Day 93: Plush Monsters

Friday, 6 January 2017

It’s JanTerm day 4. Three weeks, one class, hands-on all day every day. I teach this with two math teachers just as curious as me and learn with 20 students in grades 9 and 10. Today was a half day because of an impending snow storm. Any jokes about Southerners not handling snow well will be met with my squinty-eyed death stare.

Wow, these kids did a great job! Plush Monsters are based on the Lily Tiny circuit components and this project from SparkFun. Several kids pulled fur off of yesterday’s toy take apart dissections and others made excellent color selections among our felt collection. Everyone learned to backstitch (which is useful with the conductive thread), how to troubleshoot a short circuit (easy to have happen with conductive thread), and how to blanket stitch around the outside of their monsters.

The soldering project earlier this week was a nice lead-in, even though Monsters are solder-free. Why? Well, I think my favorite is that all the kids understood polarity already. Testing the circuits was fun for me and mostly satisfying for the students. Here’s one:

We did this project last year and I’d say we made many improvements:

  • we allotted more time to sewing (about 5 hours this year)
  • ordered more needles with large eyes
  • ordered way more coin cell batteries this year (and managed the ones we did give out so kids weren’t draining them quickly with shorted circuits)
  • sewed the LilyTiny components on the outside of the monster (when you sew everything up inside a monster, it makes replacing batteries pretty much impossible!)
  • intentionally encouraged kids to keep parts of their toy take apart
  • purchased a ton of felt colors

Here’s what it looked like last year:

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4 thoughts on “Day 93: Plush Monsters

  1. When do I get to be in your class????

    • Come on down! January in Atlanta is bound to have better weather than NY. Well, maybe not this weekend when we’re expecting Snowpocalypse II, the Return to Hothlanta.

      In all seriousness, this class is so much fun to teach. It’s not even work. Don’t tell my school, but I’d pay them to teach it because they buy all the maker materials to feed my habit!

  2. Yeah, you know I can’t deal with all two inches of snow you might get… ; )
    I never got this fun tinkering mechanical/science exposure and it looks like SO MUCH FUN! Maybe you can do a workshop at TMC17…..

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