Week ten: How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person?

I find myself a crafty individual and I believe many people are crafty given the right substance.  My substance of preference is paper and wine corks-used in separate hobbies.  The idea of Arduino is really pushing my boundaries; I’m not sure if I’m even using the word properly.  Even after I did my research I sat back and gave my brain a break to digest it and I realized that I didn’t know how to define Arduino…so I looked it up.  According to Arduino-Genuino, they say “it is a useful C component that allows the programmer to give a name to a constant value before the program is compiled.  Defined constants in arduino don’t take up any program memory space on the chip.  The compiler will replace references to these constants with the defined value at compile time.”  Ugh?  Another source said something similar but used even more words (C++) that needed defining.  In the end, I decided that this was electrical jargon that I didn’t need to know…or want to know?

Ok, so back up, right?  What is my background knowledge?  I understand simple circuits, light up sneakers on kids, musical greeting cards, and that I will be teaching some electrical ideas in my new sixth grade class.  Above all, having lived in Alaska for 12 years, I wish I had some kind of heater in my boots, gloves, and face mask.  But I didn’t.  I read label after label of “rated to -100 degrees F’, just to find out when winter camping at zero degrees F, I was packing up to go home in my Sorels rated to -100 degrees F.

I watched the TED talk by Leah Buechley from 2012 and she was showing us some new substances to create a circuit.  I didn’t quite understand how the musical keyboard actually worked though.  But I’m curious as to why we need new materials to create a circuit.  She says that the old ones are slow, expensive, and the outcome is small, square, flat, hard, and unattractive.  So if circuits and other electrical objects make up the guts of something, then it is the exterior that makes something attractive.  I would LOVE to own a Tesla electric car, but I can’t afford one.  A friend of mine owns one and I consider the Christmas Day-joy-ride my best gift that day.  So how is it that her new electronic parts are considered attractive?  I’m pretty sure what she really meant was that the fun exterior covering her electronics is the attractive part.  From what I can see, her LilyPad Arduino is flat, hard, small, and unattractive.  Ok, so the shape changed.

Why do I feel like I’ve been in a bad mood for two weeks straight?  I just don’t buy it.  I’d be happy to have my students craft (create) something with everyday tech pieces.  I might be missing something here, so trust me, I will be reading more classmate blogs to see if I am.  Here is an analogy:  Say I want my class to sew a shirt in Home Economic, I could give them all kinds of fabric to choose from: cotton, silk, corduroy, taffeta, polyester, and the list goes on.  They could use a nylon zipper or metal zipper.   How many different kinds of thread is there?  See where I am going with this.  If my students can understand how to craft/create something out of everyday electronic pieces and then package it in something pretty like their new chiffon shirt, with the metal zipper then I think I would give them an A+.

References

Amazon (2015). Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_0_7?url=search-alias%3Delectronics&field-keywords=arduino&sprefix=arduino%2Caps%2C209&rh=n%3A172282%2Ck%3Aarduino

Arduino Genuino (2015). Define. Retrieved from https://www.arduino.cc/en/Reference/Define

Buechley, L. (2012). How to sketch with electronics. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTBp0Z5GPeI

Lewis, J. (2014). Five myths that everyone believes about arduino (that aren’t true).  Retrieved from https://www.baldengineer.com/5-arduino-myths.html

Mellis, D. (2014). Sew electric with Leah Buechley interview. Retrieved from https://blog.arduino.cc/2014/02/04/sew-electric-with-leah-buechley-interview/

Terranove, A. (2014). 10 fabulous and fashionable wearable projects from Becky Stern. Retrieved from http://makezine.com/2014/07/15/10-fabulous-and-fashionable-wearable-projects-from-becky-stern/

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10 thoughts on “Week ten: How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person?

  1. Kendra- I feel the same way about Arduino. It is pushing my buttons. I get so frustrated when it doesn’t work and I keep trying and keep trying. I get so happy though when it finally does or when I actually get it to work the first try. I think the kids though would enjoy something they created that has electronics an can light up. I think it would be pretty cool!

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    • I am also frustrated with Arduino. I am never sure if it is working the way it is supposed to be working. I have found that having my nieces work with me helps. My builds never work on the first try, but sometimes they do on the second. I do like it over all, but I couldn’t use it with my first graders.

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      • I think I had one project that I did that actually worked on the first try. All the other ones I have to play with the wiring or something like that to get it to work. One of them I just skipped because I couldn’t get it to work and didn’t want to wait ten minutes to see if the light turned on. I try several times before moving on.

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  2. I really enjoyed your blog! When doing my research, I didn’t come across Arduino, but it sounds quite complicated. I give you props for even understanding the basics of circuitry because I do not. When watching all the videos and learning about the different types of crafting with technology, it all felt over my head. For me, I think I would go about it as starting in a MakerSpace where students could learn on their own and create things – then they could bring the knowledge they have gained and shared it with the class. The wearable technology is interesting to me because, personally, I wouldn’t want a shirt that could light up with the press of a button. When I think about where the battery would go, I imagine it might be uncomfortable to wear. However, as technology keeps changing and emerging, who knows what the world will come up with next. 🙂

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  3. This is a great post! I feel this is something that could be used in a makerspace to enhance something else. The one thing I did like in the videos I watched was the GPS unit. I think it would be neat to put it on a balloon and send it up and have the kids track where it went then they could use the data for weather research on a science project. Personally I would like the GPS unit for my cat, to see where she goes at night!

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  4. I felt confused at first too when I started researching this week, and I commend you for being so honest about your thoughts and feelings on this topic in your blog! I decided to just roll with it, and after I gave myself some time to stew on the idea I found that I was able to see some benefits to this kind of work, but I agree, it isn’t easy.

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  5. The Operation costume was an awesome idea! And if you added circuitry to it that would be even better. I am new to the maker movement and the Arduino projects have taken me way out of my comfort zone. Children love to create and make so incorporating electronics into making gives them a chance to be even more creative in making something that is unique.

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