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Upcoming Workshops at Parts and Crafts!

PLOTS Toolshed Raising: MBTA edition!

Sunday April 6, 12-4 pm
Where: Ricky’s Flower Market / Parts and Crafts
577 Somerville Ave, Somerville MA
Cost: Free / by donation

A full day of mapping with the Public Lab for Open Science and Technology! We’ll head down to Union Square at noon to photograph the future MBTA Green Line site. This map shows the seven possible development lots, as well as the future site for the MBTA station. This article has a pretty solid overview of the proposed redevelopment plan, as well as timelines for when they’re supposed to start building. Free / by donation, all are welcome!

Meeting place for balloon mapping: Ricky’s Flower Market
238 Washington Street, Somerville MA 02143. Ricky’s Flower Market has graciously agreed to host us. Parking is available across the street @ SCATV. If you’d like to join us for mapping at noon, this is where you should go!

Post-mapping meetup @ Parts & Crafts!
577 Somerville Ave, Somerville MA 02143. We’ll also have some folks back at Parts and Crats to get people situated who want to work on non-mapping projects. At around 2 pm, the mapping crew will head back to do some image processing, order pizza, and hopefully get started on our map!

Wednesday Early Release @ Brooklyn Boulders
April 9, 12:30 – 5:30 pm
Cost: $30/session ($20 for CSCL members)

Join us for a full day of physical activity! Skating from 12:30 – 2 at Veteran’s Memorial Skating Rink, then head down to Brooklyn Boulders for an afternoon of rock climbing! Cost for the whole day is $30, which covers equipment rental, staff, and group admission to Brooklyn Boulders.

Mineways @ Parts and Crafts
Saturday April 12, 1-3 pm
Cost: $10-20 suggested sliding scale

A 3D printing workshop using Minecraft to make models. Along the way you’ll learn how 3D printing works, how objects get sent to the printer, and what the rules are for this way of making things. We’ll also print 3D models made in Minecraft before your eyes, and show you how to make 3D models for prints yourself, even if you don’t own a 3D printer.

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vacation week

Enrollment is open for April Vacation Week!

When: April 21-25, 9 – 3 pm
Where: 577 Somerville Ave, Somerville MA
Who: kids 7 – 13
Cost: $75-300, sliding scale (add $25 for early care, $50 for late care)

What is April vacation camp?

A whole week of invention and creation! We’ll have our electronics workbench, art table, a bunch of hand-tools, building supplies, scrap materials, air pumps, hot glue, duct tape, etc. Printers will be taken apart, bread will be baked, LEDs and motors will be glued to things, there may very well be giant cardboard sculptures. Who knows?

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The Riffle Effect

Public Lab’s New Pilot Water Monitoring Sensor Tool


By definition, a riffle is a “short, relatively shallow and coarse-bedded length of stream over which the stream flows at higher velocity and higher turbulence than it normally does in comparison to a pool.” Similarly, Public Lab is making waves in the DIY and hacker community when it comes to creating tools for environmental exploration and investigation.

Last weekend, I attended a Public Lab “toolshed raising” event in Somerville, MA, wherein local community members come to learn more about the organization, get a demo of their current tools, and work together on projects. There, the Public Lab team announced RIFFLE (Remote Independent Friendly Field-Logger Electronics) (support it here), a new pilot program and tool to monitor the water quality in Mystic River.  I’m constantly impressed by the tools they develop (including a DIY spectrometry kit, balloon mapping kit, and modified infrared camera), which all follow the same credo: they are low cost, open source, and easy to build/maintain. At the event, Ben Gamari, one of the RIFFLE developers, expressed the core philosophy of making these tools accessible: “It has to just work.”

Read the full post at www.scistarter.com

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PLOTS Toolshed Raising was great!

Thanks to everyone who came out! We had a headcount of 25+, with the day covering tool intros, a presentation on Riffle, and open work periods with several working groups forming around water temperature mapping, aerial thermal camera flight planning, a RPi “nozzleCam” for our new Makerbots, etc. Check it out!

Riffle Presentation

The Riffle, presented by donface.gif:

A big crowd:

The Riffle team making plans:

Mary Martin, UNH researcher making visualizations for Riffle:

Thermal Mapping brainstorming:

members of Sara’s Northeastern Research Group
From left: Sara, Devra, Max

From left: Liz, Lauren

Parts and Crafts!
From left: Will MacFarlane, Patrick Herron (of Mystic River Watershed Association), Denise Provost (our district’s state representative), and Katie Gradowski.


