Making Up My Mind at #cmk16 and Carla Rinaldi Illuminates Us

Wednesday, July 12, 2016

Yesterday was the first day of #cmk16 proper. It was not as productive as I hoped, but I accept it.  I am ready to proceed.  My mind is ready. My plan for documentation is ready. I’m beginning now.

like a boss


Click here for an Adafruit tutorial for what I’m making.

And here is the preview I put together Tuesday:

The process of choosing a project to start with took me on a few goose chases related to my own poor planning. But I’m prepared for this project so I’m good to go.

Reflection time was helpful to me since I’m working solo and yet don’t wish to be isolated. We went out to Gauchos Brazillian Steak House, the tradition at CMK, where I managed to sit with people I hadn’t yet met.  The conversation was fabulous because we all had some commonality of interests and experiences which was made even more amazing given all the differences in our backgrounds, positions, and passions.  We talked about woodworking, programming, all kinds of things, with an enthusiasm rarely found in a team meeting at school. Collaboration at dinner can be so much easier than during the work day.

So that was Tuesday, the halfway point in the CMK journey. Then came Wednesday, which was the day for the keynote speaker.  Carla Rinaldi gave a riveting presentation. She had some slides, but the way she spoke was the highlight.

Here are some tweets from the event:

Participation and cooperation are values that are integral to the community in Reggio Emilia. School was built by people after war.

At Reggio Emilia school, culture is both transmitted and renewed. It’s a system within a wider system.

A child is bearer of rights and potentials. A child is to be trusted. Never to be betrayed. They never betray us. Reggio Emilia

Teachers are part of learning dynamic at Reggio. Participants in learning process. Leave traces.

Learning in relationship with others as a group is central to Reggio Emilia.  Child raises village as much as village raises child.

Best learners must be the teachers.  has seven on Scientific Committee.

Listening to list of what a child cannot do is vastly different approach than listening to the 100 languages of children learning.

Teachers have choices when listening to children learn: enlarging the questions, offering complexity, offering connections.

Children are researchers making theories, hypotheses, doing science. Don’t betray them.

Reggio Emilia chooses continuity in child’s school life, as a research of meaning, of beauty ( not aesthetic ) as a connector.

Having a qualility of caring in relationship is a child’s right. Reggio Emilia via Carla Rinaldi

Dialogue between children and nature: children use various materials in scientific research about it, including digital means.

Carla Rinaldi thanks the teachers of Reggio Emilia who are allowing the children to learn in this way.
Standing ovation.

It was a moving presentation that I will carry with me moving forward.

In my next post, I will pick up where Carla’s Rinaldi’s talk left off.

What do you think about Carla’s ideas?

What do you know about Reggio Emilia?

Is there anything about it that strikes a chord?



Flexibly choosing first project to start #cmk2016

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

Last year at Constructing Modern Knowledge “Unconference” was my first.  I was a noob. And that was fine.  I experienced the whole catastrophe that comes from having been schooled for life to do what I’m told and being an educator for 20 years being expected to design learning experiences for others in which they will never wonder what is expected of them or what why we’re doing what we’re doing.  Administrators are supposed to be able to walk through a classroom and see posted on your wall “learning intentions” that are cross referenced to Common Core State Standards, Next Generation Science Standards, and the Vermont Framework for Learning.  And it has to align with Grade Level Expectations and Quality Expectations.

You get to CMK and be like

I can't even

We decide here what we want to do based on curiosity — both intellectual and creative — and passion, which sounds great until it hits you suddently. And the choices are practically unlimited.  You meet people, mostly educators, who are likewise both stoked and intimidated.  You jump in and go through all the stages of excitement, panic, overload, accomplishment, failure, frustration, and lots of other emotions and states of being.

This being my second time through, though, I be like

should free

This year I didn’t want to be in a group.  Not because I don’t like people. In part because I do like people.  A lot.  I would like to be silly and learn about their dogs and kids and jobs and make sure they feel included in every decision and happy with all the outcomes.  I decided shortly before coming here that I would go solo so that I could focus.  I could stay home, but it’s not the same.  Here there is a powerful surge of energy that comes from people on missions. People normally focused on young people in their charge and presently given permission to focus on their own learning.

