here we present some examples, which can also serve as inspiration for your own student makers.

A student’s hand holds a folded piece of paper with a hand drawn light up sword in front of a laptop. The laptop shows a digital illustration of this same sword.

IDEAS curricula introduce students to paper circuits. Using copper tape, batteries, and LEDs, the possibilities are endless. From re-creating magical objects from favorite movies to designing cards and signs to fabricating items to populate imagined worlds, including light in a creation is admittedly one of the most challenging activities in the curricula and always brings tremendous satisfaction when makers’ see their ideas illuminate.


A red clay cylinder with a hole down the middle is shown next to it’s 3D replica made from melted glue.

The Original IDEAS curriculum, well-suited for middle school-aged students, introduces kids to 3D printing through kinesthetic layering activities that builds understanding about how 3D printing works. Starting with Play-Doh, moving on to cutting layers of foam or cardboard, and ending with layering hot glue, students eventually use software called Tinkercad to design, and then print, 3D objects, taking into account surface area, object orientation, and overhang.


Small, flat, circular pieces of cardboard are stacked on top of eachother. Starting from the bottom of the stack, the circles increase up to the midway point and then decrease in size. The figure has a cardboard stem and resembles an apple. The wavy middle layers of each piece of cardboard are exposed.

Learning how to manipulate cardboard, especially scoring, goes a long way, giving makers the power to create strong shapes with clean lines. And cardboard is one of those workhorse materials that is in abundant supply, ready for collection and does not require spending a penny. Put out a call for cardboard donations to families or colleagues and before you know it, you’ll have a huge supply of cereal, shoe, and pasta boxes. Take a walk to your community’s recycling bins and you can likely score some great BIG boxes. Even hitting a local grocery store or shop and asking for discarded shipping boxes can maintain maker club stock.


A small green snowman made out of three stacked clay balls.

Clay is a great material for makers of all ages. It’s forgiving, easy to manipulate and many makers love how it feels in their hands.


The picture on the left shows a handmade journal with a blue cover. The cover is decorated with multi-colored stickers and tape. Two tabs are wrapped from the front to the back of the journal and are labeled “Lock”. There is a “Do Not Open” sign sitting above the journal. The picture on the right shows a second handmade journal with a pink cover. Written on the cover are the words, “Makers Club!”. There are three line drawings of faces with googly eyes. There are 5 clusters of googly eyes under clear mounds of dried glue.

Journal making is a great way to introduce some key making tools (rulers, hammers, nails, scissors, sewing needles, and thread) but doing this activity early on in a maker program gives learners a landing place for burgeoning ideas and record keeping right off the bat. The IDEAS curricula provide instructions for both a sewn binding and a wrapped binding, providing different pathways to journal making.


On the left is a picture of a student’s hand holds a vertical contraption made from 2 popsicle sticks, a battery and a motor. A propellor spins at the top. On the right is spinning windmill made from a paper cult and popsicle sticks.

Motors come in endless shapes and sizes, each bringing its own set of possibilities to maker creations. Experimenting with how motors work and adding movement to creations is a great way to level-up one’s skill and push one’s creativity.


A 3D parallelogam made out of white paper.

Paper is a fantastic making material because it is familiar, is not hard to come by, and can be endlessly manipulated with or without tools or having specific paper craft skills.


A student’s final project is presented on a black poster board with neon green paper labels. On the left side of the board, there is a 3D printed score of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star with prototype versions and the perfected 3D musical notes. On the right side there are samples of other completed projects such as a 3D eraser, a circuit board, journal and a vibrating motor.

Both IDEAS curricula culminate with a showcase where students share their projects with the community. In addition to projects, the original curriculum asks makers to create a board to include with artifacts, naming the activities and materials they used for each and reflecting on their making process.


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