Classroom Packs Shine in Bay Area Schools

Classroom Packs Shine in Bay Area Schools


One young man placed his LED bling into a small box and proposed on bended knee to a young lady in class. It was touching.

Love emerging in the classroom! Students shining with the glow of learning! We have no idea if the “young lady” accepted this proposal, but it does seem like the dozens of kits Maker Faire sent out to schools were life-changing for a few students whose teachers participated in a pilot program we led this spring to try out some new classroom kits.


As part of Maker Media’s changing educational outreach, we prototyped a new school-focused kit we called Circuit Curious, pictured above. We delivered this first version of the Maker Faire Classroom Pack to 16 teachers of 575 students at a dozen schools in San Francisco, East Palo Alto, Oakland, Daly City, and Forestville. Our boxes included materials for groups of 12 to engage in five different, fun basic circuit-related activities.


You can do these activities yourself! You can purchase the boxes’ inventory online, from a “dollar store,” and from RadioShack.

Additional resources on the activities can be found in the Maker Faire Classroom Pack 2014: Overview PDF and at the following links:

SAMSUNG CSC squishy girlworking

Sculpted Circuits aka Squishy CircuitsLight up your sculpture with conductive dough, LEDs, motors, 9V batteries, and alligator clip test leads. You can mix up the insulating dough using easy-to-find grocery store items. Two students were trying to create Ironman and had the body formed when they realized that by wrapping the red dough around the insulating dough, they could attach more LEDs and make it light up all around.

SAMSUNG CSC scribble-guide SAMSUNG CSC scribble machines

Scribble MachinesCreate a “vibrobot” that draws with the included pens, motors, batteries, tape, cups, eraser weights, and a few fun things to decorate with. One teacher reported that the students “think it is funny that the front window is covered with their scribbles.”


Paper CircuitsStudents can make light-up drawings with the provided LEDs, clear tape, copper tape, binder clips, and batteries. One teacher reported that “These teenagers were like little kids making their Mother’s Day cards, and it was rather sweet. The best part was that they were making circuits, which I felt was totally appropriate for the class.” Another teacher said, “I got a lot of really creative drawings that the student made light up. It was another way to create art and have the students get really engaged. It was also great to display for our welcome night.”


LED Binder Clip BlingStudents can make wearable light-up accessories using the provided LEDs, batteries, binder clips, foamies sheets, glue dots, chenille stems, and googly eyes. One teacher reported that she liked “how creative the students were. When I did a practice run through at home with my husband, I never imagined how much cooler my students bling would be than mine. They were amazingly creative!!!

Light Up and PaintIf you have a computer with a webcam, you can make light paintings using the great little tool GlowDoodle! Hint: download the desktop version of Glow Doodle and use the “s” key to save your light paintings locally on your computer in the application’s folder.


Students loved the activities! Here are some of the things they did and said.

  • After each day of Maker [activities], my students told me the same thing, “This was the best day of class ever!”
  • As the scribble machines were up and running, all my students were seen with their eyes wide open and huge smiles on their faces. It was great seeing the pride they had in the machine they had made.
  • I have many students that don’t speak English and often don’t participate in class.  This activity really made them shine, because they weren’t held back by a lack of language.  They were capable of figuring it out, and were so proud to show what they created.
  • “I liked seeing the magic in the battery and the lights, thinking about making my own designs, making my own thing and watching what others made.”
  • I really enjoyed seeing my students working together and helping other team members out when they needed to problem solve. It was great seeing their faces light up when they turned on their scribble machine and saw it in action.
  • My student really liked making the circuits. They loved being able to play with a variety of lights and batteries and making different connections and exploring what did and did not work. They loved that it was an art activity so they got to create gifts for people and they got to keep the circuits they created.
  • My students were engaged throughout the whole process and most of them shared it as their good news at the end of the day.
  • One of my second graders created a sunset setting on the water and sand as his foam creation and lit it up with the LED light. It was so beautiful and carefully thought out and crafted.
  • One of my students who has had trouble academically and has had behavior issues really excelled with this project. He was the first to get his to work, and he beamed with pride. All of the other students were asking him for help, and I think he really needed that for his confidence.
  • Three students responded that “The most fun part of making was …
    • “… the feeling you get when you make it by yourself!”
    • “… using something in everyday life and turning it into something completely different.”
    • “… trying to figure out how to troubleshoot if there was something wrong.”

Teachers loved the activities! Here are some of the things they said about them.

  • It brought joy into our Makerspace!
  • I really like this activity. The possibilities are endless, and it requires that they plan in order to achieve their final goal. The final product is really neat and it can be done at varying levels of challenge.
  • This was an absolutely amazing opportunity!  I have never seen my students more motivated, engaged, and determined.  It felt so great to see their pride and sense of accomplishment.  I truly love that every student felt success and capable of making something.  I also love that everything needed was provided and the guides were awesome!!!!
  • It is so inspirational to watch my students using their creative and innovative sides when working on these maker projects. There is more to school then just the core content areas and I am glad that I was able to bring these activities to the classroom and plan to use similar activities in my 4th grade classroom next year. A few simple supplies and directions led to amazing learning and problem solving experiences for my 2nd and 3rd graders.
  • I LOVED it!  I am saving the materials that were reusable to continue doing every year with my students.  AWESOME activities, very engaging, and very rewarding for our students.
  • It was wonderful! I work in a low-income school and the materials were all new. Many of the students have parents in construction or mechanics, so building and tinkering are not entirely unfamiliar. However, they have never used materials like this before. I am going to share the activities with the other teachers at my grade level.
  • I loved that the activity gave every kid the opportunity to succeed.  The kids begged to spend more time working on them.
  • I had a lot of students who struggled with being creative – they are apt to follow instructions and have a tendency to hinge on the teacher telling them what to do. This activity helps them break out of that mold – no instructions on the foam creation, no limits to what you can create!
  • I liked that they were able to make something actually move. Never in their wildest dreams did they think that they would be using motors in our classroom. They also loved the giant roll of paper that I put out and the time I gave them to play with the machines. They had races, battles and tons of fun.

We’ll be looking at all the feedback and improving the kits and getting a new set out in the coming months.


0 thoughts on “Classroom Packs Shine in Bay Area Schools

  1. Ms. W says:

    Are these classroom packs going to be available again? I have a class that would love this.

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Michelle, or Binka, makes . While at Maker Media, she oversaw publications, outreach, and programming for kids, families, and schools. Before joining Maker Media in 2007, she worked at the Exploratorium, in Mitchel Resnick’s Lifelong Kindergarten group at the MIT Media Lab, and as a curriculum designer for various publishers and educational researchers. When she’s not supporting future makers, including her two young sons, Binka does some making of her own, most often as a visual artist.

View more articles by Michelle "Binka" Hlubinka

Jessica designs art, making, and STEAM experiences for learners of all ages. She's developed and produced hands-on workshops, public programs, video media, project guides, and PD resources for organizations like Maker Media, the Exploratorium, and Franconia Sculpture Park. She holds a BFA in Sculpture from RISD and an EdM from Harvard.

She's shared hands-on activities with attendees at Maker Faires since 2007.

View more articles by Jessica Henricks


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