No School? No Problem! We’ve got Workshops!

As part of our Young Makers series we’ll be offering classes and workshop on the days that Milwaukee Public Schools are not in session. If you’ve got a teen that’s going to be bored on their day off sign them up at Brinn Labs!

On January 21st, 2019 we’ve got Basic Carpentry and Tool Instruction. We’ll be covering an introduction to woodworking and wood finishing techniques. Students will receive a crash course in wood material, what tools are in a typical workshop, and how to be safe when working in a shop environment. Students get to make their own toolbox and take it home.

Coming up on February 18th, 2019 we’ve got our Learn to Solder workshop in basic electronics. We’ll explore some simple circuits, learn to solder wires and components together, and cover how circuit boards work. Students will be able to walk away with their own LED “pin” to wear and show off their amazing new skills.

For both workshops we’ve got morning and afternoon sessions (10am to noon and 2pm to 4pm) and we’ve got a 2 ticket bundle if you’ve got more than one kid or they want to bring a friend. (Highly encouraged!)

Summer Sessions for 2018

We ran our first Summer Sessions for teens this year, and while we had a small group for our initial offering, they were a fun bunch of kids. The Summer Sessions ran every Wednesday from 1pm to 4pm during July and August, and over the course of seven weeks we covered Fabrication Tools and Shop Safety, Rough Carpentry/Framing, Soldering and Circuit Boards, Stop Motion Animation, 3D Modeling, An Introduction to Arduino, and Design Prototyping.

All of these classes were hands-on and offered access to skills, tools, and instructors that helped students hone their maker chops. Students could come to any week that interested them, or all the weeks. We saw a few kids come back week after week and other just came to the ones they were really interested in. For those who kept coming each week we tried to build upon what they learned in previous weeks, and many sessions saw them leaving with a cool project they made.

We were also pleased to see one former student at Maker Faire Milwaukee, and he also plans to join us as a Lab Intern next year where he’ll have even more opportunities to learn new skills.

Bay View Gallery Night at Brinn Labs!

Yeah! Bay View Gallery Night is happening at Brinn Labs! We’ll be here from 5pm to (at least) 9pm showing off some of the work of our resident artists and makers. Everything from weird electronic devices to illustrations, sculptures, ceramics, prints, as well as video and light installations. It’s going to be a variety of objects and processes and strangeness. Something for everyone!

And for those who like a little audio with their visuals, we’ve lined up a few TBA guests who will provide a bit of background (and/or foreground) noise for you to enjoy. We won’t spill the beans just yet, but there will be beans everywhere on Friday, and they’ll sound amazing.

So come on down and check out the Lab. There’s plenty of free parking right across from the front door starting at 6pm. If you come before 6pm, just park down the road a bit, there’s always space available. (And yes, we’ll have refreshments on tap from one of our new brewery friends, so come thirsty!)

Instrument Lab with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

We teamed up with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra for Instrument Lab. They did a show and tell with their instruments, and we did a hands-on workshop where kids (and adults) could make a D.I.Y. Kalimba.

The Kalimba is an African musical instrument consisting of a wooden board with attached staggered metal tines, played by holding the instrument in the hands and plucking the tines with the thumbs. They are sometimes referred to as a marímbula or a thumb piano. “Kalimba” is a Bantu word which means “little music”.

We made our Kalimbas using a piece of pine, a few nails, some eye bolts and nuts, and some pieces of spring steel. Mike and Becky took turns leading the workshop and walking people through building them. Kids and adults worked together, which is good, because sometimes it’s hard to hold everything in place and tighten the nuts.

We also had MSO musicians showing off a French Horn, Clarinet, and Oboe. The kids got to see how the instruments worked, got to touch them, and got to hear a bit of a performance from each musician. Who knows? Some of the kids may be future orchestral performers.

WMSE Art & Music

We’re big fans of WMSE here at Brinn Labs, and when we heard they needed 300 pieces of art made for their fundraising event, we wanted to help out. Here’s a selection of art boards made by staff (and a few family members who also wanted to pitch in.)

