PLIX Inflatables offers patrons a chance to imagine and design interactive, inflatable creations using recycled materials (like chip bags!). This activity explores pneumaticsβ€”a field of engineering that makes use of air under pressure, with applications in a wide range of fields (like art and architecture; mechanical engineering; fashion; and even deep sea exploration!). Here, you'll combine the power of air with flexible, lightweight materials to bring your creations to life!

This activity was inspired by the research of Media Lab graduate student Kyung Yun Choi and was developed in partnership with Allie Affinito (New York Public Library, New York) and Dave Fink (Michigan City Public Library, Indiana) as part of the PLIX Co-Design program.

What we ❀️ about this activity

  • Turns trash to treasure! Inflatables is all about using recycled (or upcycled) materials to create; with plenty of material already on-hand, there is plenty of room for patrons to take risks and experiment as they create!
  • Multiple paths to success. There is no right or wrong way to create an inflatable, so patrons can forge their own path by exploring new methods of crafting designs.
  • Endless possibilities. Inflatables and pneumatics have applications in a massive range of diverse disciplines (art; design; engineering; architecture). This means that not only can patrons explore what interests them most, but also that you can host inflatables workshops multiple times with different themes.
  • Sky’s the limit! There are many ways to augment this activity for those interested by integrating more sophisticated technologies, techniques, and makerspace tools (like 3D printers; microcontrollers and sensors; chemical reactions).

Workshop Prompt Inspiration

  • Toy factory 🐸🧸 β€” Animate your favorite character (or create a new one of your own) and use air to add a delightful motion.
  • Soft cyborg πŸ€–πŸ¦Ύ β€” Express different types of motion to make ordinary objects extraordinary. Look at robotics, prosthetics, and augmented humans for inspiration!
  • Whimsical wearables πŸŽ©πŸ’ β€” Design and show off an interactive inflatable that you can wear to a lightweight fashion show or puffy costume party!
  • Air-chitecture πŸ—Όβ˜οΈ β€” Sculpt air into beautiful and unexpected structures. Consider adding helium to elevate your art to new heights!

Try it!

On our PLIX Activity Repository, you'll find the full documentation for the Inflatables activity! All of our PLIX activities include background information, materials lists, workshop guides, and facilitator resources.

We think it’s important to share what we’re making so anyone can get started with creative STEAM learning. All of our PLIX learning materials are openly licensed (CC BY-SA 4.0) and free to download.

Share your experience running these workshops on the PLIX Discussion Forum or on social media using #PLIXInflatables 🎈