This week’s big assignmet for my CEP 811 course, combine a maker kit with a repurposed item and create a prototype that could be use in my classroom. It was definitely a challenge!
I started out by heading to Metro Retro, a thrift shop in Lansing, to browse for something that could be repurposed. It is a great little store and I managed to find something: an old chess and checkers set.
I really enjoyed the tessellations on this box. I was already thinking that I would try to make something for my geometry class, and this just clinched it for me.
So I was set now with a chess/checkers set, and my circuit stickers kit. I just needed to figure out how I could put them together for my class. After some internet browsing, I settled on trying to make circuits that would go along with the angles formed by a pair of parallel lines and a transversal.
How to make circuit stickers light up the angles in my parallel lines with a transversal:
- Chibitronics Circuit stickers STEAM Starter Kit
- Surface onto which to put your circuits (chess board)
- Paper (for planning)
- Material for pressure buttons (paper or cardboard)
- Ruler (if you are hand-drawing the parallel lines/transversal), computer/printer otherwise
- Extra Chibitronics LED stickers, white and colored
- Extra Copper circuit tape
If you are pro with circuit stickers, you could make my prototype using only the starter kit. I am not pro, and I ended up diving into the extra tape and LEDs I had ordered with my starter pack.
Step 1: Plan ahead. Sketch out your circuits!
Ok, so there are 6 different types of angle pairs when talking about this situation. I needed to figure out how I was going to make them light up. So I started sketching out how I thought things should go. I snagged a picture of the geometric phenomenon and got started.I realized pretty quickly that what I wanted was not going to fit onto a single representation of the lines. There just was not going to be enough space for all the circuits. You have to be sure that the stickers don’t overlap, or cause short circuits. I ended up breaking it into two representations of the line set and started again.
And… maybe I restarted a couple times.
Turns out, planning the set-up of all the circuits was the hardest part.
- If you want more than one light to shine at a time, you have to use a parallel circuit.
- Use the outline sticker around the LED lights to trace their actual size onto your plan
- Remember to leave enough space, if your circuit lines touch you may end up with a short circuit.
Step 2: Trace or attach your plan to the surface where your circuit is going to go.
I put my circuit on the inside of the chess/checkers board. It gives me a firm reliable surface and leaves the beautiful tessellated side untouched. I was thinking that I could use the other half of the board to hide my circuits, if I wanted to use them in a “guess the angle” kind of way.
Step 3: Start placing your stickers.I started with the circuit paths on the inside of the whole schema, and then worked my way out. You should also test each circuit as you complete it.
Nothing would have crushed my spirit more than to realize that one of my circuits didn’t work after spending hours carefully laying down all the stickers. So I systematically tested each and every one as I completed it.
The name of each angle pair is where my pressure buttons were going to go, so there is a gap in the circuit there. To test my circuit I had to place a piece of the copper circuit tape in the gap to close the connection.Step 4: Making your pressure buttons
Once my circuits were all laid out and working, I needed to attach my pressure buttons. I had snagged some of the inner lining of the game box to make my “buttons”. (The Jie Qi Sketchbook has a great little tutorial on pressure buttons for a general overview of how they work.)
I cut the buttons out and laid them over my circuits until I could estimate where to place my copper circuit tape. I placed a strip of the copper tape onto the back of the button, and then maneuvered it into the proper place on my circuit map. I knew I was in the right spot when the LEDs lit up from the complete circuit. I then taped my button in place on one side. You do not want the button taped down too firmly, or the circuit will always be complete and will drain your batteries. You only want your LEDs lit up when you push (put pressure) on the button.
Step 5: The cover-up.
Its difficult to see the parallel lines and where the angles are once I had laid out all the circuit stickers. So I dropped another (clean) copy of the parallel lines with transversal over the first. I then did my best to cut out the sections over my buttons. There are some things I would do in the future to make my prototype look prettier, but it came out pretty much the way I was hoping.
Video of the finished prototype below:
As mentioned in the video, there are a couple of different ways I could use this prototype. I could have students use it to investigate the vocabulary terms for each angle pair. I could use it to have students do a “guess the angle” sort of game. I could use it to foster a class discussion. “If this these two are corresponding angles, what other corresponding angles might there be?” I could go back to the chess set and have students use the pawns to match the angle type, then check accuracy by pressing the button. It’s a fairly flexible prototype at the moment, and I have not decided how I might specifically plan to use it yet. I would love to hear suggestions!