Light Up Notebooks

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On Friday, December 16th, we tried something new: a class on paper circuitry for kids ages 8-12. A total of 24 kids joined us to “hack” their notebooks. I first learned about hacking your notebook from an article titled that way in School Library Journal, at http://www.slj.com/2015/04/technology/hack-your-notebook-circuitry-mixes-with-paper-in-a-creative-project-for-21st-century-learners/

It took me a long time to master how to do it. Fortunately I found some good ideas and inspiration here:

  • http://tinkering.exploratorium.edu/paper-circuits
  • https://learn.sparkfun.com/tutorials/the-great-big-guide-to-paper-circuits
  • http://www.nexmap.org/educator-resources
  • I made a few projects of my own at home in advance of the workshop, so that I could get experience with all kinds of circuits. One of the projects I did was an early literacy book for a friend of mine who is having a baby:

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    Then I created a rainbow template as a sample for the class:

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    Materials Used

    We provided each child with the following materials:

  • A diary
  • Four strips of peelable sticky copper tape
  • Two 3V batteries
  • A small piece of black pressure-sensitive conductive film for insulating a battery or a switch
  • 4 Chibitronics sticker LEDs (of varying colors)
  • 1 regular LED light bulb with two wires (I bent the negative wire to mark it as distinct from the other one)
  • 5 different templates you can use to lay down your circuit
  • Many of these materials came in the Beginner Classroom Kit by Lectrokit. It includes the LED stickers made by Chibitronics. Later, I learned I could get more LED stickers in various colors on Amazon.

    The kit did not come with the pressure sensitive conductive film which is so useful for designing working buttons and insulating batteries from overuse. I ended up finding that out and buying it from Adafruit Accessories on Amazon.

    I bought the notebooks on Amazon too:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01K3WM872/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o04_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B016PYHU5C/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o03_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    My colleague Leela Perea, who helps run the Kids’ Art Salon programs, assisted me with getting the materials together and all set up for the program, and she was available to help kids with troubleshooting during the program.

    Here’s how we set up the room:

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    Kids came in, chose a diary, and sat down for a lesson about electricity. I used several children’s books from the library to design a slideshow that would give them some basics about how electrical circuits work.

    Books Used

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    My slideshow was interrupted briefly by a technical difficulty–the cord for the laptop I was using came out, opening the circuit and preventing electricity from getting through! LOL

    After the science lesson, kids opened their bags and started making their circuits. It was very difficult but more than half of the kids still ended up with something that worked! Here are a few of the completed paper circuits that the kids made:

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    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Gzd73Xz6PXk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T9NK9NMEIwk

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PMVaXn6UEoI

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eow1sS6pZ_4

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=41sWKQ8zE9Q

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=swKEvhMSl8M

    Many of the kids ended up with something really wonderful! A few of the kids weren’t able to finish in the hour. Even with provided templates for them to use, it was a very challenging project. I think in the future I will set aside a longer time for the program. I am also seeking parent feedback from those who participated on Friday.

    I uploaded all our videos, pictures, slides and templates to Google Drive:

    https://drive.google.com/drive/folders/0B2kplpFq1AeuRGowZXBfc0FNbmc

    Thanks for reading, and I hope this might be helpful to another librarian, teacher or parent wishing to do a program like this or anyone wishing to try it at home.

    AnnMarie Kolakowski

    I'm a youth services librarian working in the Children's Room at the Pasadena Central Library. I purchase juvenile nonfiction books for all sites, juvenile Spanish books for all sites, and juvenile DVDs for the Central Library. I do a lot of programs with school-age kids, including Lucha Libros, writing workshops, and STEAM/science programs. I also do 16 weeks of Infant/Toddler Storytimes each year. I love what I do, working with kids of all ages to inspire them to learn and use their curiosity and imaginations. Outside of my work at the library, I am also the author of a book on creative writing activities for kids.

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