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Fab Lab at MSI a hit with Chicago tweens

Know a tween who’s into creating and designing? Want to get your hands on some state-of-the-art equipment and learn something new together? Aspiring engineers and parents alike can make and take home personalized keychains, jewelry, stickers or even a mini version of themselves at the Museum of Science and Industry’s Wanger Family Fab Lab, a 15-seat workshop for computer-based innovation with cutting-edge software and fabrication equipment.

“The museum is excited to inspire children and families to tap into their own creative potential,” says Rabiah Mayas, director of Science and Integrated Strategies.

MSI currently offers three Fab Lab workshops: 3D Printing, Laser Cutting and Vinyl Cutting. Additional timed-entry tickets are required. Children must be 10 or older and those under 13 require a ticketed adult chaperone. Reserving tickets in advance is recommended, especially during peak holiday season.

I attended a one-hour Laser Cutting workshop with my tween cousin, Jaden. After a quick overview and demonstration of Inkscape, a free open-source design software, from our enthusiastic instructors, we unleashed our creativity to design anything we desired within a 2-inch square of fluorescent green acrylic. My cousin created an anime keychain while I made a necklace for my daughter.

“It was awesome!” said Xander Helvie, 11, of Grayslake, who attended with his mom.

Next time, we’ll try the 3D Printing workshop, where you can scan yourself in, manipulate the file and print a mini 3D version. Talk about a fun present for grandparents! Vinyl Cutting workshops are perfect for those wanting a custom-made sticker in 20 minutes

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