More WOW Photos. We had an amazing night at the Microsoft NERD for the Citizen Schools City-wide STEM WOW!. The kids did an amazing job explaining the materials and process behind building their TechnoSwag projects. They told many interested members of the community about simple and parallel circuits, conductive thread, LEDs and the anode and cathode, the Lilypad Arduino open source microcontroller, and how they programmed the microcontroller to light up their projects. It was a memorable night!
Weeks 5, 6 and 7 of our TechnoSwag apprenticeship have all been pretty similar in our class plan: the kids are busy working on their main projects.
We made sure they finished their designs and that the designs were feasible in session 5. I took them home in between classes, reviewed each one, then wrote the student a note about what they had done well and if any changes were needed.
They then began preparing their LEDs, bending the positive (anode) lead one way, and the negative (cathode) lead another. Most of them got the hang of this quickly.
Then they traced their patterns on the back of their fabric banner or patch, glued on their Lilypad Arduino, and began sewing.
Some of the kids are quite good and fast at sewing, and for others it is a brand new (and sometime frustrating) task. At the end of Class 6, I took everyone’s project home again, and reviewed to make sure they were on track. A few of them had mistakes in their project that would prevent them from completing successfully, so I made notes so that me and my fellow instructors could help them out.
As of the end of class 7, two of the students had finished their sewing and will be ready to begin programming in our next class. The rest have at least one or 2 more classes before they will finish sewing and will be ready to begin programming. We are running a bit behind what I had planned, but fortunately we will have 1 extra week to work on the projects, so that will help significantly. We are supposed to reserve sessions 9 and 10 for WOW! planning, but now we can do that in 10 and 11 and also perhaps use some of that time to finish the projects (since I’m not sure everyone will be done after session 9).
For session 8, we have a special visitor: Dr. Amon Millner : http://www.olin.edu/faculty_staff/Bios/bio_amillner.html
This week in TechnoSwag Session 4, we started work on our main project, which is to sew LEDs and a Lilypad Arduino into a piece of fabric. I started off with a few minutes of overview on the Lilypad - what it is, how it works, and how we will program it to light up our LEDs. Pictured above is the intro slide I used to describe this powerful little wearable micro-controller.
Then I introduced the first step in the project, which is for the kids to design their pattern. I gave them a printed copy of their designs (the same designs I had transferred to fabric using iron-on transfers) and showed them how to annotate the image with the location of all the LEDs, the Lilypad, the + and - leads, and the paths for their conductive thread. They are to connect all the negative leads to the negative lead on the lilypad, then run paths from the positive leads on the Lilypad out to each of the LEDs.
The kids made pretty good progress…several finished their designs by the end of the session, and a few others are very close to being done. I’m particularly impressed with a few students, who did a very nice, thorough job on their designs. So many will start sewing on the main project on Tuesday, which will keep us on track to finish up in week 8 of the apprenticeship, leaving weeks 9 and 10 for WOW planning.
We also had a special guest visitor: Dale Dougherty, editor of Make Magazine and Maker Faire, who was in town and stopped by to see us. Dale enjoyed meeting the kids and watching our progress. He also took time to show the kids two videos: one of all the cool stuff people make at Maker Faire, and the second of a Quad Copter that was built using an Arduino - to show the power of the platform to the kids.