I have brought with me some projects for which I have prepared by collecting items and reading up.  I have every intention of documenting my work with everything from pictures to video to blog posts and more.

My first project didn’t work out because I had purchased the wrong part by mistake.  I tried a work-around and it was going to be more complicated than I wanted to deal with so I chose a different project.  I quickly realized that I had not purchased enough of the parts and doubted that I could find the exact parts I needed here.

There is a ton of stuff made available here at the institute, but I just decided to go with a project for which I know I have everything:


I started by making sure I really have everything I need.  I threaded together some snaps of the parts as well as a preview of the tutorial online at Adafruit.

This project will involve soldering which I’m not really great at.  I’ve barely done it.  I’ve also welded, but under close supervision.  (Won’t need to do any welding this week….)

Here’s a preview of what I’ll be doing tomorrow:


Tonight, we are going to a Brazilian Steak House just as we did last year.  I was on a meat-free phase last year. So I ate bread and salad. I was meat-free all winter, but have fallen off that phase lately.  So I’ll be indulging.  🐂🐃🐄

Have you made any wearable electronics?

Does any of it interest you?

take it easy.png





Trinket Challenges at #cmk16

Monday, July 11, 2016

Constructing Modern Knowledge: The unconference that doesn’t consider teachers incapable of mastering difficult knowledge and skills.  Or, as Gary Stager says, “We don’t treat you like idiots.” Straight talk. Instead of learning how to use the Googles, educators attending #cmk16 learn in an atmosphere imbued with cutting edge technology where the hood is lifted.  Educators are allowed to get as deep as they can in the workings of electronic platforms and their components.

Photo Jul 11, 11 14 43 AM

We spent the day working on Trinket, getting it to blink, double blink, triple blink, work a servo motor, and more. Here is a thread of my snaps:


We worked alone and together. We went out for lunch in area sandwich spots and the park in bunches.  We gathered at the end to reflect upon what the experience of learning meant to us individually, and heard what the faculty thought about the experiences we were having.

Gary Stager, who tells us what he really thinks to a fault and beyond, gave us some historical perspective about learning breadboarding and coding.  He had a teacher, Mr. Jones, who taught him as a kid.  He learning computer programming in MUCH more depth than “Hour of Code.” Here are a few snaps of him threaded together:


And now the second day is getting started.  I’ve listened to the opening remarks, introcution of faculty, explation of the structure – and lack thereof – and the choosing of projects.  Here is a snap thread from that:

Click here to see  the photos of the ideas that were offered on flickr.

Or, just look at them here.

Photo Jul 12, 11 26 50 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 27 10 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 27 16 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 27 22 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 27 33 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 27 39 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 27 44 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 27 49 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 27 58 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 02 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 06 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 13 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 17 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 22 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 26 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 30 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 42 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 45 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 45 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 49 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 28 55 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 29 02 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 29 31 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 29 26 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 29 22 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 29 11 AMPhoto Jul 12, 11 29 06 AM

Now I have work to do, so, if you’ll excuse me…..

i'm on it.png

What are you creating today?







Making a Do-It-Yourself Switch to go with you DIY Button #passthescopeEDU #ecg2016 #EdCampVoxer

I’m warming up this blog with some fun e-textile action.  Don’t know what an e-textile is?  You’re not alone. The first post in this thread (no pun intended) can be quickly glanced at by clicking this mask:


E-Whaat? E-textile? Huh?

And if you want to glance at the post that comes before the post you are in right now, click on the DIY button below:

DIIY button

Do-It-Yourself Button

Now we get to the sister post, making a DIY switch.  Just as with the button, the making of the switch is not to make a better switch than LilyPad – or to make a switch that’s more quaint.  Making a switch gives a chance to get inside what a switch actually does, how a switch actually works.  And to have fun for a little while.  It’s not hard.  It’s not expensive. Here’s a link to the Sparkfun Electronics tutorial. The end product of mine is pictured here:


I could just as easily have used one of my generic battery holders to make this switch, but I happened to use the LilyPad battery holder.


