Over the past few open make events, one thing we've had on the back burner is finding ways to provide "kits" for people to work on at home after the event. The main project that we have tried has used the make@home egg dispenser machine to give out parts for blinky bugs, scribbling machines, or even DIY potato heads. At open make: trash, issues with hair dryers and irons using up too much power forced us to abandon the plans to accshrink chip bags and experiment with a different way of providing kits for visitors.
It turned out that out in the skylight, with everything else running, every time I plugged in my toaster oven it shorted out the circuit breaker. But since I had everything ready for the activity, I decided to just give away the materials needed to shrink bags (and even the chips inside them) and give people instructions on how to make miniaturized chip bag accessories at home. It turned out to be a pretty good experience after we got over the initial disappointment that they wouldn't be making something at the museum. It also provided a good chance to talk to visitors and explain the procedure.
I think one reason that it felt fun for visitors is that people usually have all the necessary materials already at their house and just need some inspiration to get started. The only slightly rare elements are earring backs, key chain loops, and pinback materials, and these can easily be salvaged from old unwanted jewelry. With a little more preparation time and the instructions clearly printed out I think that the "kits" might have been an even better plan than the original idea or at least a good supplement. For things like this, where there's not much "tinkering" that can be done in a short amount of time, giving out the materials and instructions feels pretty interesting and it's nice to explain the steps in person instead of by the printed instructions that we've put in the egg machine. I'd like to see us do this again and try to set-up an easy way for people to share what they've made at home and let us know what new techniques they have discovered.
In case you missed my table at open make, here's the recipe for "shrunken chip bags"
Chip Bag Shrinky Dinks
1 small chip bag emptied of contents (regular kinds like fritos or lays seems to work best but we've experimented with all types)
two baking sheets
conventional or toaster oven
jewelery pieces (key chains, earring backs, or necklace chain)
Preheat oven to 200 degrees. Lay chip bag flat and place on parchment paper. Fold over parchment so that chip bag is completely covered. Place on the back of a flipped-over baking sheet. Place the other baking sheet on top right-side-up so that the bag is pressed flat between the sheets. Bake in oven for about 15 to 20 minutes. Check often (with oven mitts) to see the progress and adjust time and temperature as needed. Once bag had shrunk to desired size, punch a small hole in the corner and attach to jewelry pieces.