Northumberland Makers: Building Confidence through Teaching Electronics

The makerspace class at Northumberland Christian School is on mission to explore the world of technology and innovation. We seek to be part of ideas that collide with real-world opportunities. We don’t just want our students to create. We want our students to create with purpose. The things we make, the ideas we are exploring, and a little bit of chaos… All these will be part of our monthly student blog series. The goal is to let the students speak for themselves. Each post will include the work and observations of a student at Northumberland Christian School. They are the makers, reviewers, and tinkerers.

This post was written by Mia Epley.


I began working with littleBits at the beginning of the 2nd quarter. I’m a junior, so at this point I am looking into colleges or tech schools. I realized that I want to be involved with engineering. Taking up a computer programming class would look good on my transcript. However, it turned out to be more involved than I thought. I thought having a small class would make it a breeze. I quickly found out different when my teacher told us we would be presenting to the elementary classes. I found it easy to follow plans giving to me, but I struggled to make plans for these kids.

My teacher gave a presentation to the kindergarteners, while my class and I got to see an example of how we were gonna do this.

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I had little experience with littleBits, but I used this opportunity to teach other kids while learning myself. I started off my presentation explaining what littleBits are and the meaning of each color of the parts. The kids were very eager to play with them, which was exciting for me. After I explained how they worked magnetically together, I gave the kids one of each part and let them see what they could do. They were very excited to switch parts with their friends to see what they could create.

Here, two of the girls I worked with had switched parts with each other and were seeing how they could use their power to control their outputs.

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I had put the class into groups and this group of boys were working on how to make a circuit to make the fan go. They switched parts with other friends to find the right ones they needed to complete the challenge I gave them.

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It was so great to see how smart these kids were and how interested they became in these electronics. Introducing littleBits to this class was a learning opportunity for both me and the kids.

Northumberland Makers: LEGO and LittleBits Birthday Parade Float

The makerspace class at Northumberland Christian School is on mission to explore the world of technology and innovation. We seek to be part of ideas that collide with real-world opportunities. We don’t just want our students to create. We want our students to create with purpose. The things we make, the ideas we are exploring, and a little bit of chaos… All these will be part of our monthly student blog series. The goal is to let the students speak for themselves. Each post will include the work and observations of a student at Northumberland Christian School. They are the makers, reviewers, and tinkerers.

This post was written by Ian Weirick.


Ever since I was very little, I have been fascinated with building things. As a result, I got into LEGO products at a young age. That interest has stayed with me throughout my childhood and remains prevalent in my life to this day. Earlier this month, my class learned that we were entered in a competition and that we had to work on a birthday-themed project. When we decided on the concept to build a celebratory parade, it did not take long for me to decide that these building blocks were the best material for me to use to complete my part.

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I began my work soon thereafter, primarily selecting pieces from the large bag pictured on the right. Although I had a few different design variations in my mind, they all shared the same basic features. I would construct a long, thin platform out of the biggest plates I could find, then add wheels under it. Next, I would use pieces to spell “Happy Birthday!” twice to be visible on both sides of the float. I planned ideally to use translucent pieces so I could shine lights through them, and a surprisingly convenient visit to the LEGO store in Philadelphia supplied me with plenty of 1×1 translucent red pieces to use. Below is the result of experimenting with them.

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My work to prepare the two sets of words at home stalled because of the lack of sufficient bricks to fill in the gaps. Meanwhile, in school, the float itself was coming along well. The platform and first set of wheels were finished within the first session of work. The picture on the left shows the status of the float after a couple days of building. The platform and the eight wheels necessary to support it are ready to go but still need some tweaking.

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By the time I was this far on the float, I had also gotten enough white pieces that I could begin filling in the words for the float. Following several hours of tedious, frustrating manipulation of pieces, each of the two birthday messages look like this:

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This second portion of work began when I brought together the two separate LEGO builds at school. I had added walls around the two LEGO phrases to form a three dimensional structure that would fit over the float that had been waiting. Unfortunately, this process became much more complicated than I had expected.

