The U.S. Department of Education began the STEM federal initiative for preschool in 2011. There are no greater natural scientists and engineers than young children; they are inquisitive and naturally learn as they play. Our STEM learning center, the lessons in the Activity Guide, and the materials in this Kit provide children with structure to build upon their natural inclination to explore, to build and to question. To learn more visit our blog post by Hatch expert, Jenne Parks…
…For each kit the activities are scaffolded, presenting information and ideas with increasing complexity to give children an introduction to the basic concepts of technology and promote literacy and other school readiness skills along the way. Each kit also comes with unlimited access to video-based online courses to help your teachers make the most of the kit in the classroom.
The Toronto Reference library debuts a makerspace, via Cory Doctorow at boingboing:
Toronto’s Metro Reference Library has unveiled its new makerspace, which sports 3D printer and scanners, Ardiuno and Raspberry Pi kits, and digital AV production gear. They’ve also lured the Toronto Mini-Maker Faire into relocating to their space. The library’s makerspace will over classes and workshops on programming, hardware hacking, and repairing your electronics. It’s a great all-ages/all-comers complement to Toronto’s existing makerspaces, including Hacklab, Site3, and Makerkids.
The location couldn’t be any better, either. I love Metro Ref. When I was 14, I dropped out of high-school without telling my parents and started taking the subway down to Yonge and Bloor every day, spending all day at the reference library, spelunking in the shelves, subject indices and (especially) the newspaper microfilm, which was amazing. And I’ve always loved the idea of makerspaces in libraries: as I wrote during last year’s Freedom to Read week, “We need to master computers — to master the systems of information, so that we can master information itself. That’s where makers come in.”
Geri Forkner is usually in Tennessee creating felted and woven works of art, but she recently traveled to Thailand to lead an e-textile workshop with fashion design students at Rangsit University. Here are some details of the glowing scarves and more photos can be seen at Weaving School.
I do a wet felting technique that laminates wool fibers to a base cloth. To put it simply, the wool fibers penetrate lightweight silk chiffon with the addition of water, soap, and agitation, and in the process, change the color and texture of the silk. The wool shrinks and the silk doesn’t, so there are lots of possibilities for creating unusual shapes. There are many fibers available to slide conductive yarns through for invisible stitching and ways to create pockets to hide batteries.
I’m just learning how to use micro-controllers in my work, but for folks who have never heard of wearable tech, I’m making it as accessible and easy as possible. I’m telling them what’s available and hope they will take it from there. So, for the Rangsit workshop, we used contact paper as a “battery holder”. The latest stainless steel conductive thread works great, so all the students ended up with a working LED stitched to their scarf. I showed them a demo piece I made with a micro-controller to show what else is available. I had an issue with the Arduino when I set up my project in their art gallery, so I tracked down an electronics shop near the school that had one in stock with an adapter that worked for Thailand electricity. The folks at the shop also knew all about Raspberry Pi — two of the few words I know in Thai now are “red” and “hair”. One of the women at the shop apparently watches Lady Ada’s videos.
I’ve taught this basic felted scarf workshop many times and no two scarves ever come out the same. This time was no exception. The results were spectacular.
Autodesk is giving away 3D design software to American middle and high school students in California or Texas, via recode:
California and Texas secondary schools now have a wealth of resources to inspire students in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math (STEAM) subjects with Autodesk’s Design the Future program, which includes:
Free* Autodesk design software
Free project-based curricula (aligned to Common Core and ISTE standards)
Autodesk’s Design the Future program empowers educators to help students develop a lifelong love for STEAM subjects with resources developed by educators, for educators. Get started today to introduce your students to the world of design and help students prepare for successful careers!
Mylittlegeek.com shares new products every week that introduce children to tech, programming, and engineering. They’ve listed their four favorites, including Primo, a physical programming board for kids, and our very own Ladyada’s E is for Electronics Coloring Book:
Program a Robot Using Wooden Blocks: There are a lot of good remote-controlled toys and programable robots around, but most require a computer or iPad to enter the instructions. What I love about Primo is that it’s a physical programming board into which you place wooden pegs to give the robot it’s instructions. This makes a world of difference for young kids learning the basic concepts of programming. This is for kids aged 4-7 and does not even require literacy.
Electronics-themed Colouring Books: Ladyada’s E is for Electronics is a coloring book adventure with electronic components and their inventors. Makers of all ages can learn, color, and share common parts and historical figures throughout history.
The multimeter – an engineer’s eyes & ears inside a circuit. Join Ladyada & I as we explore vital techniques for multimeter usage as well as specific meter types & their specialized tasks.
I’m proud to announce that this video marks the return of the Collin’s Lab series to the realms of the internet. Great to be back & we’ve got much more technologies, techniques, & tutorials to traverse. Do stay tuned!