Kieran and Ethan on Design Squad

    Showing us how it’s done!


    Enrollment is open for February camp!

    • February Vacation Camp! February 17-21, 9-3 pm. A whole week of invention and creation! We’ll have our electronics workbench, art table, a bunch of hand-tools, building supplies, scrap materials, air pumps, hot glue, duct tape, etc. Printers will be taken apart, bread will be baked, LEDs and motors will be glued to things, there may very well be giant cardboard sculptures. Who knows? We don’t know exactly what’ll happen, but we promise it will be fun, and amazing! Open to kids age 7-13. Cost: $75-300/week, sliding scale, with early and late care available.
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Slow Times at Parts and Crafts

Amazing pictures with slow-motion camera, jello, water balloons, and joyful flailing humans!

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Girls Invention Week Rocks!

It was an amazing week of stilt-making, table and box design, dropping eggs, launching water balloons, crafting giant looms and tiny pillows, getting lost on the longest hike we’ve ever been on, and hosting a fantastic end-of-camp talent show.

We had an all-time high of 40 kids who came to camp last week — a first for Parts and Crafts, and more than double the number who signed up for the session last year (for more on what we did over the course of the week, see pictures below)

Working on mosaics

Scratch Day!

Carbonating ginger ale with dry ice

Building a loom out of a bed frame


Girls Invention Week rocks!

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updates of the past, TODAY!

Fun pictures of stuff we did at camp!

Lemon batteries

Building robot armor to pilot vehicles of the future

Darth Vader finishes a Rubik’s Cube in under 3 minutes

Consecrating the mandala

Sand explosion!

Cambridge Science Festival!


Camp is wrapping up for the summer! Ten weeks never went by so fast — between the motorized bikes, the popcorn sales, the mushroom hunts, and the restaurant, it’s been quite a summer!

A few things to mention! For kids and parents who are excited to see what we’ve been up to, we’ve started a list of “project pages.” We also have a flickr feed (partsandcrafts), if you want to check it out. Due to an unfortunate incident with the camp phone (photography: helium balloon) we’re missing a chunk from the middle of the summer — piano takeapart, sadly, is consigned to memory — but we’ve got some pretty great photos of popcorn sale, mechanisms, worldbuilding, squirt guns, mushrooms, marimbas, and other assorted goodness.

Note to parents: If there are images you’d like to have privatized please let us know. Right now all images of people are under full copyright (i.e. not for reuse) but are publicly posted — mostly so you all can see them! That said, it’s easy for us to change the setting.

We’re doing some stuff in the fall, some of which is starting very soon! “Stuff” includes: classes! workshops! afterschool! We’ll be doing an electronics class, an Arduino workshop, and an invention class with Terry Murray the Inventor Mentor — as well as an afterschool program, every Friday at Parts and Crafts! If you’re looking for fun stuff to do in the off hours, we encourage you to check us out.

Last but not least: workshops! CSEs have been on hiatus this summer, but now that summer’s wrapping up we have a lot of great new ideas for projects. Expect the next kits in mid-September — we’ll be working on them over the next few weeks and sending out an invitation for a build party at some point over the next month. We’ll also be doing periodic build parties. The best way to find out about these is by signing up for our mailing list — which you can do by clicking on the right-hand link on this page!

PVC catapult!


A vision of the future!

Oscar Archimedes, the youngest and cutest member of the parts and crafts collective.

say hi to the youngest member of Parts and Crafts!

He’s not ours, but he sure is cute. Congratulations to Jeff and Beth on the newest member of their family!


Parts and Crafts is looking for workshop leaders!

Do you build Rube Goldberg machines? Make pies? Hack cameras to study plant photosynthesis? Build catapults? Fold kinetic origami? LIke to take things apart? If so, we’d love to talk to you!

We’re actively looking for people with cool skills, awesome projects, and community-based research initiatives to collaborate and work with during our summer programs. If you’re in Boston and want to get involved, drop us an email at contact@partsandcrafts.org.


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Parts and Crafts — website migration

Hi all!  We are currently migrating data from our old sort-of-custom blogging engine to Wordpress.  There will be information up here shortly.  Bear with us as we join the 21st century.

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