Weather Balloon in the Works

Unfortunately the weather balloon has been put on hold as the end of the year and summer activities have kept us busier than normal. We hope to get back to it before the end of the summer. Also hope to catch up with the blog and post some more of the cool stuff the kids have been working on.

payload rings

payload rings

We just finished cutting out the body of the balloon using foam and nichrome wire.  First the inside was cut out and then the outside, making rings that we will glue together to have an Orion shaped Capsule.

hollowing out the body

hollowing out the body

Balloon Capsule (hollow)

Balloon Capsule (hollow)


Our latest project is building a weather balloon.  We are still in the early stages of planning and ordering parts but will add more information as progress is made.


Coloring Marker Bot

We finally made a simple Coloring Marker Bot with our youngest, and it was all joy!  We originally saw this idea at the NoCo Mini Maker Faire and had to try it at home.

Materials: Plastic cup, duct tape, some markers, a motor, 1 AA battery, some wires to connect the motor and battery, and a hot glue stick.

Marker BotHow to make a Coloring Marker Bot:

1. Connect wires to your motor (ours was an up cycled motor that already had wires attached).

2. Cut about 1/3 of a hot glue stick and push it firmly onto the motor shaft, so it is off center–this is what causes the vibration that moves the bot.

3. Tape your motor to the bottom of the cup (top of Marker Bot), using duct tape.

4. Arrange and tape desired markers around the outside of the cup making sure not to interfere with hot glue stick as the motor turns. Also be sure the marker tips are evenly aligned so all colors actually mark the paper as the bot moves.

5. Tape the battery to the cup anywhere it won’t interfere with the motor, but so it can be connected properly.

6. Tape one wire from the motor to one end of the battery.  If you connect both it will start running, so be sure you are ready for that.

7. Connect the second wire to the battery once you are ready to see the bot in action.  Make sure your fingers are not near the motor.  We used duct tape but made it so the connection could easily be removed to stop the bot.

8. Put your bot on some paper and watch it go!  We used an old drawer from our pantry to help contain the bot from going off the paper.

9. Experiment with taping different things to weight the bot in certain ways and observe its movement.  Can you get it to go straight or in circles?

10. Have fun!



Weekend Fun

lemon battery

Last night we had fun experimenting with lemon batteries.  We used 3 juicy lemons, a galvanized nail and a penny to power a blinking LED.  We measured 2.1V at the output!  We let it run over night and the LED was still faintly blinking in the morning, over 13 hours later.  It was great to see the kids’ enthusiasm and excitement when they got it working!

What IF… Festival: Saturday, Sept. 7th 10am-4pm

We are so thrilled that the What IF… Festival is only a week away.  We have been patiently waiting and are now counting down!  Here is list of the festival experiences along with a map. 6-city blocks and100 exhibits…how to choose???

We looked through the booths and exhibits and are now trying to narrow things down.  Top on our list are the 3D printers, Artful Robotic Contraptions, Giant Bubbles, Water Balloon Sling Shot, Tinker Station, Clayfest, and others.

What IF... Festival Guide Cover

If you are a runner, or not, there is a Fun Run with costumes and all.  Definitely worth checking out.

Still Making

It’s been a while since our last post, but we’ve been busy making, just not keeping up with the blog.

Recently we made Brush Bots from the Maker Shed.  The kids had a blast and set up a little track for the bots to race each other.  Our biggest project is the tree house we are building in our back yard, it is a big project but we are making progress.  Doll bunk beds are being designed and constructed by our girls and our oldest made an awesome bike rack out of a repurposed pallet…all on his own!  Hopefully pictures of all these fun adventures will be added soon.

Our Maker Shelf (and more)

We have a special shelf dedicated to little things our kiddos make.  Right now on display are: rubber band powered rockets, a solar car, catapults, and a little aluminum and paper boat, all of which were made in after school clubs.


Our goal is to post as many of the things they’ve already made, or that we’ve made as a family, as well as all the new things we have in the works.  This blog will be our virtual shelf and a great way to keep track of all the cool stuff they’ve done.

Grandma and grandpa (Pop-Pop) have also helped make many things with our kiddos that include the bird house, pillows and rock climbing wall below.  100_2083

The bird house was a kit Pop-Pop made and brought out, for our then 7-year old, as a birthday project they could do together.  She loved it and was impressed that he actually made the kit!


The pillows…years ago we needed a new shower curtain and our kids were young (or not even born).  When I saw this cute dog and cat shower curtain in the store, I knew it would bring a smile to their faces.  When we moved almost two years ago, to a house with glass shower doors, we decided to bring the curtain with us.  It was a fond memory of our little bathroom and kids growing up, counting and picking their favorite dogs and cats.  Last winter Grandma transformed the shower curtain into six wonderful pillow cases and we enjoy them every day!


A work in progress…We all love climbing and started this rock climbing wall in our great room (really more of a rec. room) last summer.  There is a slant to the wall on the right.  So behind the plywood we built a platform that the kids can climb up to and read or hang out. There are storage hooks and another shelf also behind the slanted wall that hold climbing shoes, more holds and other gear.  We hope to expand the wall and will post more when we do.  It has already provided loads of fun and exercise for us all.  In this photo you can see the safety pads that we hang up when the wall is not in use.  Safety first!