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Textile Messages

Dispatches From the World of E-Textiles and Education


Edited By Leah Buechley, Kylie Peppler, Michael Eisenberg and Yasmin Kafai

Textile Messages focuses on the emerging field of electronic textiles, or e-textiles – computers that can be soft, colorful, approachable, and beautiful. E-textiles are articles of clothing, home furnishings, or architectures that include embedded computational and electronic elements. This book introduces a collection of tools that enable novices – including educators, hobbyists, and youth designers – to create and learn with e-textiles. It then examines how these tools are reshaping technology education – and DIY practices – across the K-16 spectrum, presenting examples of the ways educators, researchers, designers, and young people are employing them to build new technology, new curricula, and new creative communities.
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2. Learning and Designing with E-Textiles



The chapters in this section showcase a wide array of possibilities for bringing e-textiles into educational contexts—from schools to colleges and after-school clubs, for students of all ages and educators, and from science and engineering to fine arts and theater. This section examines the potential of e-textiles as learning tools that make technology visible or functionally transparent as the preceding chapter phrased it—a theme which threads its way through this book. The basic idea is that much technology hides what makes it functional, but this in fact is counterproductive for understanding and learning technology. Another way the theme of visibility comes into play is when we think about how computation cuts across disciplines, and many chapters in this section illustrate how computation becomes visible in fine art projects, theater play, design, and many of the personal artifacts that are created with e-textiles.

Chapter 5 by Kylie Peppler and Diane Glosson starts out describing youth learning about circuits with e-textiles in a Boys and Girls Club, an after-school program. Simple circuits are a cornerstone of e-textiles and of elementary science education, yet few people understand basic concepts like polarity and conductivity that underlie many everyday objects from batteries to light bulbs. Using conductive thread and LEDs, youth stitch simple circuits for a community quilt or more complex ones to make and program wristbands that can draw glowing text messages in the air. E-textiles add an important toolkit that can be used in schools for furthering...

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