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Make a Laser-Cut Holiday Ornament at the Carnegie Science Center

by Janet Jonus

For a truly unique FamilyFun holiday experience, head over to the FabLab at Carnegie Science Center where you can design and create a laser-cut holiday ornament from a piece of wood. At the end of the hour, you will have a one-of-a-kind, wood ornament designed by you to take home with you. The Laser-Cut Holiday Ornaments workshop is a fun holiday activity for kids – and parents too!

The Laser-Cut Holiday Ornament Workshop is a stand-alone class. You do not need any previous knowledge of design or laser cutting to make an ornament. The FabLab teacher will walk you through the process and help you. If you have some experience with graphic design (Windows Paint is good enough), you will be able to easily work through the ornament design. Even if you don’t, the process is pretty straightforward and fun.

The ornament design is up to you. It can be as simple or as elaborate you want it to be. The FabLab provides templates for the basic design of the ornament, including the shape. Some of the designs even have text boxes in place for you. You just need to fill them in (or not, you can easily erase the text box). Or if you want a real challenge, you can use a completely blank template shape and fill it with elements from the design box. You can add holiday graphics, family and pet related graphics, seasonal elements, and even some elements from Star Trek and Star Wars. You can resize your elements, flip them, or tilt them. You can add a text box and chose from dozens of text options. Once your design is complete, you save it to a file and send it to the cutter. Don’t worry the FabLab teacher is there to help you with every step of the process.

Family+FunPittsburgh had a blast designing their ornaments. Family+FunMom has had experience using graphic design programs but the Family+FunKids did not. Once they learned the basics in a five minute demonstration by Charissa, our (excellent, intelligent, helpful, wonderful) FabLab teacher, they were on their way. They easily designed their ornaments and had them off to the laser cutter within ten minutes of starting their design. The FabLab teacher sets up the cutter for you, and you get to press the big green “GO” button. Then you can watch as the laser cutter etches out your design and cuts out your ornament. The cutting process takes about ten minutes (and your ornament will be cut with other ornaments in the queue). Voila! The Ornament you just designed is now ready to hang on your Christmas Tree!

The FabLab is a special area within the Highmark SportsWorks building. It is a “maker lab” with computer assisted technology, including 3D printers, a vinyl cutter, a ShopBot, and two laser cutters. The laser cutters can cut through a variety of materials like acrylic, wood, and even chocolate! (Family+FunPittsburgh wants to go to that workshop!) The Lab was initially designed for school groups, but now the Science Center has opened it up for the general public. There are classes on the proper use of each of the machines, called “101” Classes. Once you have taken a 101 Class, you can schedule time in the Lab when it is open to the public (called “FLOW” or FabLab Open Workshop) to use the piece of equipment you learned about. For example, if you take the FabLab 101 Class on 3D Printing, you can then use the 3D Printers during FLOW, but you do have to pay for materials you use.

The Ornament Workshop is a perfect introduction to Computer Assisted Design and Technology. The workshop lasts about an hour. There are ten computer stations for the design part of the class. There are two laser cutters that will cut out your ornament. The class is for kid 8+. Kids under 12 must be accompanied by a paying adult. The Classroom is quite small and there is not any room for spectators. Everyone in the room will need to be a paying student.

Laser-Cut Holiday Ornament Workshops are on every Saturday through December 21st. Class times are 1100AM, 1215PM, and 130PM. Reservations are required and must be made online here: http://carnegiesciencecenter.org/programs/fablab-public-workshops-holiday/ The cost is $10 per person for one ornament, $8 per person for Science Center members. Workshop admission DOES NOT INLCUDE ADMISSION TO THE SCIENCE CENTER! If you want to stay and play, you will have to purchase Science Center admission, either online or at the Science Center. You DO NOT need admission to the Science Center to attend the Laser-Cut Ornament Workshop.

The FabLab is located at the back of the Highmark SportsWorks building, near the Olympic Racer sprint challenge. (Yes, you will have to walk through the SportsWorks complex, past the Zipline and climbing wall to get to the FabLab. Remember, you cannot use any of the Sports Center features without a paid admission. How will they know? When you pay for admission to the Science Center, they give you a wristband, which you must be wearing in order to stay and play.)

The Carnegie Science Center is a wonderful place to spend the day. There are two buildings, with a multitude of things to see and do. For more information, http://familyfunpittsburgh.com/carnegie-science-center-familyfunpittsburgh-ultimate-guide/

The Basics

The Science Center is open daily from 1000AM – 500PM. The Science Center is usually closed during Steelers home games and at some special events at Heinz Field. (The Science Center is across the street from Heinz Field.)

General Admission tickets to the Science Center are $19.95 for adults 13+, $11.95 for children 3-12, and $14.95 for seniors 65+, children under two are free. This grants you admission to all four levels of the Science Center, Highmark SportsWorks, Buhl Planetarium, and the USS Requin. Mummies of the World Admission is $19.95 for adults 13+, $15.95 for children 3-12, and $17.95 for seniors 65+. Admission for Mummies of the World does not include admission to the Science Center. Admission to the Rangos Giant Cinema for any one educational movie (Hollywood movies are priced separately) is $9.95 for guests 3 and up. These tickets are available for sale online and at the Science Center.

The Science Center offers combination discounts at the ticket counter (not available online). General admission to the Science Center and admission to Mummies of the World is $32.90 for adults 13+, $22.90 for children 3-12, and $26.90 for seniors 65+. General admission to the Science Center and a Rangos Educational Movie is $27.90 for adults 13+. $19.90 for children 3-12, and $22.90 for seniors 65+. Admission to Mummies of the World and a Rangos Educational Movie (but no admission to the Science Center) is $27.90 for adults 13+, $23.90 for children 3-12, and $25.90 for seniors 65+. Finally the multi-pack which includes general admission to the Science Center, Mummies of the World, and a Rangos Educational Movie is $40.85 for adults 13+, $30.85 for children 3-12, and $34.85 for seniors 65+. Children two and under are free.

You can also buy tickets to Laser shows at the Science Center. The cost is $8.00 for guests 3 and up and $7.00 for admission to the USS Requin for all guests 3 and up.

Check out prices here: http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/visit/pricing/

There are several discounts to the Science Center. Discounts are available here: http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/visit/special-offers-and-discounts/


Parking is available in the Science Center lot for $5.00. Parking exit tickets can be purchased inside the Science Center at pay kiosks. They can be purchased at any time during your visit and used when you leave. The Allegheny Center T station is right next to the Science Center and the Port Authority 14 and 18 buses stop nearby.

The Science Center is wheelchair accessible (except for the USS Requin). Arrangements can be made in advance for those with special needs. A limited number of motorized wheelchairs are available. The Science Center also has sunglasses and noise cancelling headphones for those on the autism spectrum and those with sensory disorders. Check here for more information: http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/visit/accessibility/

The Carnegie Science Center is at One Allegheny Avenue, Pittsburgh PA 15212 / 412-237-3400 / http://www.carnegiesciencecenter.org/