Litchee Academy helps teachers bring STEAM projects to their classrooms. These instructions focus on giving teachers tips and tricks for classroom experiences. You can find our makerspace at litchee.cn
1 computer per student with mouse
Inkscape software (free, Inkscape.org)
1 notebook per student
Some various color papers, tapes, markers, or paints
Step 1: Create Your Art
Whether a download or a personal drawing, we need something to put on front of the notebook!
If you draw in Inkscape, just use black and white lines and in the end the laser will trace them out.
If you download something, a black and white picture will be the easiest. Paste it into Inkscape, make sure it's selected, then go to Path / Trace Bitmap, to convert the picture to vector art (tip: after the trace, you have 2 copies, the original and the vector trace, delete the original).
After you like how your art looks, go to File / Save As, and select the .dxf filetype. This is a good format for laser cutters, XY plotters, and other machines.
Step 2: Test Your Design!
Cut your design out on regular paper, make a stencil. Then color in the empty spots with a marker.
If everything comes out like expected, you can move onto the notebook.
- the stencil breaks because pieces are too thin, and you need to go back to Inkscape to widen some pieces.
- some pieces are cut out of the stencil, because they are not connected to the main body.
- it just doesn't quite look like you expected!
teachers: I encourage you to let the students test and fail, rather than insisting they fix errors that you see before they test. This is a luxury of time, so you decide how much to follow this advice.
Step 3: Cut It Out!
Open up your notebook and cut only the front cover. Here, I tried plastic and thick paper. I used an 80w laser set to about 70% power. Actually, we ruined one plastic notebook first while testing! Try to have some backups.
The Zebra notebook, we added stripes of colored paper behind it using double sided tape.
The tank we put a piece of black paper behind it, using regular cellophane to tape the edges.
Step 4: Inspire!
Don't forget to have everyone take pictures to share their work with friends, family, and/or the internet!