Tinker Tuesdays 2015: A Recap

Illuminated Mask image

Tinker Tuesday: Illuminated Masks & Minecraft Bookmarks

As I clean up the mess left behind in the wake of our summer learning program, I’m of course remembering the highlights. This was the third year I offered a summer maker/tinker series for kids and teens ages 8-18 and it continues to be popular and successful. Many of the young makers come to every program which this year ranged from an Illuminated Masks & Bookmarks program to DIY: Bike Maintenance and Soldering 101. I specifically look for both what interests our community and what gaps exist in the offerings for kids and teens around town.

The series is designed to offer kids access to the materials and know-how to explore high and low tech projects, inspire their creativity, strengthen their critical thinking skills and of course expose them to new ideas. We don’t have the physical space for a permanent makerspace, so we set up shop each week and give kids and teens time to play and explore. We do this with the help of several community mentors who share their expertise and enthusiasm to complement what I bring to the program. Some programs are led by me and some by other mentors.

In year’s past, we’ve had anywhere from 10-45 participants in our small space where we host our maker programs (community meeting room). This year I planned some programs that require more expensive materials, but with the same small budget, so I needed to know that I would have enough supplies for everyone who attended. I decided to require registration this year so I could foresee the number of makers I would need to plan for. To keep the process consistent, I had participants register for all programs, even those that were cheaper supply-wise. It worked well, although not perfectly as many librarians can imagine. I did reminder calls the day before to help manage any wait lists and allowed kids who showed up to join if there was space.

Programs either had space for 12 or 20 depending on the activity and the layout of the room needed for each program. For example, coding had a maximum of 12 because we had teams of two working on 6 laptops or 10 iPads spread out on meeting room tables. Bike Maintenance could accommodate more participants because we removed the furniture for part of the program and went outside for the rest.

Here are the cost breakdowns if you’re interested. In addition to materials and any professional fees required for each program, I’ve included the costs of snacks that we offer at all of these longer programs to keep those creative minds strong (and feed any kids who regularly go hungry during the summer).

Note on funding: Our Friends group continues to fund this series plus our entire summer learning program with the help of strong community support. With additional resources we would eagerly run more maker programs after school or during school closures throughout the year.

Program Kids/Teens Attendance Cost Notes
Illuminated Masks/Bookmarks 12 $274 (enough materials for an additional small program during the Winter)
Superhero Collage 10 $209  (guest mentor)
Soldering 10 $205 (guest mentor, enough materials for an additional small program during the Winter)
LEGO Club (met 2 times) $36 $0 (we already have the LEGOs thatnks to the ALSC/LEGO grant and snacks were pulled from the large stash I have on hand)
Coding 8 $9 (PB & J supplies for programming demo)
Coding for Girls 6 $0
DIY Bike Maintenance 12 $150  (guest mentor)
Marine Mammal Rescue & Rehab 20 $303 (guest mentor, funded by an inter-library cooperation grant from our state library)
ROVs 18 $0 (guest mentors, program equipment and staff provided by a local partner organization)
Drawing Comics 28 $805  (guest mentor)
General Snacks $50 (paid for snacks for all programs)
Total Costs: $2,005

If you have questions about the individual programs, please let me know.

Superhero Training Camp

Superhero Training Camp Photo Source: homer tribune.com

Superhero Training Camp Photo Source: homertribune.com

During the first week of our summer learning program, we hosted a Superhero Training Camp in our kids’ library for kids 11 and under. About 30 people came to experiment, fly, design and maneuver. With three adults and my daughter, we offered nine stations. Families explored them at their won pace over an hour and everyone left with smiles. I finally got a chance to show off my cape and my illuminated mask! (The mask was a Tinker Tuesday program project using conductive thread). A reporter from one of the local newspapers stopped by and wrote an article about our Summer@HPL program.

The Stations
A quick note about the stations- all of the materials for this program cost about $55. I scavenged many of the weird materials and had others on hand.

Spider ScienceSpider Science (in honor of Spiderman)
This may remind you of the classic volcano experiment. Kids also were familiar with the bubbling volcano which helped them hypothesize about what was happening. I made 8 baking soda spiders out of baking soda, water, liquid watercolor and colored pipe cleaners the night before so they were frozen when the camp began. The spider thaws as it reacts with the vinegar. (Source: Fun at Home With Kids via What Do We Do All Day? which has a nice post about superhero science projects.)


