Building your own LEGO Land

For more than sixty years, LEGOs have allowed children all over the world to create worlds of their own. Although most sets come with a predetermined set of specs to follow, much of the fun lies in veering away from those designs. You might start out making a fire station and wind up constructing a small fortress. Or you might begin with a mansion and then add on propellers. The appeal of LEGOs has always been that the possibilities are endless. What begins as a simple pile of bricks can easily turn into a complex work of art. Wouldn't it be great if you could create life-size things with LEGOs? It used to be a dream, but now it's one step closer to becoming reality. The following stories are about how professionals use LEGOs and 3D printing to create real-world designs.

Building a City

Many factors have to be considered in urban planning: location, population, environmental concerns, potential growth. In addition to those factors, planners must consider the design area. Architects want their buildings to be aesthetically pleasing in addition to being functional. The difficulty lies in getting a clear idea of the visuals from a static set of blueprints. That's where LEGO comes in.

lego city
Image via City Lab

At the world-renowned Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), a new public display allows Boston residents to shape a city as they see fit. MIT's display features a 3D projection of the city laid out on an interactive board. Citizens then use LEGO pieces to shape an area of the city, to which the projection automatically adjusts itself. This allows Boston citizens to see very quickly how construction proposals would positively or negatively affect the city.

According to Chris Zegras, professor of Transportation and Urban Planning at MIT, the purpose of the project is to bridge the gap between city planners and the average citizen. "Our ultimate objective is this idea of co-creation," explains Zegras. "Having producers and consumers work intimately together in the production of a good creates a better good. We would like that to happen in how we produce 21st-century transit systems."

Happy Camper

When kids create LEGO automobiles, they're usually variations of the cars their parents drive or re-creations of vehicles from films and television shows they've watched. Whatever the design, both parents and kids wish they could build their own vehicle and take it for a test drive. At the recent Motorhome and Caravan Show in the United Kingdom, one such vehicle really was taken out on the road.

lego camper
Image via Guinness World Records

One of the highlights of the show was the display of life-sized caravan camper built from 215,158 LEGO pieces, setting a Guinness World Record for the largest caravan built with interlocking bricks. The camper was built over 12 weeks, and required more than a thousand man hours. As impressive as it is in design, what really sets the camper apart is that it's fully functional. It features a sink with running water, a working refrigerator, and even a bed, among other amenities. The camper will next be shown alongside its real-life counterpart at BRICK, a British LEGO fan event, in late October, before being displayed in London in early December.

Did you play with LEGOs as a kid? How about as an adult? Share your stories in the comments below!

Autumn Activities for Kids

As the leaves begin to turn brown, and kids head back to school, it becomes clear that summer is over. But you can still help your kids to make the most of their after-school hours. Here are some creative projects specially designed to help you and your children get the most out of the fall season.

Pages and Petals

Your little ones may not have finished their summer reading list, but they’ll certainly be hitting the books now. One way to make sure those books aren’t left behind in lockers or desks is to personalize them. With a few household items, you and your kids can create these floral bookmarks.

floral bookmark
Image via PBS

Friend-finder

One of the most admirable traits of children is their ability to make friends easily. One classic schoolyard method is trading friendship bracelets. If your children are a bit too young for the complex embroidery of a traditional bracelet, you might want to try a simplified glow-worm bracelet. Just think, your children could have their own googly-eyed companions to follow them wherever they go.

glow-worm bracelet
Image via PBS

For the Birds

A typical autumn school day is a lot like a typical day for a bird. Birds fly off early to learn about the world, only to fly back to the nest for food and rest. With all the care you put into your own home, why not make a separate home—or even just a feeder—for your
feathered friends

bird feeder
Image via PBS

All of the above projects and more can be found on PBS Parents. Do you have any favorite fall crafts? Share them with us in the comments!

DIY Mother's Day Gift Ideas

6. May 2013 08:00 by Calvin Yu in Arts, Crafts & DIY Projects  //  Tags: , ,   //   Comments (0)

With Mother’s Day coming up quickly, it’s time to start thinking about a gift for mom. While every mom might love some diamond earrings, a cruise, or new carpeting for the basement – these options aren’t always economically feasible. With that said, we’re sharing a few favorite gift choices for mom you can easily make on your own and all you’ll need is paper and a printer!

Follow our five gift steps and your mother is sure to see that you put a lot of thought and care into making her day special. Here's a list of 5 creative and thoughtful gift ideas that won't break the bank:

1) TREAT HER TO A 5-STAR ROOM SERVICE EXPERIENCE

Mother's Day Door Hanger

Breakfast in bed is always a great kick start to Mother’s Day. It’s simple, quick, and highly appreciated. Since your mother has cooked so many meals for you, it’s a great opportunity to return the favor.

Waking up to the smell of coffee brewing and the sound of a sizzling skillet—lovely! A delicious breakfast served in bed—even better. Knowing she doesn’t have to clean up the kitchen—perfect! You are already off to a great start with mom.

Keep in mind however, that a little planning can go a long way, so treat her to a 5-star room service experience by letting her choose her favorite dish the night before with this cute DIY Door Knob. You can then make sure you have everything at hand in the morning to prepare her breakfast before she even gets out of bed.

2) MAKE HER THE BEST MOM MEDALLION

Mother's Day Ribbon

Because who doesn't want to hear that they're the world's best mom?

It may seem like a cliché, but ask any mom and she will tell you that a gift you make with your own hands means more than anything you can buy at the mall. This colorful medallion will surely brighten her day and give you extra points for the try.

Instructions:

  1. First up, cut all the pieces apart using a paper trimmer or scissors (whatever you have).
  2. Next you will want to accordion fold the two diagonal striped strips at every 1/2 inch. If you have a ruler, it can help make clean lines to fold on.
  3. To make the paper medallion, a hot glue gun will come in handy. Put a big dab of hot glue in the center and hold until dry and set.

3) DON’T FORGET TO PRINT THE CARD

Mother's Day Card

While all moms do love getting gifts, it’s often that the card may be the most meaningful part. This is your chance to show your mom your appreciation for all her hard-work and love. With the internet at your fingertips, you won’t be hard pressed to find

tons of printable Mother’s Day cards. Just make sure your printer is stocked up on colored ink before you print. Browse the many selections and make sure to personalize the card with your own special note.

4) PRINT A COLLAGE WITH HER FAVORITE PHOTOS

Mother's Day Photo Collage

Make your mom laugh and reminisce with a unique twist on a photo collage. Come up with a special theme, such as vacations throughout the years. Utilize collage tools such as GetLoupe.com to easily create a special album for your mom in the shape of a heart, butterfly, or whichever shape you’d like!  You’ll get the best results if you have a photo printer, such as HP’s Photosmart. Don’t forget to get HP ink for the printer so you can print your photos with vibrant colors.

5) AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST, PRESENT HER WITH FLOWERS

DIY Mother's Day Flower Bouquet

Moms love getting flowers, but sadly they only last a few weeks, if not just days. So this Mother’s Day, make her everlasting flowers yourself. This impressive bouquet only requires a few necessities and will definitely make an impression on your mom. For a full tutorial, visit: www.elli.com

What you will need:

  • 24 prints of the paper rose template
  • scissors
  • a hot glue gun
  • florist wire and florist tape
  • ribbons
  • bow

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