How to Get Youth Excited About Wearable Tech #WearableWednesday #wearabletech #STEM #education @4H
Growing up in Pennsylvania, 4H club meant sheep shearing, prize dairy cows, sewing and other country stuff. Nowadays 4H has caught the STEAM bug and all sorts of tech fun is emerging. A recent post by SportTechie described an exciting 10th annual 4-H National Youth Science Day, starring an Incredible Wearables program.
Jennifer Sirangelo, president and CEO, National 4‑H Council, said in a statement. “Incredible Wearables is an exhilarating experience that allows young people to roll up their sleeves and create cutting-edge technology, not just use it.”
Youth used kits specially designed by University of Nebraska-Lincoln to create fitness trackers. Components include an ESP8266 Thing, a Pulse Oximeter and a Tilt Sensor by Sparkfun. The way students customized their trackers with felt, yarn and goodies was great, and obviously the most fun came from testing with heart pumping activities.
The real secret to youth tech projects is keeping them do-able in a short amount of time, making them relevant (yeah, fitness trackers!) and making the connections to careers. 4H and partners have done a good job bringing these elements together, and their youth guide includes the mention of interesting jobs like neural scientist and horse technician. Sensors supply data and their uses continue to be discovered.
I know as a STEAM educator that having an array of sensors adds a lot of dimension for student projects. For that reason I like Adafruit’s Circuit Playground microcontroller. It’s got sensors for color, temperature, light, movement (x,y,z) and sound. There is also a speaker, switch, buttons and a ring of NeoPixels. There’s plenty of sample code and if you are looking for a mind and body connection project, check out our learning guide for the Meditation Trainer. It uses Circuit Playground and teaches students how to become aware of breathing and heart rate. No matter what parts you choose, have fun turning kids into the engineers of the future.
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Stop breadboarding and soldering – start making immediately! Adafruit’s Circuit Playground is jam-packed with LEDs, sensors, buttons, alligator clip pads and more. Build projects with Circuit Playground in a few minutes with the drag-and-drop MakeCode programming site, learn computer science using the CS Discoveries class on code.org, jump into CircuitPython to learn Python and hardware together, TinyGO, or even use the Arduino IDE. Circuit Playground Express is the newest and best Circuit Playground board, with support for CircuitPython, MakeCode, and Arduino. It has a powerful processor, 10 NeoPixels, mini speaker, InfraRed receive and transmit, two buttons, a switch, 14 alligator clip pads, and lots of sensors: capacitive touch, IR proximity, temperature, light, motion and sound. A whole wide world of electronics and coding is waiting for you, and it fits in the palm of your hand.