What We Teach

Gadget Lab operates under the premise that our homes are a laboratory of joy and learning. While we sometimes use 3D printers and computers, our main goal is to find the magic in ordinary things, then tear them apart and see how they work. Our workshops are divided into four primary categories:  GadgetHeads, CodeHeads and  Arts and Design.  Short format workshops offer a variety of  one  or two day workshops on various topics. 

All workshops have a "Screentime" rating and include a list of the skills for a Tech Resume where kids keep track of what they've learned. They can use this resume  for summer job applications or for bragging to the relatives.

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Gadget Lab operates under the premise that our homes are a laboratory of joy and learning. While we sometimes use 3D printers and computers, our main goal is to find the magic in ordinary things, then tear them apart and see how they work. Our workshops are divided into four primary categories:  GadgetHeads, CodeHeads and  Arts and Design.  Short format workshops offer a variety of  one  or two day workshops on various topics. 

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GadgetHeads

 

In GadgetHeads workshop series offers fun hands on activities that teach about the physical world  of circuits and their components. The overall theme of GadgetHeads is "Robots, the inside story". We learn about motors, circuits and batteries then make our own robots in the CodeHeads workshops. 

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GadgetHeads Core 

The theme of GadgetHeads is "Robots the Inside Story".  You don't actually make robots (we do that in CodeHeads) but you'll learn about motors, circuits and batteries - key componenets of robots- by making cool projects like a spinny motor, a doorbell for your room, a cool copper flashlight and an electronic Simon Says game.  This is Gadget Lab's core workshop and every activity is designed to build skills, inspire curiosity and instill a joy in making things yourself. 

Ages: 10 -14

Screentime Rating: Moderate (Just the 3D Design for the doorbell).

Tech Resume Skills:  Circuit building, safe care and use of a soldering iron and heat gun, through-hole soldering, wire splicing, basic electron theory,  structure of LEDs and transistors.

 

GadgetHeads Prep

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GadgetHeads Prep

This fun hands on workshop covers all the topics from the regular Gadget Heads program but in a simpler format. Learn about electricity, circuits,  magnetism and mechanics  by making a  rigged out cigar box house for your tiny “Power Pet”.  You'll also make a floating magnet sculpture and more.

Ages:  7-9

Screentime Rating: None

Tech Resume Skills: Intro to electricity, circuit building, safe care and use of a power drill and a heat gun.

Circuits Circuits

You know those cool hallway circuits where one switch turns on the hall light and the other turns it off - or back on? That's one of the many circuits you'll make this this fun hands-on workshop where you'll learn about the different switches and circuits that you use everyday.

You'll use through-hole soldering to make a mini keyboard, and splice various switching components to make a fun sampler of switches that show your mastery of various circuit building techniques.  You can use our circuit diagrams or design your own.

This project is based on the SwitchBox project from the book Snip, Burn, Solder Shred  by David Erik Nelson.  I highly recommend it for kids and adults!

Ages: 10 -14

Screentime Rating: None

Tech Resume Skills:  Circuit building, safe care and use of a soldering iron and heat gun, through-hole soldering, wire splicing, basic electron theory. You'll also gain a thorough understanding of the structure and use of electronic switches and components including resistors, capacitors and potentiometers. 

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Engine Heads

Engines are the coolest things ever and we have a lot of them here at the lab in various stages of disassembly.  They offer insights into important engineering topics like crankshafts (vertical to rotational motion),  the Venturi Effect,  cams, gears and more.

Ages: 9-14

Screentime Rating: None

Tech Resume Skills: an understanding of two vs four stroke engines,  internal vs external combustion engines, Stirling engines, steam engines,  mufflers, carburetors, Venturi Effect, crankshafts and more.

In this fun hands on workshop, you'll learn about different types of engines and will make a piston and cylinder model to take home. Wear old clothes because this workshop gets messy!

CodeHeads

Find a topic you’re passionate about and make an interactive museum exhibit that includes an animated  interactive quiz about your topic. Add an original animatronic model using our Hummingbird Robotics boards and your own imagination.

