Thrifting + Repurposing = Making

26 May

In this post, I am going to show you how to use Squishy Circuits to help teach color names in Spanish. The challenge this week was to not only use the prefabricated kit, but to also include other items from a thrift experience that communicates well with the kit. I will admit, for me, this was the most challenging, outside-the-box thinking that I have had to do yet. First of all, how do you integrate circuits with teaching Spanish! As Punya Mishra and Matt Koehler stated, ” 1. Teaching with technology is a WICKED problem, 2. Wicked problems require CREATIVE solutions, and 3. Teachers are designers of the Total PACKage.” (Mishra, Koehler, 2008) I knew this “making” project would be messy (not only because I needed to make my own play-doh) trying to integrate something as foreign as Spanish with technology, but it gave me courage that the solution to my “wicked” problem was simply a bit of creativity, along with my knowledge of TPACK from CEP 810. Through a series of photos and a video, I will show my creativity for how to integrate technology with Spanish, and what became my solution to the very wicked problem: teaching with technology.

Stated earlier, the foundation for my project was the Squishy Circuits maker kit. This kit comes with a variety of components ranging from yellow, green, white, red and blue LED light bulbs, to a motor and two different frequency sounding buzzers. Be forewarned that not only are batteries not included, but the play-doh isn’t either!

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Fortunately, the kit comes with directions for making the insulating (white) and conducting (whichever color you choose) play-doh and if you’re really in a bind, Squishy circuits offers great help videos on its website. Now, I will show you how I used this kit and repurposed “thrift” items to successfully integrate Spanish with maker technology.

First, I needed to play with the maker kit. Figuring out different combinations for how to make lights turn on or other components function was easy through the helpful videos found at the Squishy Circuits website. As you can see below, there is an example for a light turned on and a light turned off simply from the power supply being engaged and disengaged.

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Second, was to find basement items I could use to repurpose for use with my maker kit. True, I did not find the spoon in the basement, but it definitely came in handy for the new purpose I had for it. The Christmas light strand, the wire cutting tool, the electrical tape, and decorated cardboard box all came from the basement and were certainly helpful and willing to enhance my Squishy Circuit.

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Third, creativity became a necessity for constructing the kit to work with the repurposed items. From the above items I used the cutting tool to trim the Christmas light wire down to a size that could connect the LED bulb to the circuitry inside. The electrical tape held the LED leads to the Christmas light wire, which was arranged “hotwire” to “hotwire” for completing that particular part of the circuit within the decorated cardboard box. A peek inside the box looks a little like this:

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Here is a clearer view for how the circuitry works:

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Keep in mind that electric current can only flow through the blue play-doh. Having each switch be the blue color gives the illusion that all four connections would result in the LED turning on, but only one can have that honor. Finally, to find out which connections shines bright, watch the video below.

Corresponding Lesson Plan

This project helped bring out my inner Kindergartener by allowing me to play with what I was learning. Through this play, I learned how to document my work using Evernote, and create multiple sources to help others recreate what I have made. Pictures and video helped me build foundational use of the Squishy Circuit, thus opening the door for creativity to seep in and integrate my teaching content into a pre-existing technology. Likewise, the pictures and video I have included here are purposed for repurposing and enhancing others’ teaching content, bringing to light the value creativity placed in the building of this project. Happy making!

 

 

Reference:

Mishra, P. & Koehler, M.J.(2008). Teaching Creatively: Teachers as Designers of Technology, Content and Pedagogy. Vimeo. Retrieved May 25, 2014, from http://vimeo.com/39539571

 

 

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