Monday, December 29, 2014

Electronic Holiday Cards Take 2

blue is negative, black is positive
I was really excited to order my chibitronics set of LED stickers and effects.  Unfortunately it is not as cost effective as I had hoped ($50 for 10 kids to use 3 lights each plus 8 extra 3V batteries) but the stickers are much easier to use than actual LEDs alone and the diagram book is extremely helpful in mapping out your circuits. I've actually used their methods on other sewing projects I have previously posted.

For our one hour holiday card decorating program, I gave each student 3 LEDs. I had extra binder clips, batteries, (you only get 2 of each in the kit) and copper tape on hand. Unfortunately the effects stickers, which allowed the lights to blink, I ordered only came with 4 stickers for $19.99 so I kept them for a later time.

Like sewing, the circuit design is crucial. If I could go back and do this project over I wouldn't have put so much space between the positive LED branches and negative tape connecting to the slide. I also found that my positioning of the battery was all wrong. It would have been better on the top left so I could attach it to the corner of blue paper. I also tried overlaying another piece of paper between the tree and the lights but it was harder to get the lights to turn on. My first attempt is not the prettiest, but it does light up! (much more successful than the Mother's Day card hooray!).

With a stand alone program like this, you never know the level of the kids coming into the workshop. The 4th and 5th graders  had difficulty with circuit design so I started by getting them to artistically design their card first, then circuitry but when it came to the circuitry they didn't want to follow along with the templates I had printed for them. Everyone wanted to design their own unique circuit which poses a bigger challenge to the instructor to figure out individual designs. It's also hard to tell students go ahead test away when you know how much the supplies cost.

That's the trouble with tinkering. Sometimes kids do need more one to one help and they don't like experimenting with failed outcomes. Next time everyone just does one simple LED circuit together to understand the concepts and then design their own later (which sounds like it would need an extra half an hour to the program).  I should have used the tutorial videos from the chibi website with iPads on hand to supplement questions.

One crucial thing in card making is that the tape needs to be free of creases so pressing your finger down over the entire circuit will help conduct the electricity. I fixed 2 students who were ready to give up their cards that way.

At the end of the program the parents ask, what did you learn today? I always wonder did they learn anything?  Did I help them too much? I try to make it a point with every student (we ended up with 5) to reinforce how their individual circuit worked at the end of the program and always vocalize my thought process when troubleshooting the circuit design but how do you get science concepts to sink in? Are kids after a really long day of school even up for an extra educational lesson?  Food for thought.







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