Author Archives: allamericangirl2016

Printing and Gadgets Were Never This Exciting (and Inexpensive!)


Block Printing and More! at West Seattle Tool Library

Block Printing and More! at West Seattle Tool Library

If you’re looking for something active and artistic to do with your family this summer, come stop by the Seattle Mini Maker Faire this June 8th and 9th! This faire will feature several projects that will allow you to experiment with all kinds of material in order to make that perfect gadget or toy.

For example, at the project, “Block Printing and More,” adults and children will be able to make their own artwork and buttons using handmade woodblocks! Also, while other adults and children are busy crafting away, you can even get a chance to take a tour of West Seattle Tool Library’s mobile tool lending trailer, where you can “learn more about the concept of tool lending libraries and some of the various programs, workshops and a sampling of what our members have created. Some featured items on display include a solar powered chicken coup, automated slide duplicator, beer making equipment and a multiple firing paper rocket launcher!” says Greg Kono, representative of West Seattle Tool Library. This is the perfect opportunity to learn about what tool markets can provide you with as well as make some sustainable, useful, and fun creations of your own!

Pop and Print! Book

Pop and Print! Book

If you like books, come check out “Pop and Print!” “This is a walk-in project where tools, materials, and templates will be provided to make a small, one page book or pop-up card, and all materials will be from recycled books, magazines, paper and other found materials, and it’s extremely family friendly!” says Amber Chiozza of Pop and Print.  The workshop will cover accordion fold books, basic pop-up structures, and tunnel books, and is a fantastic way to create unique styles of books or cards using the handy pop-up structural technique!

Finally, for those of you who love to play with your gadgets and toys, come visit “Smarthinks,” where you will be able to create your own toys for under ten dollars each! Experiment with designing such toys as “Safe Flamethrowers,” Folding Travel Ukuleles, Water-Squirting Harry Potter Wands, and Singing Best Friend Rings among others. If you’re the hands-on, off-beat creative type with several zany and wonderful ideas, this is the place you need to check out!

Whether you’re the artsy literature type, the daring, off-beat creative type, or, you simply love to build things, come visit the Seattle Mini Maker Faire tomorrow and Sunday from 10am-6pm! It has something for everyone to enjoy and you won’t leave feeling disappointed!

Come Visit Hacker Scouts at Seattle Mini Maker Faire!

Busy Participants at the Hacker Scouts Booth

Busy Participants at the Hacker Scouts Booth

Catherine Seitz Nichols

June 4, 2013

Why Hacker Scouts?

I’ve been asked why I decided to get involved with Hacker Scouts instead of a traditional scouting organization.  Originally, I was inspired to start a group in Seattle called the Geek Scouts, but after participating in last year’s Seattle Mini Maker Faire, I soon found out that there was far more interest than I expected.

We decided to join forces with the newly formed Hacker Scouts, based in Oakland, California because they developed a well thought-out program that perfectly aligned with our ideals and values that appeals to a wide age-range of kids with different learning styles and abilities.

When considering what kind of group I want my family to be involved in, it was very important to me that it be an organization that is open to all children and family members.  Hacker Scouts is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, disability, or religion in their educational programs and activities.

While I am happy to see that the Boy Scouts are now allowing gay kids to participate, excluding gay parents sends the message that there is something wrong with them, and that they are not equal.  Personally, I feel that participating in the group would be condoning discrimination.

I also wanted to participate in a co-ed group where girls had the same opportunities as boys.  My father was an Eagle Scout, and he and my older brothers were active in the Boy Scouts.  After a few weeks as a Brownie in the Girl Scouts, I soon discovered to my dismay that they did not have the same types of exciting projects that the boys did, such as the Pinewood Derby.  I wasn’t interested in cooking or crafts, so I quit (for the record, I think the Girl Scouts organization has come a long way since then, and has a lot more to offer girls today).

I want to be a part of a group that values diversity, not just tolerates it.  Diversity is strength in nature and in communities.  Collaboration and cooperation are key to success in science, technology and art.  I’ve seen what these values can do in the Hacker and Maker communities in Seattle, and I believe drawing on inspiration and talent from all quarters can only make for a stronger organization and richer experience.

When our kids grow up, no matter what career path they chose, they will be encountering and working with people of different sexes, beliefs and backgrounds.  Beginning this process at an early age makes this a natural part of life.

Hacker Scouts is inspired by the Open Source movement and ideology.  Sharing knowledge leads to faster progress, and deeper learning.  Having access to a group of mentors who are knowledgeable in many different areas is a powerful asset, and we would like to bring that opportunity to as many kids who are interested as we can.  We are actively looking for ways to involve families from economically and socially diverse communities, and would welcome any support in that goal.

Another point that impressed me about the Hacker Scouts program is that is a STEAM-based program, where art has a place right alongside science and technology.  Artistic endeavors inspire creative thinking, and technical know-how helps bring creative ideas to fruition.  Our society has divided these two areas of knowledge erroneously.

There is science behind all art, and having a background and familiarity with artistic concepts and ideas can greatly enhance science and technology.  Critical thinking and creativity make for a more balanced, productive and joyful life.

And last on this list, but first in importance is the goal of having fun.  Making and learning together with my family is my favorite activity.  The journey to get an alternative scouting group going in Seattle was inspired by how much fun I’ve had making projects with my son, and how excited he was when his dad taught him to solder at Metrix with an electronics kit from Spark Fun.

Seeing parents and kids working together at our Open Labs has been hugely rewarding.  While the program may not be right for every kid, any kid who is motivated and interested can find support for their ideas and help along the path to their goals.

