Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Can MAKING a Collaborative Garden teach us MAKING and CODING skills? Let's find out!

Many of you know that I love finding new ways to introduce kids to coding.  Many of you know that I love getting girls involved with technology.  Well ever since last fall, I have been dreaming of a project that will do both get girls involved in Making and in Coding.  I'm planning on using it for our next Girls Make IT  Day.

Here is Part 1 of CREATE a COLLABORATIVE GARDEN with CODE  project.  When I first started to think about this project,  I was thinking we might create a 3D map or a Village where we all make structures of buildings that have LED's inside the buildings.  This was inspired by +Leah Joly  Christmas village project and the 3DVermont project.

From MIT News
Then +Mara Siegel posted this  a link to  a Robot Garden from  MIT  aimed at making CODING more accessible.  That's exactly what I was thinking, but with  less complexity. After all they are MIT!  Instead of 100 robots and distributed algorithms,  my idea was to start with a half dozen flowers designed to include a programmable LED and then have the garden slowly grow with each iteration of the workshop.

So I combined all these ideas and in the next few days I'm going to blog about my journey into making my 'simpler'  version of creating an accessible Collaborative Coding A Garden Project.

Here is Part 1 of a series of blog post I will use to document my journey during this new Maker project.

I loved the garden idea. If everyone involved created something for the garden that they could code, what a fun dynamic intersection of art and technology we would have.  I immediately started looking around for some fun ways to MAKE flowers that could have a programmable LED.
I was inspired by this video of creating Flowers from stockings and could easily see a way to work this into our idea for a Collaborative Garden.

I looked into two fabric stores, neither of which had fabric that was stretchable like Stockings, so Off to Walmart.  Finding colored stockings turned out to be harder than I thought,  but I eventually found some colorful somewhat sheer tights in the children's department.

I picked up different gauge craft wire and ended up using the 20 gauge wire.

With a little practice wrapping wire around an toilet paper roll, stretching fabric and securing the fabric by wrapping thread and tying knots, I soon had 10 petals ready to go.   

The next step was to assembling the petals around the flame of an LED powered tea candle that I found at Walmart (6 for $2.50)

So far so good... Now for the geeky part.  If you've ever done a toy hacking project, you know how much fun it can be to tear things apart.  When I took apart the tea candle votive, I discovered a 2032 battery,  and LED and a switch.   This was so perfect.  Not only did I have all the supplies I needed at less than 40 cents per flower,  I had a great opportunity to include 'hacking'  in my project and to also review the circuits and switch concepts we introduced in our last Girls Make IT DAy.

At this point the girls could change the LED to a different color and have a stand alone light.  
Or they could change the LED to one with longer leads to open up a whole array of options for using their new flowers in a project.  

Here a short video preview of what the flower hack looks like (Sorry about the 3D printer noise in the background, I was printing parts for version 2 of the flower)

Ah the possibilities... Come back tomorrow and see what I come up with. 

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