3D printing, robotics, ironworking, fun hacking, coding time… At camp or in the fablabs, it’s a DiY summer for budding makers.
Minimakers can also go on DiY vacations, whether at a themed summer camp, an American-style maker camp or a specialized program in a fablab. Let Makery be your guide. Many fablabs, as well as independent organizations, are offering workshops and summer programs to occupy your restless tinker tots.
Still fledgling in France, the U.S. Maker Camp movement has taken root all over the rest of Europe.
Maker Camps are like open-air spaces for budding makers that combine an online program and group activities around the world of fablabs, makerspaces, hackerspaces or even libraries. The concept of this initiative managed by Maker Media (the same company behind the Maker Faire brand) is to offer teens aged 12 to 18 a different themed activity each week: Farmstead (sustainable development, July 20-24), Fun & Games (July 27-31), Flight (aeronautics, August 3-7) and Far-Out Future (August 10-14).
Several Maker Camps are being held in Europe. It’s free to participate in the program, but some local camps may ask for a contribution.
Register and locate camps on Maker Camp
Camps in North America
For makers who will be spending their summer vacation in the U.S. or Canada, a number of camps for children are being held all summer long, generally themed.
Galileo Camps. In California, Galileo Camps offer activities that combine art, science and nature from late June to late August. Developed in collaboration with Maker Education Initiative (“Every Child a Maker”), they rely on collective creativity and innovation.
More info on Galileo Camps website
Examples of projects developed at a Galileo Camp:
Digital Harbor Maker Camp in Baltimore. Through late August, Digital Harbor Foundation is holding two-week camps for apprentice designers, filmmakers and video game programmers. Registration fees are pay-as-you-wish.
Registration on Digital Harbor Maker Camp website
Makerkids. In Toronto, Makerkids, a unique makerspace for kids, offers camps and programs all summer. Introduction to Arduino, 3D printing or laser-cutting, woodworking, Minecraft or Scratch video game programming, robotics… The catalogue is dense and the schedule is full.
Catalogue and registration on Makerkids website
Example of a workshop at Makerkids in Toronto:
Techno summer camps in France
The golden age of French summer camps is no more. Too expensive, offering little social diversity, they entertain less than 7.5% of children (compared to 15% in 1995). In an effort to stimulate interest, they tend to specialize, especially in tech activities and DIY. But they still operate (and charge) like traditional summer camps.
Robocamp (Obernai, Alsace)
Organized by Vitacolo, I-Robot summer camp is preparing its Olympic Games of robotics. Kids compete with each other in teams on an obstacle course for machines that they build at camp. Unsurprisingly, the cost matches the spectacle: 850 euros for two weeks, not including transportation. For ages 10-14. July 19-31.
More info on Vitacolo website
Specialty: robots, video games (France)
Robots are popular, and so are video games. Themed camps specialized in robots or video games are organized by Telligo throughout France for children aged 10 to 13 all summer long. But they don’t come cheap: robot camp starts at 599 euros, which can go up to 899 euros for 10 days in August. There are also video-game themed camps (for ages 11-14) specialized in retrogaming, introduction to Game Maker and Makey Makey to make your own controller using odd objects (aluminum, bananas, pencils, spoon).
More info about camps on Telligo
Kids’ activities in the labs
The labs that remain open through August offer a few activities for marginalized children during the long summer vacation. For a membership or a special rate, activities range from exploring the fablab to more or less hardcore coding or hacking.
Little Hackers (Brest)
For children aged 8-12, Les Petits Hackers offer computer and electronics workshops at Les Fabriques du Ponant, every Saturday morning and afternoon, including in summer. Learn how to program and pilot robots, print in 3D or write small programs under GNU/Linux.
Schedule of workshops on Maison du Libre 29 website
Summer programs at ICI Montreuil (Montreuil)
For children aged 4-9, ICI Montreuil makerspace offers multi-activity one-week programs: graffiti, stenciling, customizing t-shirts, sewing, 3D printing and electronics, building robots. Bonus studio visits of the makers-in-residence to discover various artisanal techniques. The first session was held in early July. Contact ICI Montreuil for the schedule of upcoming sessions. 150 euros (+tax) for a 30-hour program.
