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‪Mustached pig, lightsaber, and crossbody purse, oh my! So many different designs in our Class V sewable circuits unit! #MakerEd #STEAM @brearleynyc @lectrifyit‬

Another year, another collection of super creative designs from these Class V girls at The Brearley School. This year, we used battery holders from Lectrify. Next year, I’m hoping to use the metallic thread in lovely colors (rather than the usual grey-ish color) which belatedly arrived.

I’m hoping to launch an afterschool activity, Wearable Wires, where we can spend a bit more time on wearable creations and include some kind of microcontroller (LilypadGemmaMicro:Bit), sensors (light, sound, temperature, heartbeat), fancy lights (Lily Tiny,Flora NeoPixel), and some programming (Arduino, MakeCode)…

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#Garageband and @Arduino light-up album covers in 8th Music at @The_School. #musedchat #MakerEd #STEAM

@EmilySticco and I spent the semester integrating Technology into her #BitsOfMusic 8th Grade Music elective. Our first project involved constructing cardboard instruments and making them play music with MakeyMakeys and Scratch. You can see posts about that project here.

Our second project entailed having students compose original music in Garageband. Students then designed and painted an album cover on a 12×12″ canvas and strung it with LEDs in parallel circuits – this required using wire cutters, wire strippers, an awl, and needle nose pliers. Lastly, an Arduino was attached to get the LEDs to light up in patterns that complimented their music. 

Each color of LED was connected in an autonomous parallel circuit – I described these as “tracks” – and I asked students to color code their tracks using the same color wire as the LED when possible for the positive leg (the anodes) and black for the grounded leg (the cathodes). 

These were inaugural units, and Emily are I are really proud of our plans and our students’ work. We’re hopeful it will be even better next year – for instance, we’d like there to be some sort of microphone or sensor input which recognizes particular pitches causing different color LEDs to light up. That would be awesome…
Here’s a video of my cardboard prototype with three colors of simultaneously looping flashing LEDs:

Here are photos taken while building my cardboard prototype:

Here is a student’s finished album cover with one color of LEDs:

Here is a student’s finished album cover with two colors of LEDs:

Here are photos of the 8th graders designing and wiring their light-up album covers:

Different Arduino programs or “sketches” were used in this project due to time constraints and the level of difficulty employed by each student’s design. Here are two examples below which students could alter with different numbers in order to blink lights on (HIGH) and off (LOW):

1. This first one has up to three LEDs lighting up one after the other rather than simultaneously using the delay command.

// the setup function runs once when you press reset or power the board

void setup() {
// initialize digital pins 11, 12, and 13 as outputs.
pinMode(13, OUTPUT);
pinMode(12, OUTPUT);
pinMode(11, OUTPUT);

// the loop function runs over and over again forever

void loop() {
digitalWrite(13, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(200); // wait for 2/10 of a second
digitalWrite(13, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(100); // wait for 1/10 of a second
digitalWrite(12, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(200); // wait for 2/10 of a second
digitalWrite(12, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(100); // wait for 1/10 of a second
digitalWrite(11, HIGH); // turn the LED on (HIGH is the voltage level)
delay(200); // wait for 2/10 of a second
digitalWrite(11, LOW); // turn the LED off by making the voltage LOW
delay(100); // wait for 1/10 of a second

2. This second one has up to three LEDs lighting up simultaneously without the delay command. (I found the code in this post here).

/* Blink Multiple LEDs without Delay
* Turns on and off several light emitting diode(LED) connected to a digital pin, without using the delay() function. This means that other code can run at the same time without being interrupted by the LED code.*/

int led1 = 11; // LED connected to digital pin 13
int led2 = 12;
int led3 = 13;

int value1 = LOW; // previous value of the LED
int value2 = LOW;
int value3 = LOW; // previous value of the LED

long time1 = millis();
long time2 = millis();
long time3 = millis();

long interval1 = 1000; // interval at which to blink (milliseconds)
long interval2 = 500;
long interval3 = 250;

void setup()
pinMode(led1, OUTPUT); // sets the digital pin as output
pinMode(led2, OUTPUT);
pinMode(led3, OUTPUT);

void loop()
unsigned long m = millis();

if (m – time1 > interval1){
time1 = m;

if (value1 == LOW)
value1 = HIGH;
value1 = LOW;

digitalWrite(led1, value1);

if (m – time2 > interval2){
time2 = m;

if (value2 == LOW)
value2 = HIGH;
value2 = LOW;

digitalWrite(led2, value2);
if (m – time3 > interval3){
time3 = m;

if (value3 == LOW)
value3 = HIGH;
value3 = LOW;

digitalWrite(led3, value3);


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Photos and video from our @Scratch, #MakeyMakey, and cardboard session at @TheTownSchool’s #ScratchDay! 

Today was another Scratch Day organized by Michael Tempel of the Logo Foundation. This sold out edition was hosted by The Town School, and there were so many student and adult volunteers to register, direct, guide, and assist participants and session leaders. After two short and informative addresses by Town’s Head of School, Tony Featherston, and Michael Tempel, children and grown-ups moved to classrooms for their chosen workshops.

My session’s description from the program is pasted below:

Cardboard Jam Band with MakeyMakey and Scratch
led by 
Karen Blumberg, The School at Columbia 
Makey Makey is an invention kit that allows you to use every-day objects and materials, such as aluminum foil, play dough and bananas, to interact with your Scratch projects. Let’s construct cardboard shapes, add conductive elements, connect them to MakeyMakey, and program different instruments, sounds, and notes using Scratch to play music and form a band! Suitable for people of all ages; no prior Scratch experience is needed.

Today’s two-hour workshop was similar to one I led last moth at Ramaz and entailed:

1. Learning how to use the MakeyMakey as a controller that can be attached to any conductive input. (The story of how Eric Rosenbaum and Jay Silver co-invented the MakeyMakey is pretty interesting too…)

2. Using a MakeyMakey to play the virtual piano on Eric and Jay’s website: http://makeymakey.com/piano

3. Designing a cardboard shape with aluminum foil bits to act as conductive elements that were then wired to the MakeyMakey.

4. Creating a new blank Scratch project with up to 6 events – each event corresponded to a different key/instrument/note/duration which in turn corresponded to conductive inputs attached to the MakeyMakey.

Here are photos from the day!

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