Gadgets I made in high school

Simon Zirui Guo
5 min readFeb 18, 2019


Small fun projects that I made with my peers

Besides numerous weekend-long hackathon projects, I have worked on a few fun projects that take about an hour or less. All of them are created at my high school, Upper Canada College, with my schoolmates and teachers. I have witnessed tremendous progress in the maker resources at the school, from using the first 3D-printer to the first dedicated maker space. I enjoy taking a break to express my creativity, mentoring younger schoolmates, and learning new techniques.

(Left) One of our first 3D-printers in the corner of the film lab. (Right) The new Design Lab.

Mechanical T-Rex 🦖

Something must be missing on my diffuser. Hmm, how about a T-Rex head? How about a mechanical T-Rex breathing out steam? I 3D-printed this mechanical T-Rex head, painted it, and installed it on my diffuser.

(Left) Painting the printed T-Rex head. (Right) Head installed on the diffuser.

Materials: blue PLA filament, paint, white glue

Equipment: MakerBot 3D printer, Paintbrush

Makers: Myself with supervision from Thomas Sharpe, Kerry Dupuis, and David Holt

Credit: CAD model from Thingiverse

Flashing Pumpkin 🎃

For Halloween 2018, we decided to put the new laser cutter to the test. A face is carved on the pumpkin, and an LED is inserted in one of its eyes to blink every second controlled by an Arduino microcontroller. Looks scary in the dark hallway! However, the laser cutter smelled like pumpkin.

Materials: pumpkin, wires, resistors, Arduino Uno

Equipment: laser cutter, screwdriver, glue gun, soldering iron

Makers: Ryan Archer, Paul Miskew, Will Finlayson, and myself

Coin & Gear Clock 💰 + ⚙ = 🕰

Time is money. — Benjamin Franklin

But how about a clock that is driven by money? We found this kit resembling Leonardo da Vinci’s clock idea, a clock entirely runs on weight and gears. We assembled the kit and tweaked around to configure a more accurate time.

Materials: da Vinci Clock kit, coins

Makers: Luke Stevens, Eugene Ye, A.J. Shulman, Nate Finney, James Weekes, Michael Farah, and myself

Credit: Academy da Vinci Clock

Electric Turn Table

The Year 8 Design class has made a bunch of dragsters, and some of the exceptional ones need to be displayed. A turntable undoubtedly is the best way to demonstrate every single detail in 360°. Based on a 3D-printed turntable, we attached a motor to the axis and battery powering it to make it electric. In the future, we will attach a joystick to control turns and enclose the table in an acrylic case.

Materials: yellow and black PLA filament, DC motor, wire, 9V battery

Equipment: Luzzbot 3D printer, hand saw, glue gun, soldering iron

Makers: Ryan Archer, A.J. Shulman, Nate Finney, Sloan Sobie, and myself

Credit: online CAD model

Literally a “Small Token of Appreciation” 🎁

For every guest speaker in assemblies, we present them a small token of appreciation, which is usually a water bottle. I thought it might be more original and memorable to literally create a token, that is a circle with our logo on it. I gave one to the librarian leaving my school and she loved it. I then printed a bunch more to give it out during our open house. A laser-engraved wooden version is coming!

Materials: orange and blue PLA filament

Equipment: Prusa 3D printer

Makers: Myself with supervision from Brittney Pakkala

Colourful Coins

Coin colours are confusing. Why don’t we make it more confusing by turning them into other colours? Using the technique of electroplating, we gave our dimes and pennies a new coating and appearance!

(Left) Electroplating process. (Centre) Original and electroplated dime. (Right) Golden, silver, and bronze penny.

Materials: Canadian dime, U.S. penny, copper strip, copper ion solution

Equipment: power source, beaker, multimeter, timer, banana wires

Makers: Ben Alberga and myself with supervision from Tayyabah Ahmed, Lulu Wang, and Norm Breton

Foggy Christmas Tree 🎄

Christmas trees are all the same. How we make them cooler? With some chemical reactions and lights! By placing multiple beakers around a lab stand, we constructed a “tree.” Then, we put dry ice, water, and various colourings in beakers. When the room is dark and a light source is aimed at the tree, our version of Christmas tree comes to life with colourful vapour!

Materials: solid carbon dioxide, water, colourings

Equipment: lab stand, beakers, light source

Makers: Nixon Sinnathurai, Angus Webb, Alexander Romundt, Reed Jeffrey, and myself

Creating those projects with my schoolmates and teachers have been a lot of fun. Feel free to reach out if you are interested in learning more about those gadgets or just generally about making!



Simon Zirui Guo

Accelerating Deep Tech | Robotics, Blockchain, Neurotech | EECS @UCBerkeley | Teaching @CalBlockchain, Director @BB_Xcelerator | prev @hax_co, @SOSV, @Interaxon