Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Creativity Labs: Gathering STEAM: E-textiles at South Fayette School District's STEAM Innovation Summer Institute

Creativity Labs: Gathering STEAM: E-textiles at South Fayette School District's STEAM Innovation Summer Institute:



South Fayette School District in the Pittsburgh area has been a hub for educational innovation for several years now, pioneering a STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math) Studio model and hosting the STEAM Innovation Summer Institute to train educators to spread these innovations to their own classrooms. The Creativity Labs has worked with them before (links) to provide professional development in e-textiles. This summer, we were happy to do so again as part of our summer service activities.


To learn more about the awesome e-textile projects pictured here, read the rest of the post below!


 As part of the STEAM Innovation Summer Institute last week, South Fayette invited teachers from across the western Pennsylvania area to participate in STEAM workshops ranging from robotics to game design to environmental literacy. Five participants--three science teachers and two Family and Consumer Sciences (FCS) teachers--chose to attend an e-textile workshop hosted by the Creativity Labs and our partners at Sparkfun Education.

For the first two days of the workshop, Sophia from the Creativity Labs led the teachers in learning about circuits, creating an e-bookmark project, making a LilyTiny project of their choice, and beginning to program in Modkit Micro. Even those teachers who were not well-versed in sewing enjoyed the chance to create and personalize projects that combined crafting and circuitry.


This Chemistry teacher's e-bookmark consists of a battery holder on the back, sewn with conductive thread to a push-button switch and two sewable LilyPad LEDs. She customized it to fit her class's theme!
One of the FCS teachers works on sewing LilyPad LEDs to the pre-programmed LilyTiny, which makes the lights flash in different patterns.
This Science teacher was the first to figure out how to program LEDs to blink in Modkit!

On the last two days of the workshop, Angela Sheehan from Sparkfun Education joined Sophia to facilitate working with the ProtoSnap LilyPad Development Simple Board. Angela shared a great many e-textile projects as inspiration, as well as her expertise from a great deal of work on e-textile workshops with teachers and youth. On the last day of the workshop, Angela shared some insulation techniques such as using fabric glue or iron-on interfacing to shield the conductive thread stitches from touching each other and causing dangerous short circuits.

The final projects the teachers created were ambitious and creative! They programmed the LilyPad Simple microcontroller in the block-based programming software Modkit to make LEDs flash and the LilyPad buzzer play music notes. Angela helped some of them to program a momentary switch as well. Finally they sewed all these components onto textiles of their choice, resulting in the projects below:

This Science teacher sewed two red and two green LEDs onto this ugly Christmas sweater. Her buzzer plays "Jingle Bells." The LilyPad and buzzer are both on the underside of the sweater.



This Science teacher used iron-on decals to attach the "Jedi Master" letters to this jersey, and sewed on a white Yoda patch. She programmed the lights to flash in order from Yoda outward, mimicking a lightsaber coming to life.



This FCS teacher added lights to the teeth of "Bac-Man," a bacteria monster puppet used to teach kids about hygiene. She added a tongue with a momentary switch made of conductive fabric, so that the lights light up when the puppet's mouth is closed, and the puppet makes a noise from the buzzer when the mouth is opened.



This FCS teacher decided to attach both her LilyPad and buzzer to this jacket with snaps so they could be removed when the jacket needs to be washed. She added four white LEDs, and her buzzer plays "Morning Has Broken."



This Science teacher designed a print-out iron-on decal that contained all of her favorite things, ironed it onto the shirt, and then added nine lights in varying colors and a buzzer that plays the chorus from "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun."

The Creativity Labs was proud to continue our relationship of innovation with South Fayette School District and Sparkfun Education! We wish our teacher participants all the best as they bring e-textiles back to their classrooms!

Special thanks, as always, to Aileen Owens, Director of Technology and Innovation at South Fayette, who invited us, as well as to everyone who helped her to put together this immensely successful STEAM Innovation Institute.

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