CodeHeads Prep: Make a Museum

Past exhibits  have featured medieval castles, fantasy creatures, sharks, bears, penquins, and other animals.  We’ll code our quiz in Scratch using drag and drop code blocks.   The Museum workshop is a great introduction to robotics and coding

When we’re done, we’ll invite family members and other campers to take the quiz and admire your work

Ages:  8 and Up

Screentime rating:  60%

Tech Resume Skills:  Block Coding, If-Then Statements, Intro to Controller Circuits

Digital Sandbox

CodeHeads Prep: Digital Sandbox

Our Digital Sandbox boards offer fun way to code circuits and learn key coding and engineering concepts by isolating put on light shows and make  game to test your reactions skills.  

Once you've gotten the hang of it well use the same digital sandbox to start typing our code, then we'll build some simple real world circuits and control them with typed code.  The Digital Sandbox is a great way to boost your coding skills up to the next level.

Ages:  9 and Up

Screentime rating:  80%

Tech Resume Skills: Analog vs Digital Cicuits, Inputs vs Outputs, Variables,

Pulse Width Modulation, If -Then Statements

CodeHeads Prep: Digital Sandbox

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Arduino Microcontroller with breadboard circuits

CodeHeads Intermediate:

Circuit Sampler

Our coded circuit  sampler is a low stakes entry into Physical Computing.  We’ll write small programs that make lights flash, motors spin and take input values from distance sensors and remote controls.  By breaking down each topic into a separate program,  you’ll get a chance to learn important coding tools without the pressure completing a complex project.  This is the perfect gateway to our more advanced coding workshops – and it’s really fun!

This workshop offers a great introduction to microcontrollers and prototyping boards.  You’ll borrow mine for this workshop so the material fees are minimal.

Ages:  11 and Up

Screentime rating:  80%

Tech Resume Skills: Analog vs Digital Cicuits, Inputs vs Outputs, Variables vs Constants, Pulse Width Modulation, If -Then Statements, Circuit building on Prototyping Board, functions  and Recursive Loops

 

CodeHeads Advanced: 

Ridiculous RC Robots

You'll make your remote control robot these robots ground up.  This is not a click together kit so each one is unique.  Your robots can self drive to avoid obstacles but will respond to the commands you send using an ordinary TV remote control. 

Once you get your robot working you'll add some personality by customizing your bot with art supplies and hacked toys.  You'll learn key concepts typical of a first year high school or college coding class but without the homework and with a lot more fun.

Ages:  11 and Up

Screentime rating:  40%

Tech Resume Skills: Analog vs Digital Circuits, Inputs vs Outputs, Variables, Constants, Functions, Pulse Width Modulation, If -Then Statements, Recursive loops,  Use of Geared and Servo motors, fabrication.

Note: We recommend taking at least one CodeHeads Prep workshop before this one. The Sampler is especially helpful. 

CodeHeads Advanced: 

Game Module

Make a 3 game module using an Arduino Microcontroller with  a prototype board to hold the circuits. This workshops has plenty of fabrication but the empahsis here is on the C++ coding language itself.

You'll dive deeper into all the coding topics covered in the Sampler and RC Robots workshops and will go a step further by learning about memory mangement and arrays.  You'll write and share your own code library with a keyword file that can include your name as a keyword or whatever you choose.

This workshop is great choice for a rising 8 or 9 grader who may want to take coding in high school.  All they key concepts will be covered here but without the homework.

Ages:  11 and Up

Screentime rating:  75%

Tech Resume Skills: Analog vs Digital Circuits, Inputs vs Outputs, Variables, Constants, Functions, Pulse Width Modulation, If -Then Statements, Recursive loops,  Use of Geared and Servo motors, fabrication

Cigar Box  Ukuleles and Amps

Build a concert scale ukulele,  make an amplifier for it, learn to play it, write some songs and leave camp a musician.

Gadget Lab is thrilled to have acclaimed author, songwriter and expert Uke player Mary Amato  as a guest instructor for this awesome Ukulele making camp.

The Ukes are beautiful,  easy to play and make a great first stringed instrument. Mary and I will help the kids make their instruments while they learn to play and even write their own songs.

And that's not all.  The kids will also make a beautiful cigar box amplifier that they can use with their electric ukuleles or any electric uke or guitar.

Ages: 9 and Up

Screentime Rating: 10% (Songwriting)

Tech Resume Skills:  Safe care and use of a power drill, precise measuring, clamping and gluing.   Ukulele playing and songwriting.

Arts and Design

Art with Claire

Ages: 9 and Up

Screentime Rating: 0 (if the workshop is in person)

Tech Resume Skills:  Use of water colors and pastels, collaging, zine making and publishing.

MUSIC DISCOVERY LAB