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Textile Messages

Dispatches From the World of E-Textiles and Education


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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10 E-Textiles for Educators: Participatory Simulations with e-Puppetry



A group of eight young students gather at the front of the room to try on bee puppets in front of a large yellow hive made of fabric. The students quickly discover that these are not just puppets, they are e-puppets; they have special electronic parts with an array of LEDs that light up to help them play an activity called “BeeSim.” The teacher explains that when playing BeeSim, the students will be able to fly around to collect nectar from the flowers in the room. Looking around the room, the students see clusters of fabricated flowers hiding behind the bookshelves as well as in plain sight. The students divide into teams and are told to turn on their bee puppets and check-in at the hive. The gatherer bees then have a limited amount of time to fly around the room, collect nectar from the flowers by touching their fingers (the bee’s legs) to the tops of the flowers, and then return to the hive before their bee runs out of energy (i.e., before the light on their puppet changes from green to yellow then red). If the bees successfully find nectar, they can pass it to the storer bee at the front of the hive, and the computer will register the amount of nectar the team has collected on an on-screen display. The object of the activity is to be the hive of bees that is able to store the most nectar before the start of winter...

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