We are looking back on these incredible 10 weeks and there were so many stories that were so
much fun to create, but we picked a few to highlight in our 2018 Spark Story Book. We hope to
see you again next summer where we get to add another chapter.
Who doesn’t remember the feeling of the first day of summer? It is a day so full of promise that
sets the tone for all the rest. And we started it off right by using every second. Sparklers quickly
learned about wearable technology and wasted no time applying what they learned while
creating a design for the official 2018 Spark Summer t-shirt. We loved watching each child make
their mark on this shared canvas that was worn proudly all over Lincoln every week for the rest
of the summer. Truly incredible. But that wasn’t enough. Sparklers were joined by Troy and
Nick, engineers from Lincoln Electric Systems, who taught them the secrets of circuits and
helped them develop their own series or parallel circuits. Some circuits looked like sharks,
others spelled out names, but all were as individual as the kiddo who made it. Sparklers screen
printed again, but this time with the magic of electric ink they created patches they could attach
to their shirt that lit up LED’s. One particularly incredible design placed two LED right where the
eyes of their cat design were. Unfortunately, I don’t have a picture of that one, but below are
some pics so you can see the full effect.
Analog and digital strategies - At Spark, we love giving students options when designing and
producing their projects and something we really enjoyed this week was how readily they took to
this. Many of our students used the Circuit Builder in Tinker Cad to quickly and creatively design
and test their circuits. Two of the successful Tinker Cad examples are pictured below as well as
one example of a circuit being designed with graphite. We also have final t-shirt designs on vinyl
and prepped for transfer to our screen fro printing, as well as some of the finalized LED patches.
The dog days of summer are in full effect, but so are the Sparklers. In fact, our K-5 group welcomed
a group of middle school students to the party and the making began. We started each day
with the BIG idea of “Make it BIG and make a LOT!” LPS high schoolers from the precision machining pathway
of The Career Academy as well as pros from local manufacturer Lincoln Machine jumped on board
with CAD skills, CNC routers, plasma cutters, and expert advice. The whole team went to work and
you can’t believe what they made: a ladybug 20 times bigger than nature intended, a biplane from
paper then license plates then plywood, an owl with sunglasses, and over 30 different fan-powered
inflatables in the shape of pterodactyls,
fish, elephants, and so much more.
“Adaptations are tools that your body makes,” said Emma Hazel Lincoln Children’s Zoo’s Animal
Manager just before the Johnny the Serval Cat leapt 10 feet in the air from a sitting position.
Johnny and the rest of the natural world guided our sparklers on their path to create new and
exciting inventions. Drawing on inspiration from observations made at Pioneers park Sparklers
dreamed up protective gloves modeled after a giraffes tongue, a hotel designed for animals, the
Split Crane (more on this below), and about 100 versions of what a “dolphin boat” might look
The Split Crane took on a life of its own after the group dreamed it up. They borrowed the idea
that a giraffe needs to splay its legs fairly wide so that it can lower itself enough to get a drink of
water and this group decided that their crane would have legs that would move apart and come
together so the crane could dig much deeper than its normal range would allow, but also lift
and dump higher as well. Below you can see the Tinker Cad model of this invention as well as a
3D printed prototype.
The Failed Dolphin Boat (pictured below) is a great example of something we talked about on a
regular basis at Spark - the difference between a failure and a first try. The group didn’t even
want to attach their names to this model, but the group simply needed to build a few more
iterations of their idea before it lined up with their vision.
Beyond all the incredible projects and fact-finding field trips Sparklers also squeezed in some all out
fun with a field day (where the winners of the sponge relay got to soak a staff member of
their choice), popsicles for all, and of course, a Sparkler favorite our weekly trip to the pool.