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The workspace eventually came to look like the above picture on the right. Several of us worked together to figure out this struggle. Everything was going according to plan until I realized the circuit intended to produce the light would not stretch the length of the entire phrase. This sparked a long series of experiments to see what might possibly diffuse the light most effectively. The two most effective were the ideas of wrapping the middle Lego wall in aluminum foil and cutting up CDs to tape them inside the walls. Below are two pictures of the project “looking sharp” with all its reflective surfaces.

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With crisis averted as efficiently as possible, we pressed on to fit the top onto the base of the float, which proved to be much easier said than done. Adding another layer of baseplates did not help much. We soon resorted to duct tape for aid. After several minutes of frustrated pressing, however, the pieces finally stayed together, and our test of the circuit was successful. Now the only part remaining was to connect all our floats to make one big parade.

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My class completed the procession and submitted it for our competition. While I am interested in finding out how we did, I am satisfied anyway because of the unique opportunities I had in this project. It is not often that a high school student gets to play with LEGOs in school and actually say he is being productive. The LittleBits were fun to work with as well. Even though I was totally new to them at the beginning of the year, I got used to them quickly and enjoyed being able to combine them with the Legos I have been using for years. This project was very fun for me, and I look forward to the chance to build using these materials again.
To see the whole parade in action check out these 2 videos:

Northumberland Makers: 3D Printed Deck Boxes

The makerspace class at Northumberland Christian School is on mission to explore the world of technology and innovation. We seek to be part of ideas that collide with real-world opportunities. We don’t just want our students to create. We want our students to create with purpose. The things we make, the ideas we are exploring, and a little bit of chaos… All these will be part of our monthly student blog series. The goal is to let the students speak for themselves. Each post will include the work and observations of a student at Northumberland Christian School. They are the makers, reviewers, and tinkerers.


Making Custom Deck Boxes

by Braiden Reich

I was inspired with the idea to build deck boxes out of a 3D printer, because I enjoy playing MTG (Magic the Gathering). MTG is a popular competitive card game. For example some other competitive card games would be Pokemon and Yugioh.

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My deck boxes are made to be customizable and thanks to our 3D printer I can make anything a customer wants.. So if you’re not into video games or nerdy, competitive card games that’s fine. I have come up with some customizable ideas that will allow this deck box to sort and organize almost any card or board game.

I did run into some problem with my dimensions while making the box. My lids at the start were made to fit firmly so all your cards could safely be stored in the box. However, my lids for my prototype box fit way to firm (this caused stress on both the lids and the box). So I thought to myself, “Oh this is a simple fix. Just make the lids smaller.” Well of course i then ran into the trouble of my lids sliding out to easily. In fact I am still perfecting the dimensions of the top lid, but no worries all the deck boxes I have made so far are very firm. My issue with the upper lid is that no matter my dimensions the 3D printer is not perfect. It is only a machine, and that being said all dimensions or the box and lids are a hair different. Some of the plastic filaments often form differently. Some of the plastic fills are firmer and more hardier and others are lighter and expand more. The good thing is me and the machine are developing a relationship, and what i mean by that is, the more I use the machine and the plastic fills the more I am learning about them. So ultimately the more I am making the boxes the more perfecting I will be doing.

My deck boxes are able to keep your board games neat or organized. I know often it can be annoying to have to open a board game and see cards and dice thrown around within the box. My boxes will not only protect your cards but also keep them from getting lost. The boxes can be made of either durable plastic (PLA), wood, or carbon fiber filaments.

As I said before my deck boxes are made to be customizable. Sure they can be plain or just casual but where is the fun in that. My plan is to sell my deck boxes at Groggs Game Shop where I am a member. I am hoping to make some extra cash and also give some money to support 3D printing at my school. (I hope to be able to ship the boxes eventually). I have predeveloped dimensions for a 60 card deck, but I am willing to adjust dimensions for almost anything. Whether for a board game or for competitive card playing.

So the Zelda box mixed both the original 8-bit Zelda video games with the newer Zelda games,hence the more recent triforce and master sword lids. I custom made this of course for a friend of mine and not only was it fun to make but it was also my first sale.
So the Zelda box mixed both the original 8-bit Zelda video games with the newer Zelda games,hence the more recent triforce and master sword lids. I custom made this of course for a friend of mine and not only was it fun to make but it was also my first sale.