We’ve partnered with Dr. Kylie Peppler of Indiana University and MIT Press to carry some of the design challenge materials from the Interconnections book collection (part of the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Series on Digital Media and Learning). This page contains information on the books as well as links to individual and group SparkFun wish lists, designed to make it easy for our customers to gather all the electronics they need to complete five projects from Short Circuits and Soft Circuits, two of the four books in the collection.
The design challenges in these two books are related to topics close to our hearts here at SparkFun, and these books provide educators with everything they need to create some amazing electronic projects with their students, including complete lesson plans, hands-on design challenges and alignment to Common Core and Next Generation Science Standards.
Digital media are central in almost every aspect of daily life, most notably in how we communicate, understand political issues, reflect (co-)produce, consume, and share knowledge. Perhaps nowhere is this digital influence contested more than in education, where questions arise about the ability of traditional systems to prepare young people for the social, economic, and political demands of a complex and connected new century. From these concerns springs an innovative approach to supporting the development of systems thinking in young people; one that allows them to see how systems are at play in the digital contexts they regularly engage and one that puts them in the position of designers of those systems.
The collection, Interconnections: Understanding Systems through Digital Design uses a design-based approach to learning and offers up a toolkit for supporting systems thinking in ways that are aligned to current Common Core State and Next Generation Science Standards, but also relevant to youth interests in digital culture. Most prior work on teaching systems thinking concerns the biological, physical, and social sciences. By contrast, this book collection aligns itself with a growing body of work emerging from the fields of game design, digital storytelling, and DIY electronics as contexts for engaging in systems thinking.
Understand systems thinking concepts by designing and building your own circuit. In the process, you’ll learn how system components, behaviors, intended goals, and overall function depend on a system’s interconnections. Kits include supplies to support an introduction to electric circuit activities. (Note: This challenge is duplicated in both Soft and Short Circuits books).
Short Circuits offers students opportunities to undertake physical computing projects, providing tools and methods for creating electronic puppets. Students learn how to incorporate microprocessors into everyday materials and use them to enhance their language and writing skills with shadow puppet shows featuring their own DIY flashlights.
Probe more deeply into a system’s interconnections by building your own e-puppets! In the process, you will discover how to introduce circuit leverage points to preserve limited resources. Kits include electronic supplies needed to support the creation of e-puppets.
Experiment with different circuit structures and battery voltages to discover how circuits can be structured in series and parallel formations. Then apply this understanding toward the design and development of your own DIY flashlight! Kits include electronic supplies needed to craft flashlights and create shadow puppet theaters.
Soft Circuits introduces students to the world of wearable technology. Using Modkit, an accessible DIY electronics toolkit, students learn to create e-textile cuffs, “electrici-tee” shirts, and solar-powered backpacks. Students also learn the importance of one component to the whole – how, for example, changing the structure of LED connections immediately affects the number of LEDs that light up.
Build your own e-cuff bracelet that lights up when you clasp it on! In the process, discover how switches, circuit structure and different battery voltages produce the best effects Kits include electronic supplies needed to create e-puppets.
Extend your circuitry knowledge by designing and programming your own computationally enhanced T-shirt! In the process, you’ll learn how to program a sewable microcontroller to produce breathtaking LED light patterns, and understand how multiple systems can work together toward the creation of a unique fashion design. Kits include all the electronics and tools you will need to design and create electronically-enhanced t-shirts.
Help save our natural resources–while carrying your books in style–by designing a backpack embedded with a flexible solar panel! Discover how powering objects with alternative energy sources—such as water, wind, or solar—provides a view into where energy comes from and how it can best be preserved. Kits include most of the electronics needed to add pizzazz to that boring backpack!
Additionally, we’ve whipped up a shopping list containing all the craft supplies and other materials you’ll need to complete the projects mentioned above (click on the image for a bigger, printable version):