Students holding their LilyPad Arduino ornaments, feat. ChickTech and Blue Studios staff

In preparation for the holidays, ChickTech hosted a workshop for students last December 15 on holiday ornament making, with a tech twist:  the girls made and decorated their ornaments using LilyPad Arduinos.

LilyPad Arduinos is a technology designed for e-textiles and wearables.  They are microcontrollers or small computers that can be sewn to fabric and connected to other electronic accessories using conductive thread rather than traditional wires.  When programmed with Arduino software the computers can run code that instructs them to perform different tasks, like playing music or making a light blink

Closer look at the Arduino board of a student ornament

The holiday-themed LilyPad workshop took place in Brooklyn at Blue Studios, an education center that offers flexibly schedulable STEM programs for youth.  All twelve students who signed up for the workshop began filing into the venue at noon, first kicking off with some ice-breakers to get to know one another.  Then the girls were introduced to the technologies they were going to work with for the day in a presentation.

After socializing over lunch, the girls finally got to work learning how to program the LilyPads.  With guidance from workshop instructor Lauren Mitchell and teaching assistants Zoe Peterson and Rachel Kim, they were able to program their creations to use colored LED lights.  The students also enjoyed decorating their ornaments, each coming up with their own creative design in spirit of the wintry season.

Students and instructors connecting the Arduinos

“I saw a snowflake, gingerbread, Christmas tree, and a reindeer with a blinking red LED nose!” says Danique Jeurissen, workshop organizer and high school program director.  They decorated using a wide range of supplies, from felts and fabrics to washi tapes and Sharpies, but most notably?  “This must have been the workshop where we used the most glitter ever,” laughs Danique.

Students programming software

After three fun hours of programming, sewing, and decorating, the workshop wrapped up with all of the students finishing their ornaments and taking them home for the holiday.  Many thanks to the students who attended, the instructors and volunteers who helped run and organize the workshop, and the Blue Studios staff who kindly agreed to host the event.

The next ChickTech workshop on artificial intelligence will be held on Saturday, January 26, at IPsoft in Manhattan.

Let’s look forward to the workshops and events to come in the new year!

written by Alexis Kilayko

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