CoderDojo Dún Laoghaire ( @Sandra-Maguire) and Hello Bezlo are running an event specially designed for teenage girls who would like to know more about fashion tech.
Has anyone else run similar events using wearable tech?
What other events have you held that you found really engaged younger or older girls?
What resources did you use?
What kind of hardware did you use?
@Nuala-Nic-Éil Hi Nuala, We ran a session on wearable tech as part of our Future Makers "summer school" in 2014. It wasn't aimed at girls specifically though - in fact we only had one girl in the group.
We used Lilypad Protosnap kits and the young people seemed to enjoy it (the main problem was that very few of the boys had absorbed any previous instruction on sewing, so they had to work quite hard at that aspect).
We've never managed to do another session on wearable tech as the kit is fairly expensive and in the absence of the funding we had for that project it hasn’t really been possible.expen
@Claire-Quigley Was it these Lilypads you used?
A CoderDojo parent @Rachel-Schoene was saying she found these Gemma microcontroller's by Adafruit really useful for her daughters wearable project.
Also did you use any print outs or videos to help?
@Nuala-Nic-Éil the session was developed and led by Chris Martin - I don’t think he used any videos. His website is here if you’d like to get in touch with him https://sspog.wordpress.com/ I’ve done a couple of projects myself using a Lillypad and a Gemma and I found the Adafruit instructions for various projects really good: https://learn.adafruit.com/category/wearables
They usually contain videos as well.
I found the Lilypad controller a lot easier to deal with than the Gemma, largely due to the setup. The Gemma has a few quirks because it has such a small amount of memory. I spent about 3 hours on stackoverflow etc. tracking down updated libraries and finding out how to actually get it to upload the code (press the small rubber button on the Gemma and hit “Upload” on the Arduino C editor while the wee red light is flashing).
But once you get it up and running it’s very easy to use and it’s not too expensive.
@Claire-Quigley Thanks for sharing. Yes, I will definitely get in touch with him.
I was also talking to a member of the Tilburg @ Code Brabant Dojo in the Netherlands, who have made some awesome felt masks with LEDs.
They used CR2032 battery holders, LED's with rolled up pins, and conductive thread on the back of masks cut out of coloured felt. @Lisa-Evelyn-Rombout
@Nuala-Nic-Éil That's a really cool idea - and gets round the problem of varying sewing skills!
@Nuala-Nic-Éil Sorry for my late reaction, thanks for posting the pics!
We had a similar problem that has been mentioned before - the Lilypad kits and the like were a bit too expensive for us to give to all the participants, but of course for this kind of event you want people to be able to take their project home.
So we used just the conductive thread, battery holders and the cheaper LED's to make masks, pins and bracelets of felt (based on the Sparkfun instructions here)
It worked quite well, younger kids could make the simpler pins, older kids could work on masks or with elastic for the bracelets. And we did a little workshop on electrical circuits (parallel vs serial), and let the kids experiment w/ different circuits before they sewed them together. I'll see if I can put up some resources on it soon!
@Lisa-Evelyn-Rombout Yes Lilypads are quite expensive (Best i've seen is the board on it's own for 37e). The ada fruit Flora while cheaper (20e) is still too expensive to get one for each of the children to have their own realistically.
I would prefer something they use their coding skills with, but I guess offering both options would be good, with the masks for the younger attendees to make, stitching with conductive thread batteries & LEDs for older attendees and then show videos and have a Flora available for those interested in coding their wearables, that one group could work on together.
The more I see tutorial videos like this the more I want to try them out. Clearly wearables aren't just for the kids
@Nuala-Nic-Éil Yes definitely! I also used it to try and get them interested in circuits in general, and then afterwards get them working with Arduino for the older kids and LittleBits for the youngest.
There is also the possibility of course to put a button in the circuit, or a variable resistor like a potentiometer or lightsensor. Then you can show the difference between soldering interactivity into your circuit vs coding it, and when to make which choice.
@Nuala-Nic-Éil Like this circuit for example:
Hey @Claire-Quigley & @Nuala-Nic-Éil,
Sorry I'm late to the party guys! My daughter (9) loves her Gemma but set up was tricky, also the solder space is small so her project has to be treated with care. But she just made a flashy badge so not to much wear and tear was experienced. I'm really excited to learn of different arduino programmable wearables, that may be easier and more efficient to use. As a mum I wouldn't mind spending extra money on something like a lilypad that is as you say @Claire-Quigley a lot easier to deal with
Time is not my friend these days.
@Lisa-Evelyn-Rombout very cool. Really like the idea of integrating it into teaching about showing the difference between soldering interactivity into your circuit vs coding it and trying out that dark detecting led (though might leave out the u mold plastic part).
We had our Dojo yesterday and I tried out some with a small group. I went through showing them different LEDs and batteries, explaining the charges, looked at circuits and tried out the wearable leds and batteries with crocodile clips and then we sewed some into felt to make simple wristbands. The sewing and threading conductive thread was definitely the trickiest part for those who tried it out, though our Dojo is quiet young so it would be easier with older children.
Here's what we came up with...
@Nuala-Nic-Éil Really cool! Like the break-out board as well, have to look into that. I bought some darning / tapestry needles for the smaller children, because they're not as sharp and have very large eyes which makes the threading easier but then the fabric needs to be able to work with that as well.
@Nuala-Nic-Éil I made one of these a couple of years ago - unfortunately it's now in for refactoring into another skirt after I burnt a small hole in the circuitry https://www.dropbox.com/s/48e1idrjfiuvxt3/2014-11-25 22.24.44.mov?dl=0
I used to wear it at workshops for young people facing barriers to getting involved in digital making as an unusual example of coding, and the sheer unusualness of having a piece of clothing you could program to do things really caught the attention of both boys and girls.
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