Widgets, Gadgets, and Gizmos...otherwise known as Adventures in Pico Boarding!

Hi all,

We had a great Teen Tech Week session here in Memphis today! [I was worried because Tuesday no one showed up for an Open Lab Session :( ] Today we had eight really engaged, bright teens and tweens. I think our youngest was nine. I began the session by walking everyone through the steps to build a simple circuit (like we all did in Minneapolis training). Then, we all added switches to our circuits. After much fumbling, everyone was on board. Then we moved to Scratch and wrote simple programs exploring the pico boards. Everyone loved the toilet paper roll controllers, but I think the most popular sensing block was 'loud'. I thought that was ironic especially in a library setting! Soon, everyone was dreaming up controllers left and right. Then I took apart an old Nintendo Entertainment System Power Pad. Mostly cause I was 'geeked out' about it. We hooked it up to the sensors too, and soon everyone was talking about making their own DDR pads at home. All in all, I think the session was energizing for them and me! [Sometimes it's difficult to keep having programs when zero attendance is a common occurence.]

We had NO internet access, although everyone saved their projects to the laptops, no one could post them online.

I might post them later in the next couple of days under my Scratch account just so you guys can see what projects were created and saved. Pictures are to follow as well.

Things that I would change for next year:

I would have more supplies on hand. This year are budget was about 25$, which I blew [and then some] on LED's, Lithium batteries, and wire. Also, more examples of different types of controllers would be great. And, of course, reliable Wi-Fi would be a blessing for any session!

Well, that's all for now.

Thanks again!

From Memphis,


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Comment by pessonh@memphislibrary.org on March 13, 2010 at 4:04pm
OMG! I have been totally stoked about circuit bending since I began researching for this last Media Mashup session. I have seen some great stuff online. At first I didn't really realize what it was! But after seeing all the different toys and things folks have used to create music...it was inspiring. In fact, I was talking to Mary about it right after our program.

I'm totally interested in the article, but embarrassed to admit that I don't know the library's fax number. Let me speak with Mary when I return to work Monday and I'll email you.

As far as the local network goes...Egads! I got a Wireless hub [Brainfart on what they are technically called!] donated last summer. I sent in a request to have it configured, and nothing. It's just sitting in the cart with the computers. Guess I'll have to ask again and then resort to nagging.
Comment by keithbraafladt on March 12, 2010 at 10:35am
please send it to me too!
Comment by Jen on March 12, 2010 at 9:41am
on the circuit bending -we have a staff member at HCL who did a homegrown version of it, with training from SMM folks. And she has an article about it in this month's YALS magazine. Her name is Camden Tadhg, but i'm not sure if the article is available electronically yet. Email me your fax and I will fax it to you if you'd like.
Comment by keithbraafladt on March 12, 2010 at 8:57am
Yes I'm really interested in the projects and photos too - your description is just great.

Just a random left-field thought- have you guys done circuit bending? Here's a link to some local folks who have become perfomers of this sort of diy music and sound creation...http://beatrixjar.blogspot.com/2008/10/circuit-bending-workshop-faq... They came to our department at the Science Museum and did a workshop (- then did their final workshop in January) but they are wonderful to talk to and I think they've even performed in libraries - anyhow the workshops are things that use toys and very very simple circuits to make amazing music

It makes me wonder with all your technical skills you might be able to set up a local network/wifi - at least to save the projects on a little server or backup drive of some sort
Comment by Jen on March 11, 2010 at 9:07pm
that sounds great Hillary, I can't wait to see the pictures and projects. When we meet in June I hope we can brainstorm about attendance; that's sometimes been an issue up here as well. I'm not sure if there's a solution or not.

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