At MIT, in museums, schools and after school programs and later in my consulting work, I developed and ran programs in which Arduino-like programmable bricks were used to make robots, interactive sculpture and other inventions. One such program was the Electronic Jewelry Workshop, in which participants learn about aesthetic, engineering and scientific aspects of design through creating their own jewelry.
In the workshop children and adolescents use a combination of basic electronics materials (such as LEDs, batteries, resistors, and switches) and basic craft materials (such as beads, feathers, and ribbon) to create jewelry with lights that glow, flash, and change color. The workshop has run in after-school, museum and summer camp programs with children ages 5 to 17 for anywhere from 20 minutes to several hours a week over six weeks.
Through design activities in which children build meaningful objects with technology, they learn about:
- the nature of materials: e.g., how light reflects against and refracts through different objects;
- basic electronics: e.g., practical, hands-on experience with serial and parallel circuits, short-circuiting, and concepts behind Ohm’s law;
- basic technology: e.g., what an LED and resistor is and how a battery works;
- science: reflection and refraction, parallel and series circuits, current and power;
- personal identity: e.g., how jewelry reveals the wearer.
Publication: Sylvan E. (2005). Integrating Aesthetic, Engineering, and Scientific Understanding in a Hands-on Design Activity. Interaction Design for Children, Boulder, CO.