Early on a Saturday morning, 11 Fashioning Circuits volunteers, ranging from 11 to 50-something years old, trekked down to Southern Methodist University for the Fall installment of the Design Your World conference, for 4th and 5th grade girls. Our volunteers included current and former students, parents, daughters, and friends from neighboring universities.
The event was organized by the Dallas Society of Women Engineers (SWE) in partnership with the SMU chapter of SWE . They invited Fashioning Circuits to lead an all day “Electronic Fashion Camp” workshop for twenty girls. In the morning, the workshop included an opening discussion about Fashion as Communication, an introduction to the concept of physical computing, and a coding workshop and time for geeking out and messing around with the Lilypad Arduino. The afternoon was focused on a take home project – a twinkling headband!
It was a really fun day. The girls who attended that day learned a lot but we also learned a few things. Lessons that we learned include that you can never have too many pairs of scissors and that for future workshops we should not be tempted by the inexpensive sewing needle multipacks – many of the needles had eyes that were so tiny they were very difficult to work with! This was our first workshop for a group this young that included a take home project. Our strategy of gluing down the LilyTwinkle, LEDs, and battery holder in advance worked quite nicely.
According to the Dallas SWE’s writeup of the event, 82% of the kids responded that they would attend a Design Your World event again, and 88% responded that they would recommend the event to others. We hope that our numbers for Fashioning Circuits were even higher.
The day made an impact on our volunteers as well. EMAC senior, Lance King, writes, “When I first got involved, I had no idea Fashioning Circuits would be such an impactful experience. The young girl I was mentoring through this project was so patient and inquisitive! Once we finished working on her head band, I looked her in the eyes and said, ‘The batteries are in now…Do YOU want to turn it on?!’ She nodded her head and as she flipped the switch…her eyes lit up and sparkled brighter than any LED could hope to! It felt SO amazing to be a part of a child’s educational experience in that way. I don’t think she’ll forget it and I know I won’t.”
If you would like to make your own twinkling headband, you may download the tutorial from here: http://kimknight.com/fashioningcircuits/twinkling-headband-tutorial.pdf