Highly polished all-in-one gear for teaching STEM is one way to approach the problem. But for some, they can be intimidating and the up-front expenditure can be a barrier to just trying something before you’re certain you want to commit. [Miranda] is taking a different approach with the aim of making engineering education possible with junk you have around the house. The point is to play around with engineering concepts with having to worry about doing it exactly right, or with exactly the right materials. You know… hacking!
On display at her Maker Faire Bay Area booth were numerous builds built common goods you likely have on hand. I quite enjoyed seeing the tentacle made of out popsicle sticks, glue, straws, and some string. It’s pretty cool to hold onto one end and pull the string to roll up the appendage, and provides the most basic intro to fabrication and robotics concepts. Think back to some of your earliest empowering moments when you realized you didn’t need purpose-built things like LEGO to build stuff. You can build using anything!
Most popular at the booth is a set of electric banjos. They’re nothing more than a fingerboard, strings, and a piezo element. Connect to a small Radio Shack amp/speaker combo and you get a pretty good sound out of them. [Miranda] added a 3D printed fret board which she plans to make available for those who don’t want to fabricate their own fret system. Along with those, there is a DJ mixing board that used old CDs placed on bottle caps to swivel and have salvage tactile switches underneath to give them interactivity.
There’s a ton to look at on her collection of guides. She gave me a demonstration of her Harry Potter themed wands, one which shoots water and the other that shoots BBs. These would make perfect summer projects to take on one the kids are out of school. There are plans to get a subscription kit biz up and running at some point in the future but the instructions for the builds will always be available free.