When my fifth graders completed their light up robot paintings (View our robots here) earlier this year we concluded that the circuits were fun to add to our art but the way we closed and opened the circuit needed to be fixed. I looked into adding a rocker switch to the circuit so we could have more control over when our circuit is open or closed. I wrote and received an ABC/25 grant for the switches, copper tape, batteries, copper wire, foam board, and model magic clay to try this new idea. See the amazon shopping list below. I made this polar bear in a snow storm as a prototype to get a feel for creating a circuit on the back of a relief sculpture.
Step One: Design
Since we wanted to create a creature we used an app on our iPads called Create a Monster. This app had hundreds of configurations for monsters to choose from. We uploaded our monsters to Artsonia here and used them as a reference for our art.
Step Two: Add the switch
Adding the switch was a big task in itself since I didn't want to handout exacto knives to my third graders. We bore a hole into the foam core and widened it with scissors. We had to be careful not to make the hole too big or damage the foam board as we worked. The placement of the switch had to fit into our design somehow and not be too close to the edge of the board for fear it would rip through when we made the hole. Click to enlarge photos.
Step Three: Build the circuit
Building the circuit took some thinking for my third graders. They each received a diagram for how to create the circuit using a switch. I demonstrated under my document camera and led them step by step. We didn't complete the process in one class period so we bundled up our supplies and art in a gallon size ziplock and resumed the following week. All confusion cleared that second day when they flipped the switch and the light when on. They were then able to help each other and trouble shoot problems together.
Step Four: adding clay
Students used one small package of model magic clay to emphasize parts of their creature's portrait like horns, fangs, eyes, nose, etc. The clay kinda sticks automatically to the board and air dries. If it did come off the next time, they just added glue to it.
Step Five: Paint
Students spent time using color balance and good craftsmanship to paint their creatures. It was challenging to get into all the dips and nooks of the clay. They used paint markers to add texture or design and black to outline at the end. See all our finished art here.
Step Six: Demonstrate
Students used the iPads and iPad stands to film a short clip of them turning on their switch to light up their monsters. View a class movie below.
I've been playing with ways to make a switch or button on my paper circuit artwork appear more integrated and purposeful. The robot I originally played with had a momentary button that I designed over the battery into the belly of the robot. See it here. The button also worked as the mechanism that closed the circuit. This time I bought a button online that was spliced into the circuit and not necessarily near the battery. This meant the connection to the battery was fixed and pushing the button (with a satisfying click noise) completed the circuit. I've been playing with ideas in preparation for the fall since I finally received the Donors Choose grant for supplies to try this with my students.
Shout out to Journal Fodder Junkies and their 15 minute for 30 days sketchbook challenge #JFJ15for30. Today's challenge was for paper cut outs of windows and doors. It forced me to think differently about how to add more interaction to the paper robot with the eyes and helped me invent a way to hide the button in the belly. Thank you!!
See my previous posts on paper circuits:
and my "how to" video:
UPDATE: I tried adding the concept of paper circuits to a canvas painting. In this light up interactive painting there is no "button" to close the circuit. Instead there is a spring behind the painting over the cell battery. When you find and press the "sweet spot" the circuit is complete and the LED lights up the engagement ring.
You can view my other posts on paper circuits here:
Paper Circuits add STEAM to Learning
Light Up Robots with Paper Circuits
How to Make a Light up Robot
View our Entry for the What's Your Story
Internet Safety Contest
(Won the 2nd Place Prize)
View this musical tribute to the hard working teachers at Dryden and the students they love to teach.
Tricia Fuglestad, NBCT 07
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