Wearables Workshop Development and Conduction: my seminar at the LMU

During the last week of February I was teaching a seminar on wearable technology and education for the third time in a row. This course was a collaboration with Dr. Karin Guminski, Michael Dietrich from SPIELkultur and Cornelia Schmid-Heizer from Nymphenburger Schulen, and Simone Damm was assisting us this year.
All pictures on this page are courtesy of the seminar participants or Anna Blumenkranz
We had an intense week, during which the students had to come up with a workshop idea and produce it: acquire all necessary materials and tools, make an instruction, and after assessing the workload for their target group pre-produce different parts and steps. The next week after the course we went into a school and conducted these workshops with the 5th and 7th grade kids during two afternoons.

One of the challenges this year was having the double amount of students on the course: 24 instead of 12... And another trouble was that I had a flu and completely lost my voice on the second day. Which is not the most convenient thing for a teacher. On the last day of the course, my co-teachers had to act as my voice and read or say out loud what I was meaning to tell everyone in the classroom. Human amplifiers :)

On the technical side, this year I've introduces the students to ATTiny85, as I wanted them work with sound. ATTinys are little micro-controllers, which only cost 1,50€ in the eHaJo-shop! A great price for a computer. Similar to an arduino, you can address different pins through code, and attach sensors and actuators to them. Here is what we were doing during the first one and a half days:

STEP1: I've used Arduino Uno to programme the ATTinys (thanks to Hannah Perner-Wilson for a fantastic tutorial). I've used the following code for the Super Mario tune, and this one for the Star Wars tune, and adjusted both slightly.

STEP2: I've made the following swatch to demonstrate the circuit. I intentionally left it as basic as possible, as I didn't want to influence the students' future designs in any way. The circuit uses a 3V battery as a power source, the ATTiny chip soldered onto a piece of stripboard to control everything, a piezo for the buzzing audio output and a standard LED for the light, and two popper switches to open the circuit.

I was very pleased with some of the students' ideas and designs, which extended my circuit and incorporated it in various designs, making them attractive for 10-12-year-olds! There were sock puppets, Minion smartphone pockets with stretch sensors, school book covers with owls, bags with printed tape recorders to switch on and Super Mario mushrooms


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