Friday, December 27, 2013

Holiday Circuits

Holiday Circuits

Materials each child received: a battery, led light, copper tape, Popsicle stick

In the FabLab we had been exploring the use of craft sticks, a material that both the children and the teachers feel comfortable with as the base for many arts and crafts activities, as a base for circuits. Using our Epilog Laser cutter we designed a simple circuit template, that could be created by the children, and was open enough so that they could easily incorporate basic electronics into their crafts.

For the annual holiday show each teacher decided on a prop for the children in the class to wear. In an effort to provide a festive look, the children made a circuit with a specific LED light to represent their class. The light was placed behind the prop allowing only the switch to show. For this activity the classroom lead teacher and assistant joined the Play Make Share staff. Each teacher sat with a small group of 4-5 children.

The children were previously introduced to a squishy circuit activity in August and were able to remember the names to the materials with an exception to the copper tape. Details as in the LED lights having a long leg/ short leg, battery having a positive side/ negative side were recalled by the children in every group. After discussing the materials and their purpose in a large group, the children’s attention was drawn to the teacher at their table.

The children were encouraged to place the light and battery on the Popsicle stick. Once all of the children at the table had finished, the teacher would show the position of each item modeling and giving the children sufficient time to rearrange their light or battery. One of the challenges the children face is connecting the battery to the LED light on the popsicle stick without it constantly falling off. To ease this challenge and lower the barrier a little, we designed a popsicle stick template that allowed the battery and LED light to be press-fit, thus ensuring they would stay in place. The next step would be to connect the LED to the battery using copper tape. Separating the back of the copper tape and placing it correctly proved to be challenging for the children. It took quite a bit of patience on their part but they all managed to find assistance among each other. Once more the teachers at the table modeled where to place the copper tape. Finally the last step consisted of enjoying the lights turn on and off.  The holiday circuits were placed behind the props in their own classroom.


Thursday, December 5, 2013

Wind Tube

The wind tubes are the most fascinating items in the classroom for the children. They have had endless opportunities to explore with them, yet find themselves driven to them every time they enter the classroom. Taking their eagerness into consideration this activity was right up their alley.

On the first day two pieces of tape were placed within a designated area of the clear plastic which forms the tube. The challenge was for their creations to stay floating within the space that was marked. The children had miscellaneous craft items available, hot glue gun and cups. They began by randomly adding craft items to their cups with tape or hot glue. As each child finished decorating their cup they would approach a wind tube to observe their creation in the tube.  If the decorated cup would not float or fly too quickly through the tube they would return to the table and remove or add crafts. Through encouragement, praise and recognition of their effort, the children continued redesigning their cups until it floated within the determined goal.

The second day was a continuation to the previous activity with a twist. Before designing their floating structure the students decided where to place the tapes on the clear plastic tube. There were three wind tubes and each had to have the masking tape within the same distance from the base of the wind tube. The students were scaffold to find the correct tool within the classroom that would assist them in determining the measurements. Some suggestions were to use a yard stick, ruler or measuring tape. Each student was given the opportunity to measure or assist in placing the masking tape. Once all three wind tubes were marked, the children were ready to create, observe, explore and redesign if needed.