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 three primary categories: GadgetHeads, CodeHeads, 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 so kids can keep track of what they've learned. They can use this resume for summer job applications or for bragging to the relatives.
Circuits and Engineering
Our circuits and engineering workshops offers fun hands-on activities that teach about the world of circuits and their components. We take a close look at the ordinary objects around us and learn how they work. We learn about motors, circuits and batteries then make our own robots in the CodeHeads workshops.
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 components of robots- by making cool projects like a spinny motor, a doorbell for your room, a cool copper flashlight.
You'll learn to use a heat gun and a soldering iron to make circuits 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.
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.
Screentime Rating: None
Tech Resume Skills: Intro to electricity, circuit building, safe care and use of a power drill and a heat gun.
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 components to make a fun sampler of switches that show your mastery of different 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, through-hole soldering, wire splicing, basic electron theory, the safe care and use of a power drill, a soldering iron and a heat gun. You'll also gain a thorough understanding of the structure and use of electronic switches and components including resistors, capacitors and potentiometers.
Advanced Circuits With Rustom Meyer
In this engaging advanced circuit building workshop you'll draw your own circuits, convert them to an actual a circuit diagram, then build them on a breadboard before soldering them on to a through hole perf board. You can also make your own switches.
Instructor Rustom Meyer is a trained engineer who has been teaching at Gadget Lab almost since its inception. He's a terrific instructor and his workshops are always popular.
This camp is a great follow up to Circuits Circuits.
Screen Time Rating: 10% (drawing circuits online)
Tech Resume Skills: Circuit Building, Circuit Diagrams, Through Hole Soldering, Wire Splicing, Basic Electron Theory, Digital vs Analog Circuits, Inputs vs Outputs
Circuits and Engineering
Coding and Robotics
Our CodeHeads workshops use both drag and drop code blocks and typed code to make things happen in the physical world. You'll make lights flash, motors spin and can even make music using a buzzer.
Our projects are built around age appropriate projects that use the same coding techniques you'd learn in a high school or college course but with an emphasis on coding circuits so you'll have time with your eyes off the screen as you make something fun.
Make A Museum
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. 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.
As part of our research, we discuss reputable sources of online information and how to safely use the internet.
When we’re done, we’ll invite family members and other campers to take the quiz and admire your work.
Screentime Rating: 50%
Tech Resume Skills: Block Coding, If-Then Statements, Intro to Controlled Circuits, Animatronic Fabrication
Reuse: Cardboard, Fabric Scraps, Buttons
Note: This workshop uses typed coding and is suitable for kids with a strong interest in writing code.
Using a mini computer and hacked toys, you'll make a remote control robot from the 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 toy parts. You'll learn key concepts typical of a first year high school or college coding class but without the homework.
This camp has been a favorite for years at Gadget Lab. You'll learn key principles of coding and circuit building while making something that is both ridiculous and fun.
Screentime rating: 50%
Tech Resume Skills: Analog vs Digital Circuits, Inputs vs Outputs, Variables, Constants, Functions, Pulse Width Modulation, If -Then Statements, Recursive loops, Binary and Hexidecimal Numbers, Use of Geared and Servo Motors, Fabrication Skills.
Reuse: Remote Controls, Acrylic from TVs and Monitors for the Chassis, Old toys for the robot's character.
C++ Game Module
Instructor: Karen Giacopuzzi
No Material Fee*
Note: This is a half day camp.
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 emphasis here is on the C++ coding language itself.
You'll dive deeper into all the coding topics covered in our other coding workshops and will go a step further by learning about memory management 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 student who may want to take coding in high school. All the key concepts will be covered here but without the homework.
*Note: There are no material fees associated with this workshop. If the student wants to take their project home the cost will be an additional $20. They can make that decision at the end of camp.
Ages:12 and Up
Screentime rating: 75%
Tech Resume Skills: Analog vs Digital Circuits, Inputs vs Outputs, Global vs Local Variables, Constants, Functions, Conditionals, the Mod, Binary Numbers function, Libraries and Key Words
Note: If you're younger than 13 we highly recommend you take at least one other coding workshop before this one
Arts and Design
At Gadget Lab we see no reason to separate the worlds of Art and Science. The science of sound, the joy of making music and the thrill of crafting a working instrument all belong under the same roof. We also include art and design made by hand and by digital tools. Check out our workshops below and come back because we keep adding more.
Electric Ukes and Amps
Build a concert scale ukulele, make an amplifier for it, learn to play it, write some songs, 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.
Screentime Rating: 10% (Songwriting)
Tech Resume Skills: Safe care and use of a power drill, precise measuring, clamping and gluing. Ukulele playing and songwriting.
Sound and Circuits
“Music Discovery Lab is an interactive workshop that offers students a unique opportunity to create and explore sound through guided experimentation in a fun and casual environment. Drum instructor and veteran musician Jason Mullinax will discuss the properties of sound, demonstrate a variety of homemade percussion and electronic instruments and then will teach students how to build the instruments for themselves! During this week-long course, students will make and take home an electrified spring box and a small DIY amplifier plus the knowledge of how to play them in creative ways.
With a primary goal of unleashing creativity and fostering experimentation, Music Discovery Lab is appropriate for students of all musical backgrounds; no experience is necessary.”
Ages: 11 -14
Screentime Rating: 0 (if the workshop is in person)
Tech Resume Skills: Percussion skills, a basic understanding the science of sound, safe care and use of a power drill, a heat gun and a soldering iron
2D and 3D Design
Learn the basics of 2D design tools as you make your own orginal logo or message, then use our two computerized vinyl cutters to create products like paper cutouts, vinyl stickers, and more. You can use our professional heat press to put your design on a tote bag, a shirt or even an apron.
With our 3D printers you'll make an original structure of your own invention with a motion activated light. You can also make a 3D printed key chain and rubber stamp of your logo.
Screen Time Rating: 50%
Tech Resume Skills: Turtle Art for Coding Designs, Introduction to Inkscape/Adobe Illustrator, Use of a vinyl cutter, heat press and 3D printer. Care and safe use of a soldering iron and heat gun. Basic Circuit building.