Breaking Boundaries: Mentoring with Wearable Computing

By Amy Pickup    31 Mar 2012

Quite a few workshops have been done with the LilyPad, but not many have been done with “at-risk” children. Kuznetsov, Trutoiu, Kute, Howley, Siewiorek and Paulos studied the use the LilyPad with “at-risk” girls as a form of art therapy through 5 weekly workshops. To build the curriculum, they pulled from art therapy, design studio culture and mentoring strategies with an aim to allow “children to explore and express feelings that may be difficult to explain.”

In an informal, large, open space including couches and coffee tables, the teachers avoided lecture-style instruction in favor for more participatory and interactive sharing sessions.

  1. Prototyping discussion: what’s common, fun, annoying about technology
  2. LEDs & buttons
  3. Programming with the LilyPad (analog vs. digital)
  4. Engagement and Curiosity: independent work, social critique and suggestions
  5. Creating circuit diagrams
  6. Sewing and adapting designs to fit constraints

The unique element about this experience by this subset of girls was the room for design options. Typically in arts and crafts, they are taught to repeat a newly learned skill. In this case they are able to use what they know to create something they can take home, show off and even offer as a present.

Things they learned:

They liked being taken away from their normal routine Prefer interacting with other girls over individual work It took a while, but eventually the girls warmed up to them Unfinished projects were a major bummer