Did you noticed that I hadn’t checked that my battery was working before using it to test this project? Oops. Learned my lesson, though.  Most of the time, I check the batteries very shortly before putting them into a new project.

Because this worked very well, I didn’t have the opportunity of learning a lot from it. I eventually came to see that things malfunctioning allow me the most opportunity for problem solving and understanding.  At the moment it happens, there is some frustration. But as long as I’m not in a hurry or uncomfortable or tired, it gives me a chance to get better at what I’m doing.

Since this has been a short post, I’ll conclude with a little project that uses the manufactured buttons and slide switches.  The end project looks like this:


The battery holder in this case does not have a slide switch directly on the board.  Again, I could have used a generic battery holder.  This one is LilyPad.  Here is the Sparkfun tutorial. Watch the video to see my process in action:


At the very end I should have said “turn off the switch,” but I misspoke and said “turn off the button”. A button turns off when you let go of it.  A switch as to be moved to disengage.

This little project is nearly identical to the e-sewing kit that I showed in an earlier post except for two differences. The e-sewing kit it is done on a printed piece of fablic. It also uses parallel circuits similar to the ones I demonstated in an earlier post.

The various compenent in the Design Kit can be used in unlimited ways, especially when combined with all the other products from LilyPad or DIY components such as generic LED’s that I twisted to make it possible to sew them into fablic.  Most on that in a later post.

Do you demand that everything you attempt is immediately successful?

How much tolerance do you tend to have for technical glitches or gaps in your knowledge?

What do you do when you’re stuck?





Do It Yourself Switches and Buttons for e-textiles #passthescopeEDU #ecg2016 #edcampvoxer

For those who don’t know about e-textiles, start with this little explanation:


If you missed the post about series circuitry, check out:

Those tiny white hairs on the blue felt belong to Nina, in case you’re wondering:


Today’s post continues the use of the LilyPad Design Kit from Sparkfun Electronics.  The difference here is that the switches and buttons are improvised, as you’ll see.  Hence the title, DIY or do-it-yourself.

DIY Button:

The idea here is that, sure, you can purchase a button.  In fact, LilyPad Design Kit comes with a few.  So do the protosnap sets that I’ll post about down the line.  But you don’t have to use the manufactured buttons.  If you chose to do-it-yourself, you might even learn something.  Like, how a button works. Not a button that goes up your shirt; a button that completes an electronic circuit.  Here is what a big, felt DIY button looks like when it’s done:

DIIY button.JPG

My process was thus:

I did not try to figure it out before I started.  I just started following the directions for gathering the materials.  I love having materials in my hand.  It’s reassuring somehow.  I look at the pictures and see if I can imagine what is going on.

Now, sometimes this gets me no where fast.  Most of the time, though, it gets me intrigued.  It’s a challenge, to overuse a popular buzzword.  I’m not challenged to prove to anyone, least of all to myself, that I can solve the puzzle. What I’m talking about is more of an entertainment. Play with a purpose. An example might be playing solitaire with a deck of cards, or, perhaps, mountain biking by yourself. No one is seeing you, judging you, keeping score, or praising you. The challenge absorbs you until you are either tired or bored.  While it lasts, you just ride it out for the sheer interest of it.


Okay, no more small talk.

Keep in mind that the shiny metallic-looking fabric inside the button is capacitive, just like the thread. Watch the video:


Here you see the inner workings of a button.  No one actually uses a button such as this. It’s for play. In other words, it’s impovisational in a make-believe way.  Did you ever play house when you were little?  Did you ever have an easy-bake oven? Making a button like this is simply a way to play electrician without getting electrocuted or starting a fire.  You can wash it, by the way, but take the battery out first.

good vibes


On to the completion of doing-it-myself:


Time for a Pop Quiz (a thing that never happens in the world of making, by the way):

Why is it not such a good idea to use conductive thread to sew around the edges of the button?

