2016 3D Design & Fabrication Challenge Complete

Our school year has ended and so has this year’s 3D Design & Fab Challenge at The School. I’m always revising the parts and processes of this unit each year, and (hopefully) improving it on each revision. That said, I think that this year’s crew of 5th graders have performed outstanding feats of design. Each group went through 2 – 4 design revisions, and while I would budget even more time for revisions next year, I was really happy with their work. We ended the unit with a pop-up gallery of all the student work and samples of their design documents, interviews, drawings and early prototypes. Some final products were 3D printed, few were hand-made from craft materials, and a few others were hybrids of the two. Parents and teachers came to experience the work and it was great to see the students talking about their process and their products with adults!

Unsurprisingly, we have authentic, student-designed solutions to these authentic problems that teachers posed to us many months ago. Enjoy the photos and captions below of all the student designs:

While I personally would love to share these 3D files on a hosted platform like Thingiverse or YouMagine right away, I should talk to those students first. My fifth graders are certainly under 13-years old, which means that they can’t yet have accounts on these sites based on privacy concerns, but more importantly I never got their permission to share their work for them. 🙂

One of my concerns about this project was that I never truly touched on issues of IP, CC licensing, or the Open Source movement with the students. A new goal for me next year is to bring these issues to them, and to encourage them to find a way to share their designs with the world via these Open Source platforms. For now, we’ll all have to enjoy these photos until a future share date!


Code-able Fashion Pt. 3

As designers it’s important to make time to reflect and share your progress and your challenges. Sharing with your peers will boost your confidence, when you receive some kind words and compliments on your progress. Sharing with your peers will remind you that you’re not struggling alone, when you hear empathetic “me-toos” as you express your frustration over challenges. Sharing with your peers will also help you think more deeply as it requires you to pause and reflect on your decisions, and because the group always has questions and feedback about your process and your decisions.  


Code-able Fashion Pt. 2.5

Teachers are learners too! In order to force myself to learn how to craft and code etextiles, I’ve been working on my own piece of wearable tech, which is ready to reveal! It’s my avatar sweater:


It’s an old sweater + felt + thread + Arduino Gemma + (2) Adafruit NeoPixel RGB LEDs + code. I love it… probably because I made it… and it took me forever… but I did it, so I love it! I think I’m going to have to wear it for the rest of the week!


Code-able Fashion Pt. 2

We’re 3 days into our e-textiles short course, Code-able Fashion, and we’re all learning a lot, kids and adults! A few quick notes I’ve taken as we progress:

  • We could have a whole IPW project just on sewing and “stitch-craft” (nevermind the programming!)
  • We could have a whole IPW project just on programming wearables (nevermind the sewing!)
  • Differentiating is even harder when your students are a mixed-age group from 8-12
  • Sharing the work of pioneers like Maddy Maxey, Limor Fried, Leah Buechley is a great way to start off each work day with kids!
  • Embroidery hoops are AMAZING!
  • The boys in the group (only 2?!) love the work, but they suggest naming the course “Code-able Clothing” in the future, because they feel the word ‘fashion’ scared off many other boys for some reason.

Code-able Fashion Pt. 1

Integrated Projects Week is here again and this time I’m partnering with K-2 Ed Tech Gina Marcel to execute of week devoted to wearable technology that we are calling ‘Codeable Fashion’. Here’s our course description:

We’re going to combine the worlds of fashion and computer programming by exploring cutting-edge wearable electronics in this IPW. You’ll learn how to remix a piece of your own clothing by sewing in tiny computers with soft circuits. Then you’ll add sensors or lights that you can program yourself.

Let’s take fashion and technology to the next level. It’s time to hack your hoodie, program your party dress, and code your clothes!

We thought to create this short course because we read so many student suggestions requesting both fashion and programming projects. The decision to make it a mashup of the two is really exciting for us with all the e-textiles work that Gina has done and the programming work that I have experience with.

Me tinkering with some wearable electronics.

Me tinkering with some wearable electronics.

My layout for a LED knit cap.

My layout for a LED knit cap.