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STEAM Festival: Technology for Kids

Share It! Science and Growing with Science are pleased to announce we are teaming up for a week long Children's Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math (STEAM) Festival. Please join us for information and project ideas to help your family explore STEAM-related activities for the summer and beyond.

Today we are highlighting technology.  Sarah at Share It Science has an excellent post:  Exploring Kids' Opportunities in Technology, including information about coding, making, robotics, and more. Here we let loose our fascination of wearable technology, in particular high-tech clothes.

[Note:  I am an affiliate of Amazon (See disclosures below). I am not affiliated with any of the other companies or products mentioned in this post.]

What is technology?

Technology is an application of science and engineering to make or produce items that solve problems or make tasks easier.

Using that definition, is a pencil an example of technology? Sure, pencils make it easier to write and draw. Technology doesn't have to be invented recently or be particularly complicated.

In this post, however, we are going to look into the future, inspired by two children's books.

Hi-Tech Clothes (Design and Engineering for Stem) by Richard Spilsbury introduces young readers to the exciting world of high-tech, or as he calls it "hi-tech," clothing.

Clothing that is high-tech can solve any of a number of problems. It can make the wearer warmer, drier or safer through the use of modern technology.

Where technology literally shines, however, is in the area of fashion.

Check out these gorgeous color-changing dresses by CuteCircuit (note:  the second dress does have a plunging neckline).

Haute Couture backstage - France 2012 from CUTECIRCUIT on Vimeo.

How cool is that?

The World's Oddest Inventions (Library of Weird) by Nadia Higgins also features some high-tech clothing.

How about a dress that moves and changes when the viewer looks at it? Ying Gao's dress uses eye-tracking technology and photoluminescent thread to produce some striking effects, shown in this video:

(no)where(now)here : 2 gaze-activated dresses by ying gao from ying gao on Vimeo.

The book also features an Electronic Guitar Shirt (affiliate link goes to Amazon where you can see the shirt) that has a graphic that is actually playable. It comes with a small amplifier as well.

The idea of wearable technology goes well past fashion. Recently Google and Levi Strauss & Co. announced Project Jacquard, a cooperative research project to stretch the limits of how we use and wear digital technology. In the future, accessing a computer might be as simple as brushing your sleeve.

Clothing Technology Activities:

1. Add LED lights to an outfit or shoes.

How might adding LED lights make clothing more useful? In addition to the striking beauty of the clothes above, in the future LED lights in our clothes might light up to warn of a health issue or help keep us safe when walking or biking at night.

Obtain some self-contained LED lights (for example, flashing LEDs, Candy Lites or Aniomagic kits.) Or you can sometimes find LED lights already incorporated into inexpensive toys or costumes that can be re-purposed.

Let you imagination run wild and attach the LED lights to an outfit, costume, or shoes.

E-How has instructions for using conventional LEDs to light up a shirt. Just be sure you know enough about electronics not to create a short circuit, which could result in a fire.

2. Investigate Clothing Technology

New clothing technology can help in a number of practical ways, such as:

  • Monitor the health of the wearer by measuring heart rate,  temperature, fatigue levels, etc.
  • Gather movement data like a step-counter or to improve the wearer's golf swing
  • Record exposure to hazardous materials
  • Track the position of the wearer via gps
  • Help the wearer perceive the environment, especially if one or more senses are impaired.

Research some of the clothing technology that interests you. Think of new designs and new ways to incorporate technology into clothing. Write a report or create a video to share what you found.

Intrigued? Here are some related sources of information:

Fairytale Fashion has a series of instructional videos, including a video of a great STEAM-inspired fashion show, plus an (expensive) kit to try some of the fashion technology (probably for older teens+)

Investigating camouflage and invisibility post

Suzanne Lee: Grow your own clothes TED Talk

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Disclosures: The books were provided by the publisher for review purposes.  Also, I am an affiliate for Amazon. If you click through the linked book titles, images or ads and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no extra charge to you. Proceeds will be used to maintain this self-hosted blog.

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Our activity schedule is as follows:

June 22: Science
Growing with Science: Science activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Are You a Scientist?

June 23: Technology
Growing with Science: this post
Share it! Science: Exploring Kid's Opportunities in Technology

June 24: Engineering
Growing with Science: Engineering Activities for Kids
Share it! Science: Rube Goldberg Machines- an Engineering Challenge

June 25: Art with a STEM focus
Growing with Science: Art Activities for Kids with a STEM Focus
Share it! Science: Family STEAM Night- Where Art Meets Science!

June 26:  Math
Growing with Science: New math books for kids
Share It! Science: The Golden Ratio in the Garden

We would love to hear your questions or suggestions for STEAM-related projects to share with others. Let's heat up the summer with STEAM!

 

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