Sew Green: Sew White at #MACUL14

The Michigan Association of Computer Users in Learning (MACUL) conference kicks off tomorrow and my colleague Leigh Graves Wolf and I will be hosting a mini maker faire at our Master’s in Educational Technology booth in the MACUL exhibition hall (booth #124).  If you’re interested in learning how to create a felt badge that lights up, then stop by or sign up to be sure of a spot at the maker table: http://www.signupgenius.com/go/20F094EA5A82CA57-maet

You will also find an array of materials to help you make explicit connections between this activity and your curriculum.

How to Sew a Circuit into a Felt Badge

MaterialsSewnCircuitBadge

Two pieces of felt (Green and White, preferably)
An LED light (Green or White, of course)
A coin cell battery
A coin cell battery holder
Conductive thread [length will vary depending on your ambitions]
Scissors for cutting thread
A needle
Garden variety white thread
[long enough to sew around the badge]

Procedure

1. Put the battery in the battery holder. The “plus” side should be facing up. The plus sign should also be facing toward the “E” shape of the battery holder.

2. Thread the conductive thread through one end of the diode on the battery holder. Tie a knot to connect the thread to the diode.

3. Thread a second piece of  conductive thread through the other end of the diode on the battery holder. Tie a second knot.

4. Puncture the felt with the ends of the LED light. The light bulb will be on the outside of the badge. The two ends of the LED will be on the inside of the badge, attached with conductive thread to the battery holder.

5. Once punctured through the felt, bend the ends of the LED so that they’re flat against the felt — you’ll have to bend them down too so that they don’t stick out the sides of your badge.

6. Before you sew, check to make sure the positive end of the battery holder is connected to the positive end of the light; the negative to negative. Test this by seeing if your light illuminates when you touch the ends to the diode. You will extend this same circuit with conductive thread. Remember which end of the light attaches to which end of the battery holder.

7. Position your Battery Holder below the ends of the LED light so that you can sew the conductive thread through the felt and around the ends of the LED light. You only have one strand of thread for each end. Threading the needle with the conductive thread can be a bit tricky…but don’t lose patience!

8. Once you have both ends of your LED light sewn into the felt with the conductive thread, you should have an electrical circuit and the light should be shining!

9. Put the back on your badge by sewing it together with the other square using the regular white thread. The battery should be on the inside.

10. Once you’ve sewn it, together, attach an MAET button under the light.

You can leave the top of your badge open so you can remove the battery…but if you sew it shut, it will last many days!  The light pictured above has now been shining non-stop for six days…

And voilà! A wearable circuit that glows Spartan spirit!

Thanks to Scott Westerman, MSU’s Associate Vice President for Alumni Relations for helping us pilot this project!

This project was originally inspired by the great things happening at exploratorium.edu. This post and this post were especially helpful to us! Thank you!

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