MakerFestival Takeaways


Last week I attended the Toronto Maker Festival at the Toronto Reference Library.  It was an awesome event!  I saw lots of really cool innovative projects!  Here are two that I found I could use right away!

Make-it yourself Microscope

One of the many ideas that really impressed me was this make-it-yourself microscope which would be useful in any elementary classroom.  A personable gentleman (whose name I did not write down–If you are that guy, please let me know so I can give you credit here!) showed us how he created one using the instructions on (a great website) and a few inexpensive materials.

Microscope iphone

Why this is an awesome project:

  • gets students reading instructions (with visual aids)
  • gets students measuring (though I would ensure an adult drills the holes)
  • gets kids collaborating with a partner
  • gets students making something that they will use throughout the school year and that will encourage discovery

Here’s the video I took using the contraption and my iPhone:

Here are the instructions from

What I would modify from the original: Many classrooms use iPads, it would be really neat to have groups of students re-make the template and edit the instructions to fit an iPad.  There could be a vote on the best revised instructions & dimensions and the materials could be bought after the winning design was selected.  This means more thinking, problem-solving, math, and writing!  This might be a great way to collaborate with a woodworking class too!

Rethink the Box Workshop

This was a workshop I attended facilitated by Sharon Moscovitz, Shaun Grant, and Ray Mercer. We were put in groups and asked to create a mechanism that would get our creature across a platform in the dark without touching the ground.  We were given a variety of items in a box which we could use to create our mechanism.  I was in a triad with my husband (also an educator) and an Engineer.  You would think that we would have created the best prototype ever?  Not a chance!  An 8-year old outsmarted us all and our contraption did NOT work!

Why this is an awesome activity:

  • promotes problem solving, creativity and critical thinking
  • promotes planning, testing a hypothesis, rethinking and retesting
  • showcases that there are many different ways to approach a problem
  • it’s fun!


Sharon, Shaun, and Ray are very willing to share their resources.  Check them out at  I can’t wait to try this with teachers and students in my District.


Leave a Reply