Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

MakerSpace: DIY Fidget Spinners Three MORE Ways


Earlier I shared with you 3 ways we are making fidget spinners in the Teen MakerSpace at the Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH). Today I am going to share with you 3 additional ways we have had fun creating our own fidget spinners. All three of these ways involve using a ball bearing. We bought a bulk order of ball bearings off of Amazon for a reasonable price. The ball bearing spinners definitely work better than the non-ball bearing spinners that we created.


DIY Polymer Clay Spinner


Polymer clay has turned out to be a pretty popular item in our Teen MakerSpace, so the teens wanted to explore if they could successfully made a fidget spinner out of clay – and they did. To make the spinner they simply built up the clay around the ball bearing and shaped it into a shape and size that they liked. Our teens made both two and three sided spinners. We baked the clay as directed with the ball bearings already in place.

DIY 3D Pen Spinner

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #1

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #1

I have mentioned many times how our 3D pens are pretty popular, so of course we decided to see if we could make a spinner with one. I actually really liked this spinner the best out of all six that we have made. We used a ball bearing for the center and pennies for the outside spokes to save on the number of bearings we used in subsequent spinners. To make our spinner we built up the 4 individual elements first, making solid circles around the ball bearing and the three pennies. We then connected the four pieces.

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #2

3D Pen Fidget Spinner #2

Light Up LED Spinner Hack


One of our regular teens had the idea to hack a fidget spinner to make it light up using LED lights and button cell batteries. He placed the batteries where the outside bearings usually go, putting them in place using hot glue. He then put an LED light on the end of each and used electrical tape to hold them in place. You can see a short video of our spinner in action here.

The best part about making fidget spinners in so many different ways has been watching the teens explore, create and problem solve. There has been a lot of comparing and contrasting, creative thinking, and working together to try and figure out some of the best ways to try and make new and different types of spinners.

MakerSpace: 3D Pens, Reviews and Tips and Tricks

Many on our staff at The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County were clamoring for a 3D Printer when we were discussing creating our MakerSpace, but we were worried about cost and space. And I personally was worried about the learning curve: I know nothing – and I mean nothing – about 3D Printers. So I was hesitant to set myself up for failure right out of the gate and worried about losing momentum and staff support when others saw my failure. So we opted instead for a 3D printing pen, which turned out to be a really excellent place to start in 3D printing.

3D Printing Pens work kind of like a glue gun, except that they use filament – the same stuff used in 3D Printers – to create 3D works of art. They are less expensive, pack up easily, and they are a great place to start when considering the world of 3D printing. Here’s our first attempt at using a 3D Printing Pen.

We have 2 different types of 3D Pens: the 3D Doodler and a 7Tech 3D Pen which can be found on Amazon by several different names.


The 3Doodler and Filament


The 7Tech 3D Pen

After working with both of the pens I prefer the second 7Tech 3D Pen over the 3D Doodler because:

  • The 3D Doodler takes longer to heat up and advance the filament
  • It is harder to load and navigate the filament
  • You can only use 3D Doodler brand filament, which comes in short sticks so you have to reload it more frequently
  • It is less intuitive for first time users

In comparison, with the 7Tech 3D Pen you can buy spools of 1.75 Filament (often at rock bottom prices) on Amazon. These are more continuous strands so you can focus more on building your creation and less on reloading your filament.

A Note about the 7Tech 3D Pen:

If you do a search on Amazon for a 3D Pen you will find a variety of pens by different names that look basically the same, though they may vary in color. The most common name you have probably heard of is the Scribbler. These pens are a different make and model than the 3D Doodler, the most popular brand name 3D printing pen. These pens are all a version of Model #: RP100A and they take a 1.75 mm filament. You can read some about the Samto version here.

Tips and Tricks for Using Your 3D Pen:

Overall, we really enjoyed using our 3D printing pen. For our first project, we simply tried to make a cube.


We then freehanded something that we called a T-Rex skeleton, mostly just because I like dinosaurs and it kind of looks like one. I went back in and added itty bitty arms to keep it on theme.


We then discovered the magic of templates.

Tip #1: Use Templates Whenever You Can

3dpen6 3dpen7 3pen8

You can freehand draw your own template, which is what my coworker did here. But you can also do a Google search for 3D Pen Templates and find a ton as well. We started a Pinterest board to pin some of our favorites which we keep stocked in our MakerSpace. 3Doodler also has a book which is a great inspiration and starting point, even if you don’t use the 3Doodler.

Tip #2: Buy Some Type of Mat

The 3Doodler actually sells a mat, and even if you don’t use the pen you can use the mat. You can also use a regular cutting mat that you purchase at your local craft store. The mat makes it easy to lift your project off when you are done.

Tip #3: Know Your Filament

There are 2 different types of filaments, ABS and PLA. They have a few differences that are important depending on what you intend to try and make. 3Doodler has a good comparison chart to help you understand the differences.

Tip #4: The Tip of Your 3D Pen is Like a Soldering Iron

You can make little pieces and then solder them together using the tip of your 3D pen.

Tip #5: Be Patient! And Start Small!

Your first time creating with a 3D pen will not be a masterpiece. It takes a while to learn how to keep a steady hand, how best to manipulate the pen and filament, etc. Start with a smaller project and work your way up. It can take a really long time to make a complete project, patience is key.

In the end, we were able to create a very cool catapult using our 3D Pen. (In the interest of full disclosure: my coworker did this, not me) and it can fling um, spit balls (but without the spit, because gross).


And here’s a picture of me sitting in the Teen MakerSpace wearing the 3D glasses that my coworker made . . .


I highly recommend getting a 3D printing pen for your classroom or Maker Space if you can.

Additional Resources:

Testing the 3D Pen, and Conclusion – PC Magazine

3D Printing Pen Tutorial – Instructables

3D Printing Pen Tutorial | Make: DIY Projects, How-Tos

Stencils on Pinterest | 3doodler