When we at The Hacktory were invited to present a hands-on activity for The Davidson Young Scholars’ gathering at the Academy of Natural Sciences, one scientific exercise came immediately to mind:
A ferocious, fire-breathing dragon
Students of all ages used conductive play dough and electronic components to sculpt a fantastic menagerie of glowing, moving clay creatures. As they exercised their creativity, the students also got to explore the science behind circuits and electricity (a principle which happens to be part of The Hacktory’s core educational values
Click through for our experiences making and using conductive dough, and more photos! »
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Background and details:
Have you been looking for an opportunity to level up in soft circuits? Program Your Hoodie is a class for people skilled in at least one of: sewing, circuits, or Arduino. By the end of this class, you will be reasonably competent in all of them, and have a sweet light-up hoodie to take home! We’ll have supplies to make a chain-reaction LED hoodie, based on a design by Penn’s eCrafting group, but if you have a project idea of your own, we highly encourage you to bring it. The hoodie uses two conductive patches on the cuffs as a switch for the Lilypad attached to the back, so your design blinks into action when you hold hands with yourself or others. Bring your hoodie to the Franklin Institute’s Astronomy Night, April 26, and join the circle of lights to celebrate the Philadelphia Science Festival!
The class will be two sessions, Wednesday April 10 and 17, from 6-9pm. (Class will include time to work on your project, so if you have to skip out a little early, that’s ok.) Instructors will also be present at Soft Circuit Saturday, April 13, 1-4pm, if you want to get extra help or work on your project with company. Thanks to generous funding from the NSF, this class is free! Students ages 13+ are welcome. Bringing a laptop to install the Arduino compiler is helpful but not required, we’ll have a couple of workstations you can use instead.
A free showing of the documentary Top Secret ‘Rosies’: The Female ‘Computers’ of WWII is scheduled for March 20, 5:30pm at the Comcast Center. This film by LeAnne Erickson delves into the history of the women who programmed and debugged ENIAC and its forerunners at the University of Pennsylvania. Get your ticket today! (Thanks to Far for the tip!)
Photo by Kevin Gotkin.
Want to get involved at The Hacktory? Next weekend, the Department of Making + Doing is having a potluck & work party, starting at 10am on Saturday, March 16, where we plan to paint some walls, build some shelving for our stuff, organize workstations/workspaces for specific tasks, and generally make the space our own. Lunch and afternoon snacks are potluck, so please bring a labeled dish to share. If you have a few hours and a hankering to help out, we’d love to see you!
Yesterday’s Soft Circuit Saturday was a ton of fun. Tim brought some squishy circuit dough he cooked up; he and Amy are taking this activity to an event next weekend at the Academy of Natural Sciences. After some trial and error and careful multimeter work, he succeeded in lighting up an RGB LED, but concluded that the dough’s high resistance required a lot of batteries to generate a visible glow. I think he’s planning another batch with more salt and/or less flour.
Photo by Kevin Gotkin.
Steph dug up the silkscreens for our Heart of a Maker tshirts
, and printed a striking poster to put on our front door. We also printed purple Hearts on the backs of some older shirts we found in a box, but ran out of time to run them through the heat press to set the ink. So, we’re looking forward to more silkscreening some time! Read More
Before I recap last night’s Project Night, a couple of notes:
- We’ve renamed Thursday Open Hacks to Project Night, because sometimes you just get tired of the word “Hack”.
- Tomorrow is Soft Circuit Saturday, March 9 from 1-4pm!
- Next week’s Project Night is March 14, which coincides with Ignite Philly and Pi Day! Come by The Hacktory for pie and hopefully a livestream of the Ignite talks, including one by Hacktory organizers.
This week, we had a decent-sized crowd at Project Night. JD brought some oscilloscope probes, so he and Sharp hooked them up and went hunting for interesting periodic signals, to verify that the ‘scope works properly. Steph, Amy, and Georgia took over the couch to polish slides for their Ignite Philly talk next week. Jenna, who created a great visualization with Isotope for the Gender Gap data at last weekend’s Lady Hackathon, added more features and styling to the timeline, and also shared her ideas for an interactive display using d3. Some students from Drexel discussed how they’re using Arduinos and sensors to control lighting in their design project, and wired up some LEDs to test out some ideas for their program. And friends from Prometheus Radio stopped in for a tour and promised to come back next week to build a radio project of theirs. I’m looking forward to hearing more about what people are working on at the next Project Night!
Philly continues to strengthen and diversify it’s tech community with the addition of the first hackathon for women* in the area. This Friday at Saturday March 1 & 2, come out to LadyHacks hosted by WHYY where programmers, graphic designers, interface designers and project managers will collaborate intensively on software projects. See more info on the event website, including acknowledgement of the complicated nature of the word “women” and an invitation for men to join the mentor groups. If you’re familiar with The Hacktory’s Hacking the Gender Gap, one of the projects you could potentially work on will be creating a digital version of the timeline. Registration is $10, which you can do here.
Photo courtesy of Tim Bieniosek.
Last week at Open Hack, we had a good crowd of folks eager to share their interests and check out the facilities. Sharp brought some cool toys to show off: a bottle opener fresh from his brand new 3D printer, and an old GameBoy that he’s reprogrammed to play chiptunes. Several folks mentioned their own synthesizer/audio projects; maybe we should hold a synth-focused workshop or project session? Tim brought his quilt, which has a grid of LEDs wired into it plus a thermistor to change the glowing spectrum towards the red as the blanket warms up. He spent the evening adding a top layer to the quilt, to protect the wiring and create a gentle frosted effect.
At last Thursday’s Open Hack, we had an impromptu going-away for Brigid, who’s been teaching and organizing events at the Hacktory for the past year, including our fantastic Intro to Arduino classes. She’s leaving Philadelphia for a few months, but we look forward to her triumphant return. We also had some folks shooting footage for a video we’re making about our artist-in-residence grant, as we’re considering a Kickstarter campaign. (If you want to be part of the video, on either side of the camera, leave a comment!) Aaron, a friend from NTR who lives in South Jersey, brought news of a burgeoning shop/hacker space there; folks across the river who would appreciate a place to build closer to home, stay tuned!