About a year ago, I took a dive off my comfortable, low-tech beach into rather high-tech waters.
I have learned basic circuitry, adding both lights and motors, and can now solder. I am blogging and even using Twitter. Lots of fun projects have come out of this learning, but recently I have felt that I sort of have hit a wall, and that it was time to learn something that has forever sounded scary and above my head- programming. Yikes, shiver.
|John Cohn, mad scientist. Photo- Wikipedia.|
The amount of information in this man's head is unfathomable, but despite his advanced understanding of all things tech, he is very patient with people like me who are beginning at zero.
|John helping a a child and mom solder teeny tiny spots on the headband they made|
|And now the world shall be a rainbow! Bam!|
In the end, I turned my headband into a belt, actually, which I then decided to should rock for the December Generator Social, which was all about wearable technology. To go with the belt, I made a pair of light-up ruffles to put on my heels. This design came from Becky Stern, of Adafruit, in one of her fantastic tutorials. The thing is, I tried and failed three times with the conductive thread following Becky's directions. I don't know why, but my battery case, no matter how snugly I sewed around the battery, never had enough pressure to make the contacts stay on if I wasn't pinching them. As I was about to go to bed, visions of a paper circuit appeared, and figuring that sleep could wait, tested out the idea. Success! Solder, copper tape, a folded piece of paper, some tape, and a battery lit up my shoes for me!
My feet all glammed up and ready to go out!
Lauren Larken from Flynn Elementary's afterschool program wore a tiny sweater swag! An LED throwie attached to a small angel ornament and bit of pine.
|Proving brooches can be hip.|
Jenn Karson of UVM's maker space and founder of VermontMakers spoke on some of the things that make wearble tech appealling, including several dichotomies- elements of the visible versus invisible, soft and hard components, as well as disciplines that are traditionally areas highly genderized- sewing for women, electronics for men.
Masks by Eric Roy, who has automated parts of his leather mask-making processes by using a laser cutter.
|Handpainted leather masks|
Blinking scarves, crocheted light-up headbands, high-tech winter hats, LED embroidery...
|Nance Nahmias, Generator's Outreach Coordinator, all decked out|
|LED trimmed embroidery and applique. Rudolph's nose has never been brighter!|
|At right, Lucie deLaBruere, of CreateMakeLearn|
So, this interest of mine has evolved for one very clear reason- my own son. He is interested in all things electrical and mechanical, and in order to support those interests I needed to grow a little knowledge. So that's how I found myself playing with SnapCircuits a couple years ago, trying to catch up with him and learn a thing or two.
That's what is great about kids- not just my own, but all of my students as well- is that the relationships are so cyclical. They bring ideas and interests, and in order to foster them more fully, I learn new things, then share my new learning with them, and in turn they teach me more or ask great questions, which leads to more learning. And that's what lifelong learning is all about- inquiry, and sharing discoveries big and small with others.