Maker Projects for Thanksgiving Break

Turkey-StatueAh, Thanksgiving. It’s the day to eat far too much turkey, take a break from school and work, and veg out in front of a football game for longer than you normally would.

There’s something to be said for taking advantage of that free time, though, to complete a project or do an activity that you don’t have time to do in your everyday life. As fans of manufacturing, we are strong advocates for using this extra-long weekend to practice your “making” skills. One of the incredible aspects of manufacturing is the chance to make something out of materials that are seemingly are incompatible.

Whether you’re a teacher, a student, or a parent, here are some projects that give you the chance to be your own “manufacturer” for the day. Plop down in front of the football game with these materials in hand, and see if there’s anything you particularly enjoy working on more than the other. This could give some insight into your manufacturing tendencies (and you’ll end up with a pretty cool project, too!)

Dark-Detecting LED: This is a classic beginner’s electronic project, rated as “easy” by Make magazine. Well, we have to disagree with that rating– if you have no experience with electronics, this could be trickier than you anticipate (if you have experience, it will absolutely be easy for you). With this project, you’ll build a simple light-sensing circuit that switches an LED on when the lights go out! Best of all, the project requires only five components: a battery, phototransistor, resistor, LED, and transistor. You can even upgrade the project by experimenting with ways to connect it to a solar panel! It’s pretty cool, but may take you around a few hours (experts) and days (beginners) to complete. If you love it? Electronics manufacturing could be a great fit for you.

3D Silhouette Light Box: There aren’t tons of steps to complete this project, but you’ll have an interesting result that can be hung anywhere in your home! First, you need a picture (either taken yourself or one you’ve found online) to use as a template. The inventor recommends photos with depth, like caves, forests, and valleys. You’ll need a photo editing program, cardstock, a knife, cardboard, glue, and some LED lights! Once your silhouette box is complete, it will glow and make a 3D image in silhouettes. You can use it for wall decoration, as a mood light, or even a nightlight in your child’s bedroom!

Decorative Halloween Tombstones: Okay, we know Halloween is over, but you can get a head start on next year and we thought this project was too fun not to mention. You can actually create tombstones that have the look of weathered stones to decorate your front yard or backyard when Halloween rolls around! You can decide on a shape and time period for the tombstones, although the most popular shape is a rectangle with a rounded top. Cut the shape out of styrofoam, and you can carve in additional details with something as simple as a hot glue gun. After applying paint, there are some awesome options for ways you can make it look legitimately weathered.

If none of these appeal to you, you can find a full list of projects here!

photo credit: timbu via photopin cc