Month: July 2013

Recycling Electronics!

This last week, we worked on all sorts of projects. From the good ol’ squishy circuits and paper circuits, to our new impromptu project of the week; re-using a trashed Guitar Hero controller to use with a Makey Makey. We took a look at the circuit board, and reverse engineered the circuit so that we could wire the switches in the controller to a Makey Makey.

Along the way, I was able to visit some of the other space and see what they were up to. I’ll be posting a large post of tons of photos from the spaces, but for today, there a few teasers from a couple of quick soldeirng lessons and the like.

Next week we’ll be showing off our completed hovercraft, rocking out on our completed Makey Makey Guitar Hero controller and start rolling on the Connected Messages mural! Looking forward to it!

The Horror Life by Dequan

The following is by IDAAY guest blogger Dequan: My name is Dequan, and I wrote a movie called The Horror Life.  The movie is about a group of kids that got trapped in Temple College on the day of graduation.  A teacher was going around killing people with two duel wield scissors buy stabbing them in the neck.  I was the main character in… Read more →

McPherson Connected Messages Mural part 1

So we’ve finally begun work on the Connected Messages Mural project at McPherson!  As we need 64 boxes total for each of the Murals I extended an invitation to participate to the summer program that goes on downstairs at the library. Primarily kids under the age of 13. I asked the coordinator if she could pick about 5 kids to start that she thought would enjoy the project. We decided that 1 o’clock would be a good time to begin with them.

When I arrived at the library in the morning I got the supplies together for the project and sat down at my usual spot in the library to get situated and figure out the best way to present the material to the kids (all of whom haven’t had the chance to meet or work with me before). Once I sat down I found myself slowly being surrounded by interested kids who wanted to participate!

It was decided that “Community” would be the underlying theme of the McPherson Mural.  First up we had to wire up the boxes with copper tape and an LED. In order to preserve the precious copper tape from the crushing hands of youth, I cut the proper sizes from the spools first. That made it much easier for the kids to handle. We didn’t lose a single piece to mangling! The wiring-up of the boxes went surprising fast.

The next step was to discuss the theme and talk about things that each of them thought of when they think of their community.  It was a bit sad to hear their initial responses of “not safe”, “no good”, “staying inside and watching TV”.  I wasn’t entirely shocked by these comments…I get to see what they’re community is like every day. I personally don’t live that far away, either, so at least from an adult’s perspective I know what it’s like.  But I was able to get them to start discussing positive things.  A lot of the positive emotions came from thoughts of family or statements like “I love my mom”. So we went with that. One of them wanted to make a box about recycling (not because the community is all that trash-conscious, but because it’s something he wanted to say he feels is important to making a community healthy).

We were on a roll for the first half of the day with minimal distractions or headaches from a few wandering trouble-makers.  Eventually had to start getting ready to set up in a separate area to work with the other summer program kids at 1. A couple of the kids asked if they could make more boxes later on. “Definitely!”

Once I was set up for the afternoon session the chosen few kids came and found me waiting. I was initially told 5 kids, but ended up with 7. I explained what we’d be doing and they were all very willing to jump right into it. They were all real quiet, not even talking much to each other. I was expecting a lot of talk, but they got right down to it. They were quick to figure out the copper tape (since it’s a bit tricky to peel off). And once we got their boxes wired I started talking about the ideas of community and what they “enjoy about your community” (I didn’t want them to have the same initial reaction the morning group did so I changed my presentation slightly). I got some really good responses and then they got to work making the covers for their boxes. They really liked using up all the space and using all the color they would. It was great to see. And again, a few asked if they could make some more boxes later.

I still have to figure out a few things with attaching the boxes to the board, etc, but overall the kids really seemed to get into this project and I can’t wait to see when we get it fully operational! I’ll be posting more as more gets completed.

Slop-stir Fest!

Well, this didn’t quite work out as planned…but it was still fun! This was a project that the library had looked up and wanted to try out so I was more than happy to lend a hand in the mess-making.

The idea was to make slime from a few household items…primarily glue and detergent.  Of course it seemed that the internet had failed us on this one. The instructional video that had provided the instructions must’ve left something out entirely because although what we ended up making could technically be classified as “slime” it was not the slime advertised!

We had a lot of kids want to try this out.  Even the ones who initially responded with “Ew!” were jumping on asking if they could try it.  Even after we had definitively determined that this project was a fail we still had kids asking to try it. Perhaps they thought that it just needed their particular touch in order to magically make this project work…or maybe the chance to stir muck for extended periods of time was enough of a draw? Whatever the reason we had a ton of kids having a go.

We had initially thought that we’d be adding food coloring to the slime once it had been made…even sparkles, maybe.  When we saw that it wasn’t working out we decided that what’s the harm in adding some extras to their mush? So green food coloring and silver sparkles were distributed evenly amongst the paper bowls of snotty-wonder.  We reminded the kids that although the project didn’t work out it was the attempt that mattered…the experiment. Of course I don’t think they really cared about any of that because to them it was a successful adult-sanctioned slop party. Soooo…mission accomplished?

Chipping away at E-textiles

We’ve been slowly plowing through the e-textiles project each week at McPherson.  This was a sign-up project since we have a very limited quantity of supplies for kids to make little monsters with light-up eyes. We’ve been conducting the program once a week for an hour. And every week so far we’ve had a diminishing number of kids attend.  It’s not for lack of enthusiasm for the project, but they simply forget…and come looking for us, sometimes days later, asking us to remind them again when we get together to do the e-textiles. We just shake our heads silently to ourselves and joke that if things continue this way we’re going to end up with only one kid finishing their monster!

When we do get together and work on the project all the kids participating enjoy it a lot. There is always a lot of laughter and joking around, and of all the project that we’ve done I don’t recall hearing any of them getting discouraged working on the e-textiles even when they’re having a hard time getting everything wired correctly.  It’s kind of like a weird little knitting-circle we have going each week.

We have a few more sessions to go before the project is completed and the kids really can’t wait to see how they each turn out.  You’ll be seeing more from this project later on!