Posted in MAET: CEP 811

Thrifting

OK Maker World, Here We Go!
I started this week by realizing that my third grade sticker collection was not going to help me work with circuit stickers! I spent some time working through the Circuit Sticker Sketchbook and figuring out what worked and didn’t work when it came to the stickers. Eventually, I was able to make a successful circuit (I got so excited when those lights appeared!) and began working on a few projects.

Used Book Heaven

In lieu of visiting a thrift store this week (though I do love a good resale shop), I chose to frequent my favorite used book store. John E. King books in Detroit is a mecca for book lovers and history buffs alike, and was the perfect place to begin my work. I left the store 4 hours later and almost 20 books richer, and headed home to investigate my haul.

What can I make with this?
So… time to get down to business. After watching the videos online and checking out existing circuit sticker projects, it is time to figure out exactly how I can use this information. I have recently joined the DIY movement in a low-tech way, making homemade bath and body products using essential oils. If I apply the same basic concept to the maker movement (using technology to make something useful to me in some way), I am naturally led to something having to do with books or reading. I started by simply playing around with my kit on plain paper (no need to harm the books, just in case!), and then began noodling around with the idea of interactive annotating. Although I love using multi-colored post-it notes for hardcore annotation, I know that many of my students find the process boring and far-removed from how they learn. Allowing the annotation process to be more hands on and interactive through circuit stickers could be a very interesting way to involve my kinesthetic learners in the process. I picture students marking interesting or important passages with LED lights and then passing around their copies with classmates to compare ideas. Students could mark their ‘light bulb moments’ with actual light bulbs–seems just crazy enough to work! I would also love to explore connecting passages within a text or among several texts by linking them together visually. I think it would be interesting to cut-out passages from several texts and ask students to connect them visually around the classroom using the circuit stickers.
In my research this week for my Evernote notebook, I came across an amazing Tumblr page with project ideas for Circuit Stickers. After seeing the creativity that went in to these projects, I realized that I was limiting myself by focusing only on annotation. I created a great list of potential projects to try with my kit and eventually with my students:
  • Interactive book covers for independent reading
  • Create a personal item for a character from a book (costume, trinket, etc.)
  • Character’s bedroom (what would we find in a character’s bedroom from the assigned reading)
  • Illustrate a scene from your reading
  • Interactive annotations (direct yourself and readers to important passages; swap with a classmate)
  • Quote connections (use the stickers to connect similarly themed passages across multiple texts)
  • Visual writing prompts
  • Multi-modal journaling (turn your writer’s notebook/journal into a multi-modal piece of artistic expression)
  • Up-cycle your favorite children’s book–reflect on where you used the stickers and why
  • Character postcards (create a postcard sent to or from a character in the assigned reading)
As always, I imagine that my students will have far better ideas for using the circuit stickers than I do; however, I feel that by introducing them to the possibility of combining a somewhat science-based product in my English classroom, I can help them see the interdisciplinary possibilities of the two subjects and broaden their idea of what annotation or quote analysis truly means.
So… How do I do it?
In order to use circuit stickers to create light-up projects, you will need sticky copper strips, batteries, LED lights, and a binder clip to hold the battery in place.
Overall Instructions:
1. place the copper strips in a continuous line or shape on your page or material (if you need to turn a corner, fold the strip rather than tearing it off)
2. Bring the two ends of the copper close enough together so that the battery can touch both ends at once
3. Place your LED sticker along the copper–be sure to place the (+) side along the copper touching the (+) side of the battery and the (-) side along the strip that will touch the (-) side of the battery
4. Place the batter along the wire, ensuring that both sides of the battery are touching the copper
5. Clip the battery in place using a binder clip.
6. Enjoy the lights!
There are additional techniques you can use to enhance your project, such as:
1. Cover the lights with tissue paper or fabric to diffuse the lights
2. Create a parallel circuit to use more than one LED light at once
Book Cover Instructions:
1. Select your book and decide where lights would enhance the content of the cover
2. Poke holes in the book where you want the lights to shine through (or, work from a photograph of the cover or photocopied version!)
3. Using a pencil, mark the spot where you have poked holes on the first page of the book
4. Sketch your circuit–decide where your copper strips will go and where the battery will be placed (be sure to account for the (+) and (-) charge
5. Place your copper strips on the lines
6. Place your LED light or lights
7. Place your battery and secure it with a binder clip
8. Enjoy a more interactive book cover!
The above photo gallery highlights a few images from my process. I began by working through the recommended tutorials from the sketchbook. Placing the copper strips was a bit trick at first as I tried to keep it from curling into itself. Also, turning corners is not easy! My first few attempts did not pan out (image 3), but when I tried a parallel circuit it finally worked. I sketched out a plan for my “Gatsby” cover (image 5) and was successful. Next time, I will try to be more precise with my cuts on the cover, and might make a few photo-copies of the cover art to practice on. 
Please enjoy my video tutorial on using Circuit Stickers to create an interactive book cover. If the video does not appear above, please use this link.
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