  • Baking soda spiders (made the night before)
  • Rubber totes (We used 2 and had the spiders reacting at alternating times)
  • Vinegar (Because of the tote size we used quite a bit. For 8 spiders we used 3 large bottles of vinegar.)
  • Liquid Watercolor (darker colors worked the best.)
  • Dish soap (Just a few drops is needed for each spider.)

Laser CourseLaser Course
We strung green yarn between two of the stacks in the kids’ library. The idea is for kids to maneuver their bodies down the row over and under without touching the yarn. Small bells on the yarn let kids know if they touched it and when they heard the sound they instantly returned to the start for another try! My Summer@HPL assistant worked at this station and started with a simple course, gradually adding more yarn as kids mastered the course. This was a popular station and some kids spent the whole hour here.


  • Yarn
  • Bells
  • Masking tape

Superhero StrengthSuper Strength
At this station I had some fake weights for kids to lift. From afar, many of the kids thought they were real and were surprised to find they were easy to lift, even for the younger ones. What a great opportunity to talk about mass! The large “weight” was made with blue board (sprayed black) and a dowel. I glued the “weights” on to the dowel so they would stay put with the all of th rough housing. The smaller weight was made with a smaller dowel and two styrofoam balls sprayed black. I also glued these “weights” on to the dowel. I needed these weights to last an hour and they did, with just a bit of life to spare!


  • wood dowels (two different diameters)
  • 2 large styrofoam balls
  • blueboard
  • black spray paint


Super SnacksSuper Snacks
I offer healthy snacks at many of our summer programs and included a variety  of super snacks at the camp. Most of the food was eventually devoured.


  • Apple slices
  • Carrots
  • Cheese cubes
  • Crackers
  • Water pitcher and cups
  • Red paper for table

Mask and Wrist CuffsCostumes

I offered two different costume crafts to get our little superheroes outfitted. The mask template I found online at First Palette last Halloween and the wrist cuff idea I adapted from the blog Piper Loves the Library. These two stations were right next to each other so my daughter, who is quite crafty and works well with kids, could oversee them both. Several kids spent the entire hour moving between the three crafts.

Mask Materials:

  • Masks on cardstock (cut out before event)
  • Yarn (to tie the masks)
  • Markers and crayons
  • Scissors
  • Sparkly decorations
  • Colored pencils

Wrist Cuff Materials:

  • Coffee cup sleeves (50 were donated by two coffee shops, but we only used about 30)
  • Construction paper to cover the sleeves
  • Tacky glue
  • Letter or star stickers
  • Plain paper for designing own emblems
  • Markers/crayons
  • Scissors

Superhero Paper DollsSuperhero Paper Dolls

I found this superhero paper doll template and thought it would be a nice addition to the program. I printed out templates on yardstick and put them on a table with the usual supplies plus brass fasteners to attach the limbs and a variety of scrapbook paper for some fun color. The superhero was easily customized.


  • Superhero doll template on cardstock
  • Markers, crayons and colored pencils
  • Brass fasteners
  • Yarn (for hair)
  • Scrapbook paper in a variety of patterns
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • Tape

Superhero Photo BoothPhoto Booth
Without the lovely young woman who was hired as a Summer@HPL assistant, I could not have pulled off the backdrop for the photo booth! It took a couple of hours to design, cut and glue. I saw this on a Storytime Underground Facebook conversation and knew we had to have a photo booth like this one!
Kids laid down on the backdrop so it appeared as if their were flying over the buildings. The tie dye cape is something we made at home a couple of years ago and was one of a few props we had on hand for booth. Most kids had made a mask by the time they came to this station and wore if for the photo. Caregivers took photos if they had a camera/phone or we sent a photo to them.


  • Backdrop for floor (made in advance)
  • Superhero Signs (words like Pow! attached to craft sticks)
  • Capes (made out of sheets, etc.)

Leap Over a Tall BuildingLeap Over a Tall Building
I found some cardboard boxes and we covered them with the paper used for bulletin boards. The boxes were a huge hit both as hurdles and stacked as a singular building which was punched with superhero fists over and over again.


  • Cardboard boxes in various sizes
  • Paper

Kryponite Sensory PlayKryptonite Sensory Play
Green painted rocks were buried in rubber tote of beans and our little superheroes used their hands and x-ray vision to find the kryptonite. This was another idea from the Storytime Underground Facebook conversation.

Thanks to all of the librarians who shared their ideas!