a paper slide
a paper slide

Making a Paper Slide

A Covid-Friendly Makerspace Activity

Phil Mendez
Nov 23, 2020 · 3 min read

This is part of a series on Makerspace activities that require few materials. Check out the last one, Making a Crane.

I run a Makerspace. We have a dedicated lab, but we cannot use it. Microwaves, cellphones, irons, and iPods sit in boxes labeled ‘Makerspace.’ To observe health and safety guidelines in age of coronavirus, we have had to get creative. And scrappy.

These days, I travel to the classroom where my students meet for contact tracing. This creates practical constraints. I cannot use all the materials and spaces I was used to, which is appropriately a very “makerspace” thing. The maker movement takes after a scrappy, rapid prototyping culture. The design firm IDEO says “Fail fast, fail cheap.”

In that spirit, here is an activity that requires 3 materials.

Provide inspiration

Encourage students to hold their thoughts, feelings, and reactions. Answer questions at end. Batching answering questions, like meal prep or clothes prep, helps you get more done in one go.

Offer a few quick tips

cutting slips
cutting slips

We generated ideas to fold, cut, bend, twist, glue, and curl the paper.

One child created a “seesaw” feature by gluing a flat plane on top of a half cylinder, so the half cylinder would roll to one side or another depending on where the weight, or load, sat on the plane. Amazing.

Image for post
Image for post

Foster independence

I gave each group 9 sheets of paper, a glue stick, and scissors.

another paper slide
another paper slide

Let them build

kids dropping a paper ball down a paper slide
kids dropping a paper ball down a paper slide

Award ideas

Image for post
Image for post
The “vacuum cleaner” slide

Future Projects

  • Making a tower
  • Making a kite
  • Making a sailboat
  • Making a chair

Good luck, makers! ✌🏼

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