A year of making


As we begin 2016, we thought it fitting to recount some of our favorite Maker Lounge moments from 2015. Look for future posts where we’ll share cool maker tips, tricks and ideas we’ve come across.


Ryan White working with students from Salem’s Phoenix School. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM.

Maker Lounge Takeovers

As you might recall, we said farewell to our first Maker in Residence, Ryan White, who worked with ideation and wearable technology, and welcomed our second Maker in Residence, David Yann Robert, who was also a featured artist in our Branching Out exhibition. David brought his work with speculative design, which featured robot designs by children in Boston and Russia, into the maker space and offered our audience the opportunity to design and create their own robots. What were some of the most popular robot features, you ask?  But of course, making food, candy and beverages of our choice, burning or completing homework and doing chores.


David Yann Roberts works with young makers. Photo by Kathy Tarantola/PEM


David Yann Robert listens to students explain their robot. Photo by Dinah Cardin


Ideas for robots. Instagram photo by David Yann Roberts @lifeforming

Week of Making


Salem artist James Eric Rogers, photo by Allison White

On June 18, 2014 the Day of Making was declared by President Obama and the White House Administration. This year they expanded the celebration to a Week of Making (June 12-18), which coincided with the National Maker Faire in Washington DC. As a nation of makers, DIY-ers, and tinkerers, the White House put out a call to ask any and all maker spaces, organizations and groups to participate in the Week of Making.


Photo courtesy of whitehouse.gov

Well, the Maker Lounge answered that call, offering four different programs during the Week of Making. Programs offered included a 3D printing demo with Formlabs, robot origami, LED graffiti and a Day of Making celebration with Salem artist James Eric Rogers. We had over 150 participants, some of whom came to all four programs. Wow!

Strandbeest Hackathon

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For those of you that tuned into our 24-hour Strandbeest Hackathon in September, you’ll know that we promised the winning team the exclusive opportunity for their piece to be installed in our Strandbeest exhibition, which closed Jan. 3. We were happy to announce in October the installation of Conduiticus Americanus, the winning beest created by the Hackathon team Mayors of Simpleton. This winning beest demonstrated how beests can reproduce locally. The team used American PVC piping, which is a lot thicker and rigid than the material that Theo Jansen uses, as well as zip ties. The end result of the Mayors of Simpleton’s hard work is a fully functioning and interactive leg system.


Mayors of Simpleton, courtesy photo composite

The Strandbeest Hackathon was a 24-hour design challenge that included eight participating teams, with various backgrounds and skills, as well as members ranging from ages 12-60+. The Hackathon featured two challenges developed by exhibition artist Theo Jansen, which focused on local reproduction and evolution of the beests. The teams had an opportunity to hear from Theo and ask him questions regarding the beests, received exclusive access to the exhibition and were provided with a range of materials and tools to complete the challenge. At the end of the 24 hours, each team was given an opportunity to pitch their creation to our team of judges, which was made up of Strandbeest enthusiast and PEM volunteer Sandy Adams, our first Maker Lounge Resident Ryan White and maker/fabricator Dano Wall from Adafruit.

To get a recap of the 24-hour Hackathon or to relive the experience, head over to HERE.


Shortly after the Strandbeest exhibition opened, we decided to rearrange our space and introduce a brand new design challenge: Linkages. Using materials like cardboard, chipboard, popsicle sticks and brads (aka brass fasteners), the goal of the activity was to make something that moves. We got the idea for this challenge from our friends at the Tinkering Studio at the Exploratorium. With a focus on motion, we thought the activity was a perfect tie-in with our Strandbeest exhibition. Check out the gallery below to see some of the stellar creations that were made!

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Mixed Methods: Clay vs. CAD

In December, Goddard Design and Engineering and the MIT Arts Department teamed up to demonstrate how ancient techniques for creating ceramics and contrasting methods of Computer-Aided Design (CAD) and 3-D printing can be used to produce the same results. In order for our audience to interact with both methods, we hosted the CAD portion of the drop-in activity in the Maker Lounge and the pottery portion in Studio 2. Each space had a live feed of what was occurring in the other room, so you could really see the contrast between the two methods.


Jay Pastorello, a ceramics instructor at MIT, offered guests the opportunity to try throwing on the pottery wheel, while also taking time to produce his own creations. Goddard Design and Engineering had three of their designers present; one of whom worked exclusively on the sculpture design that was developed in conversation with Jay (and was featured on the live feed). The other two designers showed some other pieces that had been discussed for the drop-in as well as some of the other projects they have been working on in CAD. Many visitors to the Maker Lounge got to learn some basic CAD tools for designing and check out Goddard’s Maker Bot.

The program was extremely successful, with over 100 visitors and participants. We look forward to working with Goddard Design and Engineering and Jay Pastorello in the future!

Looking Ahead

We have quite a bit in store for 2016, including adult workshops, drop-in activities and new design challenges. We will also be adding some new faces to our Maker Lounge team! For more information about the Maker Lounge, visit us online at pem.org/learn/maker_lounge or contact makerlounge@pem.org.



  1. Amy says:

    Last December I brought my students to PEM from Maine to see the Strandbeests. We spent some time exploring the linkages activity in the Maker Lounge, and used wonderful hole-punching tools on cardboard and popsicle sticks. Could you tell me where I might find that tool? I haven’t had any luck yet, and I’d love to have some in my classroom!

  2. Dinah Cardin
    Dinah Cardin says:

    Hi Amy,

    Will check on this for you!

  3. Dinah Cardin
    Dinah Cardin says:

    Our Maker Lounge people said this: We just purchased heavy duty hole punches via Amazon. They are also available at AC Moore and similar craft stores. The brand we often use is ‘We R Memory Keepers,’ but ‘Darice’ is also a good brand.

  4. Amy says:

    Perfect! Thank you.

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