Mini Makers Learn to Make Toys

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This past winter, we ran a course for our Mini Maker program called Tinkering Toys, which aimed to teach our youngest makers a variety of manufacturing techniques for creating toys. Any chance the Mini Makers have to 3D print they take it, so when they found out that we would be creating toys by not only 3D printing, but by hand and using a laser cutter they were beyond excited!

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This course covered a variety of topics related to toy manufacturing, from coming up with the design to the different processes for fabrication.  For each project, we worked through the design process and then turned our designs into actual toys using a different technique each time.

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Each Mini Maker started out by designing their own Toy Company.  Here we practiced the process of Screen Printing.  Each Mini Maker created a logo image for their company and screen printed it using embroidery hoops and vinyl cutting.

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From there we moved on to Mold Making, another process that can be mass produced.  Each Mini Maker designed a mold using Tinkercad to be 3D printed and filled with, what we like to call, sticky toy solution. This solution works great for creating window clings and toys like those sticky hands found in quarter machines.

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As we created each toy, Mini Makers would go through the design process, come up with how their toy would look, prototype, rework the design, and produce their product. Some toys we produced directly focused on different steps of the design process, whether that was specifically designing their logo, prototyping with their 3D printed parachute toys, or fabrication through sewing or laser cutting, they still had to go through the whole process.

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Testing our 3D Printed Parachute Toys
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Painting our Laser Cut Memory Game tiles
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Spinning Tops

At the end of the cycle we had our very own Toy Fair where the Mini Makers pitched their company and ideas to the public. They showcased each of the products they made and talked about the processes used to create each one. It was so rewarding to see the Mini Makers really grasp the concepts they learned and be able to show off their work confidently.

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And the cherry on top of this sundae, is that one of our Mini Makers, Jacob, was invited to the White House Science Fair to share his line of toy products and talk about what he learned about manufacturing with President Obama! If you like, you can read more about that here: Jacob Goes to the White House

This was an enjoyable course for all our Mini Makers, educators, and staff and definitely something we would like to run again in the future.

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