BOXES (Building Open Expandable Electronic Systems) is a workshop that introduces educators to a new approach to teaching and learning computational thinking and STEM concepts through craft. Participants collaborate to make “soft”, flexible circuits out of paper, conductive copper tape, and LEDs. Weaving traditional craft techniques with smart materials creates new points of entry that blur the boundaries between craft and computation, low and high technology, and art and computer science.
Currently, there is an urgent need to integrate computational thinking and computer science in the classroom and in after school settings. Recently, the DIY/Maker movement has become a force in creating new learning spaces to foster innovation and creativity, especially in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) fields.
This research contributes to the growing movement of educators and designers who are reimagining what circuits and computers can look like and seeks to function as a medium to transform populations of learners and educators into Makers who can find application of their learning above a textbook and beyond a traditional classroom.
The biggest problem we often encounter in having nonexpert educators teach circuitry and computation is the lack of support for them to teach it. This process guide is designed as supplemental curricular material for building BOXES.
As the maker constructs the box, s/he is introduced to the basic principles behind each step. Each section addresses fundamental concepts of electricity, computation, and interaction design:
1) Lifelines: Power + Ground
2) Introducing Your Brain
3) Turn Me On. Or Off.
4) Make the Connection
5) Why Resist a Change?
6) Let There Be Light!
8) Turn On the Attraction
9) Don’t Bug Out!
Each section is guided by Ground Rules: big ideas or enduring understandings that the maker learns and experiences by completing that section.
Submitted for final thesis review to the MFA Design + Technology program at Parsons The New School for Design.
For a quick visual overview of the making process and workshop!
> If you just want to see the boxes in action, go to 5:00 and 7:19.
> If you want to check out the workshop, go to 6:34.