STEAM Lab at Tūranga

It’s been a fun and interesting fourth term of STEAM Lab at Tūranga! What's STEAM Lab, you might ask? Great question! STEAM Labs are a fantastic blend of sciences and creativity, and is an acronym for S- science; T- technology; E- engineering; A- arts; M- mathematics.

What it means for after school clubs is that you get to be innovative and creative, while learning and making really cool things using different technologies. This can range anywhere from newer resources, like 3D printing and coding, all the way to more traditional ones, like sewing and pattern making– the sky's the limit. 

The final term of our STEAM Lab this year centered somewhat abstractly on Minecraft, and branched out into a range of different skills and technologies.

The term started off with the STEAMers designing their own Minecraft character using laser cut ‘Steve’ templates, to help them think about designing custom Minecraft skins using the software BlockBench.

The next step was to kit out their figures with ‘elytra’ capes (a cape in Minecraft that lets you fly). This was a multi-step process that included some fun and traditional creative sciences– naturally dyeing fabrics, pattern making, sewing and experiment design.

With the help of the Tūranga staff and our own Foundation Cafe, all who donated their avocado skins and stones and onion skins, we were able to make orange dye (using the onions) and a pinky-apricot dye (using the avocado waste). 

Our STEAMers designed their own science experiment around fabric dyeing, deciding what to mix in with the two different dyes to see what changes happened, before choosing their favourite results to make their capes out of. They then designed their own cape pattern and sewed it together, making the final touch to their laser cut figurine. Check out the photos in the gallery below to see how well they turned out!

Many of the kids had a go at putting their physical character design into a digital one, and created a Minecraft skin on BlockBench, which is able to be programmed into Minecraft for them to use while they play.

The final week of STEAM Lab came, and with it being only a couple of weeks before Christmas, the kids got to design something to make for Christmas using any of the technologies we used and learned about this term: sewing, dyeing, BlockBench, laser cutting, 3D printing and vinyl printing.

They came up with custom designed heat transfers for T-shirts; laser cut boxes; a sewn up Christmas tree that was designed from scratch- pattern and all!; and 3D printed snowmen and ornaments.

Last but certainly not least, we had a 'snowball' fight on the balcony using some real science– shaving foam and baking powder react together to make fake snow! 

Sound like fun? Find a STEAM Lab or another after school programme at your local library on our After School Clubs and Activities page.

Like the sound of the technologies we used? Explore our resources to learn more:

Helpful Links

  • Lynda.com– a wonderful comprehensive database of tutorials by pros in the field, perfect for learning a new skill or software. Free for library members
  • Browse our Open Creative Times (returning with the school term) for times to come in and try our technologies

3D Printing

Sewing / Dyeing

Gallery: Photos from STEAM Lab Tūranga, Term Four

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