We didn’t quite make 300 boards, but luckily other Milwaukee artists pitched in as well. 🙂

The variety of boards probably speaks fairly well to the variety of interests and skills of our makers. Some are interactive, some are illustrative, some are sculptures, some are paintings.

Best of luck to WMSE with their fundraising!

We Opened!

We’d like to thank everyone who came to our open house on March 1st, 2018 to check out our new space and see what we’re up to. Visitors got a chance to solder, try their hand at screen printing, build a little synth, learn about Cyanotypes and Arduinos, and they even got to enjoy a tasty beverage from our friends at Enlightened Brewing Company.

Besides learning about our upcoming classes and hearing about Maker Faire Milwaukee, they also got to see the work of some local makers, including Becky Tesch of Chain Stay Jewelry & Design and Colleen from Colleen Leahy Designs. (Both are Maker Faire alums and have classes scheduled at Brinn Labs.)

We’ve got a lot planned this year, and we hope to see you again at a future event. (Please, check out what’s coming up!) We look forward to providing the community with chances to learn new skills and make new things, and we hope you’ll join us!

(P.S. Check out more photos from the event on Facebook.)

Join us for an Open House!

We’ve been in the new digs for a little while now, and we’ll be having an open house on March 1st, 2018. We’d love for you to come in and see the place and find out what we’re working on in the lab!

Brinn Labs is headquarters for the Betty Brinn Children’s Museum’s growing Maker Initiatives, which focus on STEM education, outreach and workforce development:

  • The Google Making Spaces Hub program: as one of fifteen Google Hub institutions in the country, we are providing teacher training and other support to help seven local schools develop maker education programs: Lloyd Barbee Montessori School, Clara Mohammed School, Messmer St. Rose, Messmer St. Mary, Bayside Middle School, Stormonth Elementary School, and Pewaukee Lake Elementary School;
  • Teacher Studio: a free monthly program that offers maker and STEM education resources to K-12 educators. Teacher Studio is a collaboration with the University of Wisconsin-Madison School of Education and is generously supported by Rockwell Automation;
  • Classes and workshops for teens (and adults!): emphasizing practical maker skills and STEM education, STEM badge programs for Girl Scouts and other opportunities for young makers; and
  • Maker Faire Milwaukee: one of the largest of more than 200 Faires around the world! If you haven’t been to the Faire, you’ve missed out on great opportunities to connect with young talent, entrepreneurs, academics, and enthusiasts that represent dozens of fields – everything from laser cutting to blacksmithing. More information about this unique event is attached.

We will also feature some hands-on projects, equipment demonstrations, shop tours and previews of our classes, workshops and events. We hope to see you there!

People are starting to notice…

We’re happy to be here, and we’re just weeks away from our first set of classes. In the meantime, check out what the BizTimes had to say about our operation.

We also got positive feedback from our first Teacher Studio that was held in January. (If you missed it, there’s more to come!) Here’s a comment from one of the participants:

“I liked how we focused on one activity and then had time to talk with other participants. During our discussion we brought up different ways that we could use and/or adjust the activity to be relevant in our programs.”

We love being able to share our resources and knowledge with other educators, and look forward to hearing future success stories from them when they implement things in their own classrooms and makerspaces.

If you want to find out more about Brinn Labs and what we’re doing here, check out our events. We’ve got a lot going in this month. And if you can’t attend any of the classes, be sure to stop by on March 1st, 2018 between 3pm and 8pm for our Open House. We’ll be giving tours, showing off our equipment, and offering some hands-on activities.

Teacher Studio

We had a great turnout for our January Teacher Studio. Over twenty people joined us for our free professional development program for K-12 educators implementing making, makerspaces, and STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math) learning.

Want to find out more? Check out

We’ve got four more Teacher Studio events coming up, so if you missed this one, catch the next one. (We do ask you to register though, so we know you’re coming.)