Build your own lightsaber with this nonprofit - Metro US

Build your own lightsaber with this nonprofit


May the force be with you, and also with budding Boston-area engineers.

A Somerville family “hackerspace” is celebrating the return of the Star Wars franchise with another installment of its make-your-own lightsaber meet-ups, inviting area youngsters to whip up a handmade version of the battle weapon of choice for intergalactic warriors.

Made of polycarbonate tubes and threaded with LED lights in the color and style of their choosing, kids taking part get to take home a “very strong” replica, durable enough to outlast even the most enthusiastic duels, said Dina Gjertsen, afterschool coordinator for Parts and Crafts, the nonprofit behind the idea.

“You can actually smash them against each other without having them shatter,”Gjertsen said. “Because what you want to do is hit something with it.”

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It’s become a tradition to let participants duke it out in a darkened basement once the builds are complete, she said. “It’s really cool to watch.”

Parts and Crafts hosts a day program for homeschoolers, summer camps and a number of quirky meet-ups designed to get kids interested in engineering and confident enough to tackle hands-on projects of their own. On its most recent calendar are a class on building DIY music synthesizers and a series on pyrotechnics.

The nonprofit has been a collaborator with groups like the Somerville Arts Council and the Mystic and Clarendon Hill housing projects.

The lightsaber builds, a half-dozen so far, have been Parts and Crafts’ “marquis” programs – their most popular offering by far, Gjertson said, and possibly their most bridge-building educational tool.

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“That’s why we call it ‘one lightsaber per child.’ Like ‘one laptop per child,’ but with lightsabers,” she said. “Pretty much every kid who comes through here at one point or another builds a lightsaber.”

There are plans to host traveling Star Wars-themed builds, she said, possibly stopping by at an area movie theater.

The upcoming event at Parts and Crafts headquarters on Somerville Avenue on Dec. 19, the same weekend Star Wars: Episode VII hits theaters, is a fundraiser to support programs and outreach.

Tickets are $30 per family plus $10 for each additional sword.

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