That’s right: Because it isn’t necessary since it doesn’t need to carry a charge and may end up short circuiting the thread that does need to carry a charge.

well played

Think about tasks that challenge you without the accompanying sense of competition or seeking of approval.

What is it about a task that gives you a sense of accomplishment without anyone noticing whether you succeeded or not?

What does that tell you about yourself?

Next post: DIY Switch

Keep in touch!



















From Parallel Circuits to Series Circuits Using LilyPad Electronics #passthescopeEDU #ecg2016

Here’s a link to the post introducing this series about e-textiles.

And here’s a link to the post where I last left off:


And now, without further ado, we come to the latest installment.

There’s really no reason why series circuits should be any more difficult, but, for me, they were.  And having difficulty is actually an opportunity for problem solving and therefore learning. I’m documenting my process so that others can see that the path to understanding is not always direct.  There was no one guiding me but an online tutorial.  I had to figure out why the connections were not correct and redo them.  Each attempt required testing.  This is an iterative process.


As I’m explaining what I’ve done, I’m actively explaining my thought processes and inquiring into how I went astray. I interrupt myself, going on a tangent.  I explain various things I checked for and how I decided to put on my glasses and look at the directions. Live and learn.

This iteration doesn’t work either. Perseverence.  I make some conjectures about my errors.

I had decided to literally do it over. I set aside my first attempt and used completely new parts on a new felt. “Back to the sewing board,” as it were.

Here I decide to do a little experiement midway through the task.  Instead waiting till the end to test it, I use a needle to test of the connections are good.  I think ahead to my next move.

Here I decide that I should try different batteries.  This was about the time I got the idea to use the simple circuit as my battery tester.


This is where I dig in and do some serious debugging.  I’m attempting to isolate the problem area by finding all the connections that successfully light up LEDs.  Notice that I state that it isn’t working “YET.” That’s growth mindset at work.

i'm on it


Here I’m becoming more practiced at troubleshooting.  You can hear my dog shaking in the background.


She gets bored when I’m busy.


Here I’m able to conclude that my error was in having too many LED for the number of batteries.  I had misread the directions.  Eventually, I will not need directions.  This is a step along the way toward that end.

struggle is real

I decide to put it on the back burner and move on to the next project.

This clip cuts off mid-sentence.  I’m trying to explain here that sometimes you have a problem and that problems are not completely unavoidable.

Think of times when you have encountered technical difficulties.  How did you get through it.  What was your mindset?

working late.png




From Simple Circuit to Parallel Circuit #PassthescopeEDU

My first post on this topic: “E-texiles?”


Most recent previous post: “Simple Circuit”

This series of post documents my own process as I learn to use electronics.  Beginning with non-programmable circuitry sewn into fabric, moving then into microcontrollers, and eventually into Arduino programming.

Today’s post branches into parallel circuits.  Looks like this:


The tricky part that I had to learn is to wear my glasses and triple check which was positive end of LED mini-board and which was negative.  Another thing to look out for is the conductive thread hanging out on the bottom side of fabric.  The knots have to be trimmed down to prevent short circuits.  Finally, must check that needle pulls thread all the way through.  Not an easy matter to go back and undo if you realize you left some slack.


Three upcoming virtual events:

First:  #EdCampVoxer takes place July 5-9, 2016.  There are tons of Voxer chats available to participate in. I will facilitate “Making as Learning” and “Green Screen Video Production”.

Second:   #passthescopeEDU which takes places on July 21st with my session happening at 1pm. I will Periscope at the end of a week facilitating ArtDuino camp with a group of young campers in Vermont.

Third: There’s another virtual event coming up with will feature some use of e-textiles. EdCampGlobal, #ecg2016, takes place July 30th all day.  The session I’m facilitating will take place via periscope at 2pm while I’m at the Rutland Mini-Maker Faire in Vermont.  It will be my second year with an interactive booth.  We make mostly non-programmable robots, but I’m expanding the offerings to include e-textiles.

