Lux Corner Blog – Page 2 – LUX BLOX
Hours of play away from your phone, American made

Three Inspiring Achievements of Kids during COVID-19

By Emma Helferich

As stay at home orders were put into place, schools closed and activities paused, allowing children more free time than ever before. What some did to ‘do their part’ during these uncertain times is truly inspiring. 

As the coronavirus spread, face masks became scarce. A group of Detroit students - aged 8 through 13 – created non-surgical masks for healthcare professionals. Providing instruction online, fashion designer Elena Victoria taught the students to sew masks for medical professionals, which they shipped to local hospitals. These children have created hundreds of masks which are being used all over the United States.


Millions of healthcare workers have been risking their lives each day to help care for patients with COVID-19. Some are isolating themselves away from their family and close friends, which can take a toll on a person’s mental health.  One inspiring family from Arizona has found a way to put smiles on the faces of these front-line workers.

Tory Pottinger Feiler and her two boys, Luke and Colin, started making cards for healthcare providers.  It didn’t take long for this to become a huge hit in their community.  Tory created a Facebook page - “Cards for Hospitals and Nursing Homes”.  The community grew quickly as the page has over 500 members from across Arizona.

Members of the group post pictures of the cards, allowing the children to display their creativity before sending them to the health care workers.  Both the authors and the recipients received a boost of positivity from the cards.  According to the Greater Good Magazine, research shows writing letters of gratitude once per week can help with mental health significantly, even up to three months after writing them.


Instead of asking for birthday presents, Domonic Mercado, a 12-year-old from New Jersey, asked his community members for non-perishable foods for the local food pantry in his hometown. Spirit & Truth Ministries Kitchen said this was the largest donation they had seen in years - - 5 SUV’s!  This act is truly inspiring due to the rising number of people who have had to rely on local soup kitchens to feed their family during this pandemic.

 

While the pandemic and quarantines have cost many lives and done great damage to our economy, it is comforting to know that children, working with adults, have been sparked by their caring into action which helped those in need.

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Doodling with Smoke

Charcoal is our most ancient drawing medium. It is a black carbon residue created by burning wood or bone to remove the water and other component materials without enough oxygen to burn away all of the carbon. 

Cave paintings made using charcoal and other materials have been dated as early as 30,000 years BC 1.  A beautiful charcoal drawing of a mammoth from Rouffignac at Lascaux in France is shown below. These pictures would have been made using charred sticks taken from a fire.

Cave drawings

The most famous painter of the Italian Renaissance was Raphael. He did most of his preparation drawing in charcoal. Here is an example of one of his charcoal drawings:

If you want to make your own charcoal for drawing watch this great video below. It is easy to do as long as you have a charcoal grill or fireplace or place in your yard to make a fire. 

The charcoal I use in my tutorial is made from willow saplings. 

Here is an amazing blog about where the finest willow charcoal is made. It is fascinating. 

Charcoal is a wonderful medium because it is soft and responds to the pressure and direction of your hand. It is a very expressive drawing material and it is great for “doodling” around.

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Building Model Airplanes

At Lux Blox, we celebrate all kinds of builders, young and old, big and small.

Don Cahill grew up in Brooklyn, New York, in the 1930’s. He is a former teacher, school superintendent, software creator, and author. Don has 10 children, 21 grandchildren, and 11 great-grandchildren. Below Don recalls the joy of building model airplanes.

creating a model airplane

My brother Jack was a year older than me and was probably the one who taught me about building model airplanes. And not just any model airplanes but flying models.  We would walk down Jamaica Ave some blocks to Tex Foster's shop which, as you entered, had finished models hanging from the ceiling. 

I don’t know if he sold anything else besides model kits and loose balsa wood strips and blocks, but it was where we would pick out our next projects in kit form.  Ten cents would get you a kit for a 12-inch wingspan plane. Cessna, Stinson-Reliant, Piper Cub, Focke-Wulff, Spirit of St. Louis, and others. We would make our buys and rush home to start the new project.

