My name is Tenaya Hurst and I am a Rogue Maker. I teach sewing, soldering, and programming electronics all around the world. It is my honor to help support the community of Boulder Colorado with this year’s STEAMfest. I teach workshops in schools, libraries, scout troops, conferences, birthday parties, and more. I have seen first hand the importance of STEAM and the maker movement to education. When a child has a traditional learning experience with books, essays, presentations, and tests, it’s important to also incorporate some hands on learning. STEAM is a way to constantly keep these important subjects present in the minds of the students. But why?
Team work. When we make, we learn how to work in a group. Make your ideas heard, listen to your teammates, and collaborate to the best creation. These are essential skills I missed in school. Whenever a group project was announced, I dreaded it because I was conditioned that only my individual merits mattered. Now that I’m in the maker movement and see the intelligent advancement of kids half my age, I see how those team efforts really pay off in creating more prepared people for our society. Even if a child becomes a lawyer or a doctor instead of an engineer or designer, that’s okay by me! The experience of creating an Arduino robot, sewing an electronic circuit, prototyping with paper circuits, or mastering the art of soldering – makes you a better person! You learn that failure is just part of the process instead of a devastating end to your creativity.
My favorite activity to teach is wearable technology, sewing with conductive thread. I find it is the best activity to combine everything in STEAM.
Technology – we’re learning that Lilypad Arduino and other hardware can be sewn into clothing and circuits can be created to help our daily lives and join the Internet of Things movement.
Engineering – there’s a lot of planning to make sure your circuit functions reliably and testing to try to find failures and solve them.
Art – the overall design and intention of a wearable tech project is the ultimate artistic expression because we’re going to wear it!
And Math…. I definitely wanted to incorporate math, but wasn’t sure how…and then I started using different colors of LEDs and discovered forward voltage! My students examine the data sheets of the Lilypad LEDs and compare the values. We can then calculate how much voltage (how many batteries) we’ll need to illuminate our desired combination of LEDs. I could make it easy on my students and always give out white LEDs, but it’s so much more fun to allow a struggle and give them an electrical/math equation as the solution to find…the solution!
My grandpa grew up in the great depression. From an early age, he was fascinated with the way the world worked and emerging technologies. He found wires in the streets of Chicago (from the first installation of electricity), took any small jobs he could around he neighborhood to learn skills, installed a doorbell at his house, accepted hand-me down tools, started a photography lab in his basement and even accepted a broken printing press to fix and use. He didn’t let his economic status hold him back from making. With the materials, kits, microcontrollers, and resources available today at relatively low cost, he would be proud that America is going back to a state of empowerment, WE can make things ourselves; we have value in our individual and collective innovation. My grandpa eventually achieved a degree in Electrical Engineering from Northwestern and was awarded both Tau Beta Pi and Eta Kappa Nu. He is my hero and I hope he’ d be proud of me, bringing electrical engineering to students in a new and emerging way with wearable technology.