Gadgets and Gizmos stage design


Now that I am in the field of church consulting in helping church leaders “get it done,” my assistance takes many forms. One job I have been doing is for University Covenant Church in northern California, serving in the role of long-distance event project manager and stage/decor designer. Last week the event launched and I was thrilled by the amazing work of the team that put everything together!

The event is the annual all-church summer day camp for kids called “Breakaway,” an all-hands-on-deck vacation Bible school type of event that is “better than Disneyland.” Way back in the day, I helped direct this event but after moving away my colleague Glen has been the director. Due to changing responsibilities, he had way too much on his plate, so this year I served as a long-distance event coordinator, meeting weekly with the team to make sure plans were on track. They have powerhouse leaders who did a fantastic job doing the job of putting this together.

They year, they used the curriculum “Gadgets and Gizmos” from 252 Basics. Inspired by their ideas, we decided to hone down to a mechanical focus using gears, springs, balls and other non-electronic objects. Next year they are doing “Zapped,” which will have more of a mechanical focus, so it was important to stay strictly mechanical this year.

Using Sketchup, I designed a lobby tower that was inspired by patio lattices. I wanted a frame that could be used to hang gears. I settled on the model below, complete with a marble run spiraling around the outside. I provided dimensioned plans to make construction easier. (I have a design website as well for Angela Yee Design.)

Bill Krause is an amazing volunteer with an engineering mastermind and inventor’s heart. Last month when I went to NorCal and stopped by, he had turned the youth room into a testing workshop. Here is is showing my brother-in-law Steve (and my nephews), who was the construction lead.

The tower was unveiled and it was amazing!

Here’s a video to show you how totally mindblowing it was. It had a spiral ball elevator made of pool noodles, springs on motors, and rotating gears. The balls went up the spiral elevator, which is a pool noodle wrapped around a PVC pipe! (At least, that was what the prototype was. I’m not sure what they ended up using for the final product.)

This thing was strong. Here’s Bill sitting on top!

He created some really cool nautilus gears. The design was printed on paper and glued on.

The ceiling above was so much fun, in keeping with the theme of balls, springs, and mechanical objects.

The hallway had ball runs mounted on peg boards so the kids could put balls in and see them roll down.

They used black lights to light up the hallway. Unfortunately, they didn’t light up the long tubes as much as they liked, but they fixed them later.

The blueprints they printed looked great!

I found out from Glen that they bought florescent blue spray paint and painted the side that people could see. The florescent paint is what catches the black light and makes it glow. Black light needs a medium with florescent elements. Glen told me a little-known fact is that copy paper is actually infused with florescent elements! They printed the blueprints on wide format paper and these looked vibrant, but the best ones were printed on the thick ultra bond 46 lb paper they purchased.

Notice the Lego diagrams below, which tie into another hallway (more below).

The preschool hallway had a brighter approach, using Lego-like blocks.

The stairwell looked like Tetris with springs overhead.

I was also asked to design the stage, the backdrop of a drama, which is partly inventor’s workshop and partly battle bot competition arena. I tied it into the lobby tower design and sent plans to the construction team.

Steve and the team worked hard building the set. Here are my nephews wandering around the stage keeping themselves amused.

Here’s the end result. Great job Steve and team!

(It’s fun how this event involved my family… my working from afar, while my sister’s family were hard at work. My nephews even helped stamp CDs!)

Every year they also do a facade on the front of the building. I created this design…

… and this is what they did!!! Sooo impressed by their skills and hard work!

There were many other aspects of the event that were handled by the leaders not detailed in this blog. I enjoyed meeting weekly with the core leadership team — thank you, Glen, Corlie, Jake, Wendy, and Bill, for your tireless dedication and faithfulness!

(Thank you to Corrie Haffly/Glen Nielsen for the photos/videos!)

P.S. Smart thinking — they repurposed the stage structure for a design by adding fabric and changing lighting, so that it can stay up longer. Instead of using it for one week, now they can use it for many months and continue to add to the design over time.

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