Popsicle stick puzzle
I made it at TechShop Detroit

Here's an easy to make project, that will give your little ones a nice, quiet activity.

Popsicle sticks or tongue depressors
Laser etcher (available at TechShop)
graphics program (CorelDRAW available at TechShop)

Step 1: Preparing the graphic

Popsicle stick puzzle
Popsicle stick puzzle
Determine how big (how many sticks) you want your puzzle to be. We wanted ours to be square, so we just placed several side by side and use another stick to measure with, and came up with eleven.

This gave us a 4.25" square to work with.

We made two puzzles this day, so the photos and graphics are 'mix and match'

Using your graphics program, create a graphic/document, the size of your puzzle, and add any graphic, clip art, or text you wish. In the case of our Einstein puzzle, we sized it to the appropriate width, and just let the height exceed the boundary of the document. This is not a problem, as the laser will not etch outside the boundary.

Step 2: Etch the graphic

Popsicle stick puzzle
Popsicle stick puzzle
Popsicle stick puzzle
Popsicle stick puzzle
Place the sticks side by side on the bed of the laser. By pushing them all the way to the top and left guides, you can be sure they are lined up straight, and square.

Using the recommended settings for wood, etch the graphic.
Tip: Popsicle sticks are made from soft wood. It is a good idea to test etch a few sticks to be sure not to etch too deep. Adjust the laser settings accordingly.

Step 3: Solve the puzzle

Popsicle stick puzzle
Popsicle stick puzzle
Jumble up the sticks and hand it to your little one to put together.

Since the pieces don't have to fit together, it is easy for kids with under developed motor skills to work with.

For a more challenging puzzle, try mixing up the sticks, and etch a second image on the back side!

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