More info on ICI Montreuil website
Drones and electronics workshops at Lorem fablab (Paris)
Specialized in drones and other flying objects, this Paris-based fablab offers sessions especially for kids all year round, every Wednesday and Saturday from 2 PM to 6 PM and every day during school holidays. An annual registration fee of 100 euros gives access to all workshops. Registration fee for 1 workshop per year: 30 euros. A la carte: 10 euros per hour.
More info on Lorem fablab website
Little tacklers (Lannion)
Just opened this summer, Lannion fablab and Les Petits Débrouillards are holding two workshops for kids aged 8-12. These mini courses on electricity and tinkering explain how switches work, as well as how to create electricity with… bananas. The first session will be held on July 15-17 from 2 PM to 7 PM. The second will be held in August. Fees: 36 euros for 3 days + 20 euros for membership (valid for the whole family). Note: Registration is limited to 10 participants per session.
More info and registration on Les Petits Débrouillards website
AV.Lab for Kids (Strasbourg)
Every other Wednesday, including in July, the AV.Lab fablab holds themed workshops for parents/children: tinkering for fun, dino-robots and other electronic toys. Note that the lab will be closed in August. The rest of the year, AV.Lab holds a monthly 2-hour workshop for children. Fees vary according to the workshop, free for the parents.
More info on AV.Lab website
La Machinerie (Amiens)
In July, La Machinerie fablab is holding 3D printing beginner workshops every Thursday and Friday starting from 5:30 PM. Kids are welcome. Fee: 15 euros for 1.5 hours. Note that the lab will be closed in August.
Schedule of workshops on La Machinerie website
La Paillasse Saône (Villeurbanne)
On August 3-7, La Paillasse Saône is holding a workshop on connected objects for kids aged 11-15. They will learn how to prototype with electronics using the smart building blocks of Littlebits.
More info on La Paillasse Saône’s calendar
Other workshops for maker kids
Circuit bending, coding time, ironworking… Independent spaces are also offering a number of summer activities for future makers.
Introduction to ironworking, alternative creative center Le Chêne (Villejuif)
At a suburban park outside Paris in Villejuif, two blacksmiths, David and Camille, share their art and their equipment with children aged 7 and older. The workshop is free, and even the forge is homemade—coal (ore) makes sparks, which are fanned by the fans of a hacked electric stove. Camille trained an art ironworker, while David learned by doing. As for the kids, they fearlessly work the iron, bending the metal to form the letters of their names.
The workshop is held every Sunday afternoon, usually at Le Chêne, a participatory space in Villejuif, Val-de-Marne near Paris.
More info on Le Chêne website.
Coding time (throughout France)
All around France, Coding goûters are organized by groups of parents to introduce coding to children aged 5-7 and have fun with the older kids. During these laid-back afternoons, the kids learn to program with Scratch, create their own games on tablets with Loliplop, and eat candy. Coding goûters depends on the availability of the parents. As of writing, none has been announced for this summer. To be continued…
Dates and more info on Coding goûter wiki
Glitches and circuit bending at Rurart (Rouillé, Vienne)
For kids aged 8-12, Rurart, an art center within an agricultural high school in the little village of Vienne, offers a course on the basics of circuit bending, or “the art of intentionally short-circuiting battery-operated electronics (instruments, household appliances, etc) in order to produce unexpected, new and original sounds”. In short, have fun hacking Atari consoles into low-tech audio amps. Register on Wednesday afternoons, from 5 euros.
Circuit bending demo during a Rurart workshop:
More info on Rurart website
For tinkering at home with your family, several websites offer resources including tutorials, advice on acquiring equipment and useful contact lists:
Know of other fablab activities for young people this summer? Don’t hesitate to let us know about them in the comments below!