Before heading to Paillard this summer, a collection of focus groups was compiled by the camp organizers. As a participant, we were able to choose one of these groups to explore, discuss, and prototype a specific etextile topic in more depth. The concept of each group was outlined a post, and as participants we used this as a starting point to launch our ideas.
Outline of the Educational Toolkits Focus Group
“Many summer camp participants are engaged in education, from university lecturers to workshop leaders at youth centers. As the practice of eTextiles combines knowledge from various disciplines, teaching eTextiles requires educators to cover various topics, such as textile techniques, electronics, programming.. and so on. Is there an ultimate toolkit for teaching eTextiles? What are the topics that need to be taught? How do you explain them to novices?”
See more on the Educational Toolkits launching page.
Participants joined the group by commenting on the launch page, and below are the names of everyone that signed up for this group. These were:
So, what did we end up discussing and creating? From this point everything in this post will detail our experience at the camp, and illustrate the outcomes we made as a collaborative group or as individuals working under the “education” umbrella.
Brief overview of what our time at summer camp was like as a group —>
(in no particular order)
– Drink wine
– Find and organize themes from brainstorm + create more mind tornadoes
– Drink wine
– Research game play + embodied learning activities
– Write out learning activities
– Test learning activities
– present 3 minutes to whole camp and receive feedback on how to format final presentation
– Present prototypes and activities for 50 minutes
– Drink wine
The first day and a half we discussed our educational experiences and shared what we were interested in exploring. It started as a good ol’ fashion brain dump which was later loosely organized into categories and areas of focus. It was wonderful to be in a relatively large group, this allowed us to explore many facets of education while collaborating and getting constant feedback along the way. There were many roads to go down and threads to follow, but we needed to narrow down ideas in order to get hands on.
There were really lovely phrases that sprang up here and there, one that rang out was “kit of process”, which is what we ultimately realized we were creating. It was a broad enough term to explore within, and it emphasized the broad nature of the process we go through while learning and teaching.
Some challenging questions we asked along the way that informed our final work:
– Who is our audience? Teacher or Student?
– What background do they have? Fashion or Engineering?
– What resources will be available to them? No budget or expense as needed?
The answer was everything and nothing. This Kit of Process would be a template for people to build themselves using what was available to them. This way we felt like we hit all the grays in between the black and white, which lead to another lovely utterance that made us all laugh, “50 shades of wearables”.
Final Points of Interest
With so many interesting topics and ways to spend our time at camp, three main topics were teased out :
– Swatch and prototyping kit
– Embodied learning activities
– Go cheap and delve deeper
Listed below are the three points of interest that we prototyped, developed, and presented. You can find links to the corresponding projects with tutorials on how to make you own swatches, sensors and embodied learning activities.
1) Swatch and Wearable Rapid Prototyping Kit
The rapid prototyping kit is a library of swatches and handmade components that an educator can use to make a basic kit of eTextile practices. The kit is an online library that documents and details resources needed to create a physical kit. It would be used by educators to build their own kit and in the process learn about eTextile practices and materials. Educators would be able to customize their kits according to their interest, and the kit can then be used as a teaching aid. The swatch is also a working component and can be used to prototype through connections made using poppers.
Details of the swatches we prototyped are listed below under the following categories: inputs, outputs, testing, programming, microcontrollers, material library, techniques, and context. These swatches can be anything, this is what we as a group imagined and had time to build.
As well as swatches, we developed activity cards. An important aspect that we wanted to explore was embodied learning (i.e. learning through physical activities such as dance, role-playing, games, etc). We planned to include these activities in the kit through pocket instruction cards placed amongst the swatches. A card would introduce new and fun ways to teach people of all backgrounds things foreign to them, such as programming principles, how a computer sorts information, or how to sew a back stitch.
– knitted stretch sensor
– stretch sensor
– tilt sensor
– Flora NeoPixels
– conductive thread speaker
– embedded hardware speaker
– rack and pinion linear movement
– 3 volt battery
– 9 volt battery
– an area for a multimeter, embedded or removable that has continuity testing, and more voltage/current options (we didn’t get time to make this)
– “Recipe cards” with instructions for physical activities and games.
these would include instructions on how to play / do an activity i.e. sorting algorithm, group loops, arduino bingo etc. (see the sorting game in action in the images below)
– ATtiny85 breakout
– Flora breakout
– LilyPad with integrated pin function diagram and broken out power and ground buses
Various materials displayed and labeled, imagined in clear envelopes ready to be pulled out and interacted with.
– metallic wools, conductive threads, conductive and resistive fabrics, wool felt, etc.
Showcasing examples of techniques and exploring how a swatch can be a learning activity in itself.
– basic hand sewing stitches, one swatch explored how teach the back stitch through musical output
– basic machine sewing stitches
– “Wild cards” that would give design challenges and introduce and ways to think about narratives and context (i.e. play with the swatches, but don’t use your hands!).
– We developed the concept of “Human Breadboards” a way of using the swatches in context, either as a game, dance, or some kind of movement based activity that relates to the body and space.
2) Embodied Learning
– UV Sensor game
– Sorting Algorithm activity
– If/Else Statement activity
3) Go Cheaper, Delve Deeper : How to Make Cheap and Accessible Sensors
Each focus group had 50 minutes to share the work we made over 3 dyas, we organized our presentation into an introduction (3 minutes), three rotating stations (3 groups at each station, 7 minutes each), a physical activity that involved the whole camp (7 minutes), and a final discussion at the end (20 minutes).
Announcement that we will be splitting up everyone into 3 groups to experience 3 activities.
1) UV Sensor game
2) Sorting Algorithm
3) Presentation and demonstration of how swatch and prototyping kit works.
– swatches are laid out as they would be ready to pull from
– swatches are connected and interacted with on dress form to show how to rapid prototype with them
– a speaker, AtTiny and How-to-Back-Stitch swatch are pulled, connected and the back stitch is taught through musical output.
Physical Algorithm Activity
Everybody in the camp participated in an if/else statement game. The aim was to embody and contextualize a loop through physical activity.
As a group, questions were compiled to lead and we were open to questions.