Essential question: How are electronics viable additions to “crafting” for today’s young person?
"Technology is advancing so fast, as educators we can't use the traditional covered wagons if we want to keep up" (Johnson, 2014). Crafting has been around forever, but it has evolved with society. With the longevity of crafting it is definitely an advantage to include in a classroom setting. Adding electronics takes it up a notch and allows students to explore a world that they will have to interact with. By adding electronics educators give students a chance to learn skills they will need after school. There are so many possibilities out there as to where technology can take you. An even cooler thought is "now that we have developed these tools and found these materials that let us do these things, we have started to realize that, essentially, anything that we can do with paper, anything that we can do with a piece of paper and a pen we can now do with electronics" (Leah Buechley: How to "sketch" with electronics, 2012).
A lot of crafting using electronics is called "smart textiles, known as 'Wearables' or e-textiles" (Einarson, 2013). There are a few kits that I came across that could be of benefit: the LilyPad Arduino and Adafruit. "The LilyPad Arduino microcontroller board helped bring a large developer community into Wearables with its debut in 2007" (Einarson, 2013). I did not read much on Adafruit, but I do know it exists. Most of my post will be about the LilyPad Arduino.
What is so great about e-textiles? "While Lego robots are temporary prototypes that are dismantled after the class, a completed e-textile project is a permanent artifact that can be taken home and incorporated into a student’s daily life" (Buechley, 2007). Students get to design something that they can use right away and they don't have to take it apart. This helps students to see that what they are doing has an impact on their life. Most topics in education talk about textbooks, teaching techniques, and activities in the classroom. While some of this might be necessary "it fails to exploit the remarkable degree of energy and passion that young people devote to their own cultural milieu. That milieu–of hobbies, friendships and cliques, outdoor and indoor pastimes–is traditionally thought of as "extra-curricular", existing outside the sphere of educators' attention" (Buechley, 2007). Plus if you think about is students building e-textiles would experiences the same problems of engineers. "Artifacts are labor intensive to build, requiring significant amounts of time spent sewing, and mistakes are not easy to correct, necessitating the removal and reapplication of stitching" (Buechley, 2007). For this type of crafting to work Buechley (2007) suggests teaching in 2 phases: programming and then building the final project.
I also came across another kit called the Hummingbird that could be used for crafting but not e-textiles. "The kit, called Hummingbird, consists of a customized control board along with a variety of lights, sensors and motors that can be connected to the controller without soldering. Students program their creations with a free, easy-to-learn, drag-and-drop environment that requires no prior experience with programming" (Heimbuch, 2012). This kit is really cool in that students do all of the outside designing. There is not a strict program to follow and the coding can be simple as it uses Snap! or Scratch which are block based programming platforms. It can use more advanced platforms as well. So how can this be used? Here is a really cool example. "Terry Richards, who teaches high school human anatomy and physiology at The Ellis School in Pittsburgh, had her students use the kit to build models of the human arm and its musculature. 'A lot of the girls said it helped them see where muscles attached,' Richards said. 'They really had to think about where the muscles could attach on their models.' In the process, they learned how to install servos to move the elbow and wrist, wire them to the Hummingbird control board and write programs to control the movement. 'Even in high school, students aren't usually introduced to this technology unless they are on the robotics team,' she added" (Heimbuch, 2012). This is an amazing project and one I never would have thought of.
Below are a few examples of other projects that could be made.
Reflecting back to what crafting was in the past shows how far we have come as a society. "We are indebted to all the educational pioneers that have left a large legacy of sacrifice and learning for us to enjoy. Because of them, we have seen tremendous advances in student learning both in quantity and quality. Just as I revere and honor my own pioneer heritage, I also honor those pioneers of education who had the courage to do things that no one else had done before. Perhaps one of the best ways we can honor them is to keep moving forward and exploring the new frontiers of education" (Johnson, 2014). I believe with this quote it is important to combine electronics and crafting because they can help us continue to move forward just like the pioneers.
Buechley, L., Eisenberg, M., & Elumeze, N. (2007). Towards a curriculum for electronic textiles in the high school classroom. SIGCSE Bull. ACM SIGCSE Bulletin, 39(3), 28. Retrieved July 21, 2016, from http://web.media.mit.edu/~leah/publications/buechley_ITiCSE_07.pdf
Einarson, E. (2013, January 2). Go Bionic With These Wearable Arduino Projects. Retrieved July 21, 2016, from http://www.wired.com/2013/01/wearable-arduinos/
Heimbuch, J. (2012, July 16). Hummingbird Kit Combines Crafts with Robotics for School Kids. Retrieved July 21, 2016, from http://www.treehugger.com/clean-technology/hummingbird-kit-combines-crafts-robotics-school-kids.html
Johnson, B. (2014, July 29). Honoring Pioneers in Education. Retrieved July 21, 2016, from http://www.edutopia.org/blog/honoring-pioneers-education-ben-johnson
Leah Buechley: How to "sketch" with electronics [Video file]. (2012, November 15). In YouTube. Retrieved July 21, 2016, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vTBp0Z5GPeI
Qui, J., Clifford, J., & Chan, B. (Directors). (2012, April 23). Interactive Light Painting: Pu Gong Ying Tu (Dandelion Painting) [Video file]. In Vimeo. Retrieved July 21, 2016, from https://vimeo.com/40904471