Week Five: Blinky Monsters with Sewable Circuits

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September 1, 2015 by WittyLibrarian

Sewable Circuits Blinky Monsters

Program Title: Blinky Monsters

Target Age Range: Grades 4-6

Program Length: 120 minutes

Brief Description: Learn how circuits work while creating a fun and whimsical stuffed animal.

Supplies:

Wearable/Sewable SMD LEDs

Conductive Thread

Coin Cell Battery Holder

Coin Cell 3V Batteries

Felt/Fleece

Stuffing

Sewing Needles

Snaps

Hot glue gun and gluesticks

Patterns

Threading wax

Tape

Paper

Pencils

Scissors

Plastic baggies

Cost: $$50- 100

Advanced Preparation: 

Print out templates.

Create sample Blink Monster.

Program Outline:

  1. Explanation of how the sewable circuit will be laid out and work.
  2. Introduction:
    • Explanation of how circuits work. This site has a simple explanation; this site has explanations regarding different types of circuits; and this site is an in-depth explanation of circuits and electricity.
  3. Use paper, pencils, and printed templates to either create own monster, or use an existing design.
  4. Cut designs out in felt; be sure to cut design out twice for both a front and back of the stuffed animal.
  5. Lay out circuit design.
  6. Sew circuits.
  7. Test circuits.
  8. Sew or hot glue stuffed animals partially closed, stuff with stuffing, and sew/glue completely shut.

Procedure:

  • Sewable CircuitsDrawing of Blinky Monster Circuit
    • Link above outlines entire activity. In addition to the advice and procedure listed in the link, we found that threading wax helped keep the conductive thread from tangling. It was also helpful to have a completed Blinky Monster on hand to use as a reference when helping children plan their circuits, as well as drawing the circuit layout on our whiteboard as a visual reference.
  • Closing and stuffing the Blinky Monster
    • Due to time constraints, we helped the children finish their Blinky Monsters by hot gluing, rather than sewing, the monsters shut. We had baggies on hand if the children either wished to sew the stuffed animal together, or didn’t finish sewing their circuits, and needed to take materials home.

Resources Used:

How to Sew StitchLits by katehartman on Instructables.com

Sewn Circuits by the Exploratorium.edu

Plush Monsters: creatures with character, an activity by Emily Lovell, Jie Qi, and Natalie Freed

How Do Electric Circuits Work by Discoverykids.com

Electrical Circuits by BBC Bitesize

Electricity by Explainthatstuff.com

How Electrical Circuits Work by Bulbs.com

What we would do differently:

MonsterOneAlthough we allowed for two hours to do this program, it could easily be a three hour program. Many of our 4-6th graders either did not know how to sew, or had very little experience sewing, therefore things took much longer than expected. For future programs, we plan on offering a sewing class beforehand, for those who would like to learn.  Also, despite having a circuit drawn on the board for an example, it would be helpful to give each student a circuit handout as reference.

Adaption for older/younger audience:

For a younger audience, or as an alternate way to present this program to 4-6th graders, offer it as a family program. In this way, parents will be on hand to assist their child in the basics of sewing. We also found many parents fascinated by the idea of sewable circuits.

The program, as is, would work well for a Teen program, without any adaptation.MonsterTwo

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