We are currently holding bi-monthly Open Labs at Metrix Create:Space in Capitol Hill before we begin the formal Hacker Scouts program, and having a few off-site activities this summer.

The program is geared to kids ages 8 and up, but we have activities available for younger kids, and the Hacker Scouts are in the process of putting together a program for kids 5-7 called Sparks, which is expected to be released this fall.  Because there has been so much interest, we are also planning on expanding to the Eastside and North of Seattle soon.

We had a great time meeting local families at the Seattle Mini Maker Faire last year, and are looking forward to meeting more this year.  Families that are interested in learning more about Hacker Scouts can stop by our booth to meet some of kids and parents involved, and make a fun hands-on project.


Hacker Scouts Home Base:

Seattle Hacker Scouts Blog:

Seattle Hacker Scouts Facebook Page:

Seattle Hacker Scouts email:

Metrix Create:Space

Turn Old Into New and Improved at the Seattle Mini Maker Faire!

Earthship Seattle

Earthship Seattle

wTrak Wooden Railway

wTrak Wooden Railway

Ever think about productive ways we can use (or save!) the earth’s resources? Wood, water, soil, or even what you may consider to be “junk?” Believe it or not, this “junk” can be used to make some pretty sustainable (and fun!) items, such as alternative housing or even model transportation! If you ever need new ideas about what to do with your old stuff, the Seattle Mini Maker Faire will provide you with endless inventive ideas!

For instance, come check out Earthship Seattle,, a nonprofit volunteer group that designs earthships, or environmentally friendly houses made from recycled materials and  natural resources. “These earthships are really phenomenal because they use no fossil fuels, and they have essentially everything you need right in your house- they heat themselves, they use recycled clean water from the earth, and can be used for food production, so you can get basic life necessities of shelter, heat, food and water right from your home at a decently affordable price, made in a sustainable way” explains Florian Becquerau, member of Earthship Seattle. “We really want to promote these Earthships because they are an affordable means of off-the grid housing that can help low-income families and have proven to help third-world citizens, they help the environment, they are fairly quick to make if one utilizes lots of people, and they are made to last up to 100 years. We think that this is a practical housing alternative and we would love to share our knowledge and expertise with any fairgoers.” Whether you’re living on a budget or don’t know how to put your old stuff to good use, Earthship Seattle will provide you with a wealth of information to make sustainable use of what you have, and it can hopefully last you a lifetime!

On another note, if you or child you know loves to play with toys, or loves to experiment with model transportation, then come check out the wTrak Modular Wooden railway, which uses a wooden train surrounded by fabric trees and LED lighting for subways, tunnels, and surrounding buildings! Featured in several shows in the Pacific Northwest, this wooden railway is a beautiful model that is intricately built, and definitely worth a look if you love transportation, building things, or are just looking for a clever way to use wood!

The Seattle Mini Maker Faire offers several unique projects that will allow you turn anything you have into a sustainable and practical innovation or a beautiful aesthetic masterpiece! Come by June 8th and 9th from 10am-6pm and see what these nifty projects can inspire you to turn your stuff into!

Learning is Social, Artistic and Fun at Seattle Mini Maker Faire!


Code For Seattle



Are you interested in shapes? Do you love colors, math or geography? Finally, do you enjoy the new phenomenon in technology of 3-D? Then come check out the  Seattle Mini Maker Faire, where amazing makers have produced projects using these shapes, colors, and 3-D technique to make creative achievements in mathematics, geography, and art! First, come check out “ITSPHUN”, a project that “lets you experiment with a system of geometric shapes that will allow you to make anything you want, whether it’s an exotic flower, a hat, tessalations of gyrobifastigiums, or anything in between! Not only will you get to be artistic, but you will get to learn basic concepts of geometry along the way!” says project creator Mircea Draghicescu. A wonderful intersection of mathematics and art, this project provides a variety of shapes and colors that will allow you to create whatever your heart desires! This is the perfect playground for abstract and artistic thinkers and creators.

Next, for the more geographically inclined, come visit “Seattle Wiki ”of Code For Seattle, a project that will allow you to explore  and learn about Seattle right at your fingertips-literally! People can add and edit pages on the wiki while also getting to see how close items on the wiki are to them, especially since creator Seth Vincent will be “representing data from the city of Seattle in a physical space, where participants will be able to check out 3-D bar graphs and a map of the city made out of LED’s !” exclaims Code for Seattle’s Seth Vincent.  It’s a great way to explore your city and learn about Washington State right at your fingertips-literally. Come by and check out this geographic masterpiece of Seattle, inventively meshing the physical and virtual world! Prepare to be amazed!

Finally, if you just want to take a break from interactive learning and just have some fun, the “Sassy Chessboard” will give you the opportunity to do just that, providing entertainment as it makes a “sassy comment” via twitter for every move you make! Created from 3-D printing and controlled by an arduino, this chessboard uses clever magnets and sensors that interface with a web server to display every move on the chessboard’s website and twitter account. If you’re a chess pro, and are looking for a more social and artistic way to play a chess game with your friends, this is the game for you!

The Seattle Mini Maker Faire features several innovative projects that combine clever technologies, art, geography and mathematics that allow you to learn unique, interesting things about the world and explore new pastimes or hobbies! A hub for amazing intellectual experiences and creative social opportunities, the faire is a great way to broaden your minds and bond with your friends! Come visit this Saturday and Sunday, June 8th and 9th from 10am-6pm!