The kit contained: strips of balsa wood, a thin sheet of balsa with the outlines of necessary shapes for wing and fuselage, a propeller, long rubber band,  wire hooks to hold the rubber band at the back and to the prop, a vial of glue, a sheet of thin rice paper to cover the surfaces, and, of course, the plans. 

You were expected to supply your own straight pins to hold pieces to the plans while the glue dried, and a single-edge razor blade for cutting out the wing ribs and rounded tips of wings, rudder, and elevator, as well as the strips for forming the skeleton of the plane.

blue print for flying machine

I would feverishly go to our room and pin the plan to a flat piece of cardboard so I could push pins into it and set to work.  Next, I would cut out all the parts from the balsa sheet. Long balsa strips were pinned in place on the plan and connected with little dabs of glue. 

As each assembly was dried, I removed it from the plan. The fuselage (the body of the plane) required two sides to be constructed and then pieced together with cross pieces and rounded formers if called for. The wing was a single unit as were the rudder and elevator (the control surfaces).

partially built model kit

Gradually the whole skeleton grew into a unit lacework of balse which now required covering with the provided paper.  Piece by piece the paper was glued to the outside of the plane.  We would work for hours after school and sometimes even on the weekend until interrupted (“Dinner is ready.”; “Have you done your homework?”; “Time for bed!”) When it was all trimmed and lightly sanded,  water was gently brushed onto all the paper surfaces and allowed to dry, shrinking to a taut surface, provided no wrinkles had been allowed to form. Finally, after hours and days of delicate laboring, the plane was ready to try out. 

First the prop, now connected by a rubber band to a hook at the rear of the fuselage, had to be wound just the right number of times to tighten the band enough to make it whir for the few seconds required to make it actually fly!  But, first, you had to test its glide over a soft surface (a bed would do) and balance it with judicious weight fore or aft.  Then, the acid test: wind it up and launch it by hand.  Oh, the wonder of it as it wobbled through the air... the thrill ... the power... and frequently the awkward nalding which might snap a wing or rudder.  Back to the room to see what repairs were possible.

model plane advertisement

Of course, Tex Foster also sold 25 cent kits for models which had a wingspan of 2 feet or so.  These were sturdier and more likely to fly better and with less accident proneness.  But, we seldom could afford the upgrade. 

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Don Cahill

If you have an inspiring story about building, send us your story to be featured on our blog - Lux Corner.

Did you know that you can build planes with Lux Blox? Check out our Airplanes and Banshee Helicopters!

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Lux Blox Around the Home and Office

Over the years you have been sending us the cool things you use Lux Blox for around the home and workplace.  (Yes- you discovered that Lux Blox is really more than a toy- it is an actual building material!)  This brings us joy because it is exactly what we had hoped for when creating Lux Blox - that people would use it to innovate and do creative things!  

In Peoria, Illinois, Lux Blox found their way into the bathroom and the kitchen.

 lux toothbrush lux dishes

 In this video a mom and her son show off their toothbrush holders in Minnesota.


Ben from Texas built a bridge for his cars with his Dad.

 

When Ben first played with Lux at his grandparents’ house, he was only three. He tiled their floor with Lux Blox. 

floor tiles

 

Many children help their parents stay organized by making them baskets to hold things like mail, magazines, and napkins. 

basket

 

These girls in Bloomington, Indiana made iPhone holders for their teacher.

 

Have you or your children created new uses of Lux Blox at your home? Let us know in the comments below!

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Making Models of Life with Lux Blox Trigons

The organic molecules that make living things are a bit less frightening when we understand a little about how they work.

Here we show how Lux Blox trigons can be used to understand the building blocks of life. 

The video demonstrates how Lux Blox can model the basic structures that make things like viruses, cells, and microscopic organisms. 

The trigons can give kids the opportunity to model chains of amino acids, called polypeptides, and how these β-strands (beta-strands) can be folded into the β-sheets (beta-sheets) that build the β-proteins (beta-proteins) that build things like viruses and cells.



Trigons come in black, white, and olive green and are available here

Visit our store to see more.

Did you miss our drawing lessons? Check out our video lessons on how to draw by clicking here!

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