James Potter highlights some of the best apps available on the iPad that teach children ages 2-9 how to code, via ipadinsight:
In the past, coding was a pretty niche affair, those of us with our Acorns, Spectrums and Commodore 64s experimenting with lines and lines of code. I remember as an 8 year old, spending ages typing out lines of code on my beige Acorn Electron to draw….a line on the screen. To add insult to injury there was no way to save it unless I wanted to erase my tape of “Ice Ice Baby” and replace it with my code. Needless to say because we were put into the deep end in those days, like millions of others I was put off a bit by coding and just played computer games instead.
Fast forward to the iPad era and coding is coming back in a big way. Some very talented developers with a love for coding have produced some spectacular apps, turning the iPad into a coding studio in your hand. There are some great iPad apps which take the pain out of coding for the layman and can teach your children (and you) some excellent skills.
The Global Space Balloon Challenge is an international education outreach project to encourage people from around the world to build and launch their own high altitude balloons. Over a single weekend, teams from all over the world will launch balloons to the edge of space, recover them, and share the photos and data that they have collected. Our goal is to encourage people of all ages to get their hands dirty building their own space hardware, and to promote the spirit of hardware hacking and international STEM collaboration.
The launches will be between April 18 – 21, 2014, and will take place in countries across the world! So far we already have teams signed up from the US, UK, Spain, Australia, and Japan… and the list keeps growing!
The challenge will include competitions for Best Photograph, Best Design, and Highest Altitude. More details and prize information coming soon!
In this student video from STEM Career Lab, two aerospace engineers describe how they employ concepts they used in high-school at work, via pbs:
Aerospace engineers describe the work they do within the two major aerospace subfields of aeronautical and aerospace engineering. They discuss what they love about their job, how they use STEM concepts they learned in high school on the job, and that you do not have to be “a rocket scientist” to become a rocket propulsion expert.
Here’s what Erin has to say about Jaidyn: “Jaidyn has posted many great intro to robotics videos on YouTube, really worthwhile to watch a few and subscribe. Recently he built a 3D printer and posted fast timelapses of the construction! Pretty soon he’ll be making 3DP robots, it will be a lot of fun to see them!”
My name is Jaidyn Edwards (also known on the internet as “chickenparmi”). I have had an interest in machines my whole life. Being a kid growing up in a world full of technological innovation I took a notebook wherever I went and designed machines in my spare time. As my interest in electronics grew none of my toys were safe, I pulled them apart longing to know what sort of ‘magic’ was going on inside of them.
As the years passed my interest in robotics grew until one summer for Christmas I received a LEGO Mindstorms NXT kit. The NXT opened up a whole new world of creation possibilities and cemented a forever attraction to hobbyist robotics.
In June 2012 I discovered the ‘Maker Movement’ and something called an Arduino. Interested in the applications it was being used for I purchased one and began researching ways to use it. Every creation I’ve made was recorded and uploaded to YouTube as a means for self-documentation.
Discovering the site LetsMakeRobots opened me up to a whole community dedicated to creating robots. Determined to raise awareness for hobbyist robotics I started to create video tutorials on the Arduino and how to create robots.
As of now I am just making the break into turning my passion into a career. I’m now working with several people in the robotics field helping with robotics kits and also working on a Video Course that will be available for sale later this year.
Last week we had the pleasure of hosting Bilal Ghalib, a hacker aficionado and founder of both GEMSI (Global Entrepreneurship and Maker Space Initiative) and pocketfactory.org, at our offices in New York City. We asked Bilal to come spend time with us at littleBits and make the craziest project he could think of.
Not only did Bilal create a mind-blowing project with interesting interfaces that challenge the way we think about littleBits in combination with the physical and digital realms, his process truly showcased the power of littleBits as a prototyping tool.
Bilal was interested in how he could create an interface between the littleBits synth modules and his own music making tools (apps like Alchemy on the iPad) to make a more robust musical experience. His project has a number of physical and digital components that make up a multi-channel music-making machine.
“Piano Roll” Sequencer
The entire project is controlled by a “piano roll” sequencer that operates under similar principles to a player piano and is triggered by light. Bilal created a scrolling musical score by filling in dark spaces on an Excel spreadsheet and running it in between a series of 4 bright LEDs and 4 light triggers. When a dark square moves between a bright LED and a light trigger, a corresponding oscillator plays a note. This “piano roll” sequencer has four output channels and plays three notes. These sounds can be modified by adjusting the oscillators, but also by adding and mixing in other synth modules. The fourth channel, rather than producing a note, is connected to a long LED which lights up to the pattern of black squares on the scroll. The squares on this fourth channel are spaced at regular intervals and produce a pulse of light.