If you are interested in knowing more, please let me know.  You can tweet me @msdayvt or @CynthiaEDay.

What are you summer plans?

Using LilyPad Design Kit to learn basics #passthescopeEDU”

Clear here for earlier post about “what are e-textiles?”

My most recent post demonstrated the use of an “e-sewing kit” from Sparkfun Electronics.  

This post demonstrates use of a “design kit”.

The design kit is meant to be more flexible and creative.  There are more components that can be combined in more ways.  The basic electronic foundations are no different than the e-sewing kit.

Today I found a wonderful explanation of electrical circuitry.  My words in this post are not for the purpose of proving my facility with teaching electricity and magnetism concepts, but rather to document my learning path with e-textiles.  If you, as a blog reader, are looking for student-friendly explanations, I can point you to and their “bug lab.”


The battery holder used here is not from LilyPad.  I bought a ton of them at much lower cost.  The drawback is that you can’t use a fat needle because there isn’t room.  That makes threading the needle more difficult.  You can use a little device to help thread the needle if you must.


Making a simple circuit is simple, but not a waste.  I now use this to test batteries.  It’s with me all the time.

July 21, 2016, is our next #passthescopeEDU.  My plan at this point is to show some of these little projects discuss upcoming projects.  It will be a 5-10 minute periscope beginning at 1:00 pm.  Follow the hashtag and learn from all of us.  My Twitter handle is @msdayvt.  See you soon!

July 4

e-textiles using LilyPad electronics

For an introduction to what e-textiles are about, look at previous post here.

Here is a very introductory sewing tutorial (11:04):


What follows is an easy to follow documentation  that can be used as a tutorial with use of the e-sewing kit, with links to products, photos, and videos.

Today, the topic is using a kit.  There are guides at Sparkfun: Part One and Part Two.

Here are a few short clips from my process:

First, I show getting started (2:28):


Next (1:11):


And (0:37):


Further (0:37):

Continuing (1:05):


More (1:04):



And (0:38):


At this point: You have a complete project. You can use the project for multiple purposes.

It can be sewed or glued to almost anything and it can be sewed onto nearly anything.

esewing kit.JPG

E-Whaaat? E-texile? Huh?

E is for electronics. Textiles are fabrics. E-textiles are fabrics or clothing items that have electronic components sewn into them.  Okay, but why? Why sewing? Why “wearable” electronics?

In short, it’s just a thing that people are doing. Like electronically powered scooters (known popularly as “hoverboards”), e-textiles (or wearable electronics) are in fashion.  They’re a trend, a novelty, and a statement one chooses to make.  Wearable electronics say, “I wear stuff that sparkles or beeps.  And you could, too.”


The above photo shows a mask that I made out of felt, glue, elastic, LED’s on little boards, conductive thread, and a coin cell battery tucked into a battery holder and hidden by some extra felt.  It isn’t going to win any awards for creativity or precision, but it does the trick.

To make it, I followed a pattern and used electronic components that were specially designed for the purpose.  Now that I know how they work, I am free to make my own patterns and design my own circuits.  I could go downscale and use garden variety LED’s or I could go upscale and add a programmable micro-controller that can make the LED’s blink, fade, or twinkle.


The picture shows the micro-controller in the center, four LEDs surrounded it, and a battery holder with a slide switch down below.  The micro-controller uses an open source programming environment called Arduino.  The components were designed at MIT’s Media Lab by Leah Bucheley and are called “LilyPad.” The micro-controller is midway between a simple, straightforward circuit as above and a more complex component referred to as a “board.”


Here you see the LilyPad “Simple” board surrounded by some inputs and some and outputs.  Along with the same LEDs as were shown above, there are a slide switch and button switch as well as a buzzer, a vibration motor, an RGB (red, green, blue) LED, a light sensor, and a temperature sensor.

Does this little ‘splain of e-textiles give you a sense of what they’re about?

It doesn’t go into the computer coding part of it, or the different ways to use them.  Maybe next time.

If you want to know more, stay tuned.

anything for you


can't wait