Teens Creating Playful Tech at #STEAMFWD

A little over a week ago, in partnership with izone , Urban Arts Partnership, and NY Tech Meet Up  we were able to corral around 70 high-schoolers all day on a Saturday TO LEARN about science for an event called #STEAMFWD. Full disclosure, there was free pizza offered so that always sweetens the deal;  but we will still take a little credit.

The #STEAMFWD event was created to push forward the integration of the arts with science, technology, engineering, and math.  Starting at 9:30 AM the morning session was comprised of 2 one-hour workshops, one about sound and the other about wearables. After a delicious sandwich lunch break the students broke out into groups of 3-5 where they were presented with a design challenge and 2 hours to complete their project.  We finished off the day with FREE PIZZA and amazingly energetic and impressive presentations from each group as they shared what they created.

So where does blink blink come in? We were so excited to be asked not only to be involved with #STEAMFWD but to actually teach at the event! Our very own CEO and resident paper circuit expert, Nicole Messier, taught the wearable work shop. Nicole was joined by COO, Alex Tosti, and technology intern, Lucy Matchett, to help introduce students to the wonderful world of creative circuits and the basics of wearable technology.  Blink blink was so thankful to also be accompanied by the talented Stoked on Steam group to help teach and facilitate the workshop.

During the wearable workshop students were given materials (copper tape, LEDs, coin cell batteries, and a myriad of arts & crafts supplies) to create a series of paper circuits. Starting simple with 1 LED and a worksheet to follow along with, then taking the next step to build a parallel circuit with multiple LEDs, and finally building up to all sorts of creative circuits involving 3D sculptures, masks, and origami.

After lunch the students were given two hours to work with their team to generate a concept, design a project for the concept, and then execute the design. Each team was encouraged to combine what they had learned from both the sound  and wearable workshop from the morning; and I must say their end results were more than impressive.  It was very rewarding to watch these students stand up in front of a room of their peers to excitedly and confidently show off their STEAM skills.

One of the greatest benefits of STEAM incorporation into education is the freedom it gives to students to express their creativity, engage in hands on exploration, while still grappling with STEM concepts; and this event was a great example of that. To list a few of the final projects:  We had one group use blink blink creative circuit material in combination with a Makey Makey to create piano gloves.  The felt gloves used conductive thread and alligator clips attached to a Makey Makey to construct gloves that played a different piano note every time the glove would come in contact with metal (and thus completing the circuit). The “Wearable Runway” team used felt, conductive thread, LEDs and a coin cell battery to construct a wearable masterpiece in the form of a very flashy skirt. While, the “Pentagirls” team also used blink blink materials and a makey makey to build the SOUNDal: a sandal that plays different sounds depending on certain pressure points built into the shoe, so you can make music as you walk. I know what you are thinking, “How do they think of these things?!”

With STEAM, that’s how.

Check out these images below of work in progress as well as the some of the presentations, and if you want to see more head on over to the #STEAMFWD Tumblr  to view a stream of photos taken by the students at the event.