The light pulse put out by the long LED is read by a light trigger in a subsequent circuit that activates a drum beat in time to the “piano roll” sequencer. A normal pulse module could have been used to control the drum beat (the 2nd circuit), but with the light pulse, the drum beat corresponds with the speed of the DC motor that spins the scroll of notes, keeping the two circuits in sync with one another. The transfer of electrical signals between two isolated circuits via light is called opto-coupling. Not only is this a great way to sync up the two circuits, and it also helps the project to run more smoothly as each circuit has a separate power source. The larger and more complex a circuit gets, the more power it needs. This project also uses power adapters vs. batteries.
Conductive Servo Arms
The drum beat circuit is all based off a single pulse, but it produces three different rhythms simultaneously. This is done with a branch, a series of logic modules, and three servos. The servos are positioned on top of an iPad that has the Alchemy app open. Alchemy is a synthesizer app with a variety of sound sets and modification features (drum sounds were selected for this demo). The servo arms are dressed in conductive foam and wired to a copper pipe. When they are activated by the pulse signal, the conductive foam arms move up and down and touch certain spots on the iPad, creating different sounds of a drum rhythm. This conductive setup takes the place of a finger tap.
Logic-Based Drum Beat
This drum circuit, though controlled by one pulse, creates three different rhythms. The pulse goes into a branch where the three servos are connected. Before each servo are a series of logic modules (latches and inverters) that switch up the beats.
What’s great about this project is that you can modify the sounds and the rhythms by making physical changes (no programming is needed whatsoever). Switch up the rhythms by filling in squares on an Excel sheet, speed up the tempo by adjusting the speed of the dc motor scroll, add and subtract logic modules to mix up the drum beat, and change the quality of sound by experimenting with various synth modules.
Fascinating — completely addictive watching these walking along. The video below reminds me of a toddler getting to grips with the opportunities allowed by not running into things.
Here is what Erin has to say about this project: “If you’re interested in humanoids, this seems like a good project to start out with. It’s nice that it uses relatively inexpensive servos. Neat the way it walks with statically balanced frames.”
ROFI is the fifth prototype from Project Biped. It is a self-contained, bipedal robot that uses accelerometer feedback to balance. It has 12 DOF (degrees of freedom) and can walk around while avoiding obstacles using an ultrasonic range sensor. A small Android tablet in ROFI’s head provides the brains and an Arduino Mega provides the hardware interface. All of the designs, instructions, source code, and parts lists are provided for free. ROFI was designed to be easily made by anyone with a low cost 3D printer and an interest in learning about robotics. Check out the FAQ if you have any questions.
Considering the behavior of their whacked-out mayor, it is even more pleasant to report on something positive in Toronto: the new Digital Innovation Hub at the Toronto Public Library. This Saturday, the Innovation Center will offer an Intro to 3D Design course through their new hub which is set to open February 4th. The Digital Innovation Hub is home to 3D printers, 3D scanners, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi – among other technology – and is one of three set to open in early 2014 in the Toronto area.
…The Toronto Star reported that “the hubs are part of the Toronto Public Library’s strategic plan, as the traditional houses for books and literature try to reposition themselves in an increasingly digital environment.” Reference library manager Paul Trumphour views libraries as “helping people understand their world” – which increasing includes the digital world. The technology in the library’s hub cost around $44,000 Canadian dollars and was partially paid for through public fund raising.
Library patrons will be able to use the 3D printers for a small fee: around 5 cents a minute for the first two hours – plus a $1 base fee. So an iPhone case which prints in around 90 minutes would cost around $5.50. In addition to 3D printers, the Innovation Hub will offer visitors access to video cameras, green screens, audio equipment and tablets – as well as other devices. The technology will be supported through multiple courses with monthly meetings on topics like robotics and wearable tech. The library is also partnering with Toronto’s maker community to reach as many interested people as possible.
Every Thursday is #3dthursday here at Adafruit! The DIY 3D printing community has passion and dedication for making solid objects from digital models. Recently, we have noticed electronics projects integrated with 3D printed enclosures, brackets, and sculptures, so each Thursday we celebrate and highlight these bold pioneers!
Have you considered building a 3D project around an Arduino or other microcontroller? How about printing a bracket to mount your Raspberry Pi to the back of your HD monitor? And don’t forget the countless LED projects that are possible when you are modeling your projects in 3D!
The Adafruit Learning System has dozens of great tools to get you well on your way to creating incredible works of engineering, interactive art, and design with your 3D printer! If you’ve made a cool project that combines 3D printing and electronics, be sure to let us know, and we’ll feature it here!
SVC2UK, Silicon Valley Comes to the UK, has released a report about the impact of technology on the education industry:
Technology has started radically changing the lives of those in and dedicated to education, but the transformation has only just begun. This white paper explores, and explains what the future is likely to look like for teachers and students, and examine what the implications might be for institutions currently involved in the industry. The good news is that there will be massive improvement in the lives os students, teachers and parents. The bad news is that people in the institutions that have shaped this industry historically will be left behind if they do not help their organizations adapt; as there are new entrants waiting in the wings with products that are fundamentally better at serving the interests of the customers. A revolution awaits.