The Code and Create programme engages students hands on with cutting-edge digital technologies, aiming to develop new real-world learning opportunities within the National Curriculum.
The project was developed and delivered collaboratively by interdisciplinary designer Francesca Perona, teaching staff at Corelli College, and Student Mentors from Ravensbourne. It was a More Ideas College project and supported by the Comino Foundation. Project information and resources have kindly been shared with CREATE Education released under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International licence.
In this project the students were given a design brief inspired by the Japanese Fashion Week, and were asked to design and prototype fashion accessories, incorporating digital technologies in their products. Divided in groups, each team focused on a specific accessory: visor, waistcoat, armband, shoes and gloves.
A broad range of technologies have been introduced throughout the duration of the project. The teams learnt how to program LEDs with Arduino LilyPads, embed conductive circuits in fabrics, as well as design and incorporate laser cut and 3D printed elements in their accessories.
Students learn a range of practical and soft skills:
- basic electronics
- sewing circuits
- trouble shooting circuits
- integrating LilyPad Arduinos in custom circuits
- programming LEDs and sensors through Arduino IDE microprocessors
- visual research
- product design
- designing in 2D for laser cutting
- designing in 3D for 3D printing
- 3D printing
- design thinking
- integration of design and technology
- team work
- independent learning
- project management
We divided the project in 3 key stages:
- ideation and technical skills development
- integration of 3D elements
Stage 1: Ideation and technical skills development
The first sessions were used to introduce students to the brief, showcasing examples of inspiring projects focusing on wearable technologies, as well as introducing the project framework and dividing the students in groups. We divided the students in groups of 4 with each student having a specific role. In each group the design team was composed of 1 project manager and 1 laser cutting wizard and the tech team of 1 lilypad coder and 1 circuit engineer.
Students were taken through the design and prototyping tools available in the school, such as 2D and 3D modelling software, as well as laser cutting and 3D printing processes. Leaflets with inspirational work done with printers and laser cutters was prepared and given to the students.
The PDF download “Code & Create 1 Project Brief” contains the project brief, ideas and inspiration, and an introduction to the design and prototyping tools available.
From that point onwards the students were separated in the design and tech teams.
The technology expert spent the following 6 sessions training students on the technology.
The aim of these sessions was to help students creating a working soft circuit, sewn on fabric with conductive thread, with 2 LEDs controlled by the LilyPad Arduino board.
Students prepared the LilyPad boards, soldering press studs to the PCB petals, in order to create circuits through snapping the LilyPad legs to the fabrics. They then proceeded to sewing the electric circuits on the provided fabric templates.
The PDF download “Code & Create 2 Circuits” contains the process and steps to produce the working LilyPad soft circuit.
Having learned to configure LilyPad Arduinos with the Arduino IDE, the tech teams wrote custom code that allowed them to produce various patterns of flashing lights on their fabric prototype.
The PDF download “Code &Create 4 Coding” contains an introduction and steps to code the LilyPad and a series of programming challenges for the students to try.
Note: a lot of time during this technical development stage was spent troubleshooting software and circuits, which is time consuming but extremely useful to the students in terms of learning hands on how electronic circuits work (and die).
In the meantime design groups, supported by the teacher, started developing their prototypes ideas. The sessions were spent partly doing research at the computer, partly sketching ideas and sharing the outcomes with the members of the other groups.
The PDF download “Code & Create 3 Design” introduces students to the prototype design aspect of the project and provides examples and inspiration to get students started.
Stage 2: Prototyping
At this point the tech group joined the design group. The discussions in the following sessions focused on merging the design ideas with the technical challenges.
The team of teachers, technicians and experts supported these brainstorming activities and helped the groups finalise the designs, select materials, list key steps for prototype development and sketch the circuitry. The rest of the time was spent realising the prototypes.
Stage 3: Integration of 3D elements
While finishing their prototypes, students were asked to think about the branding of their products. They were encouraged to sketch potential logo designs for their products, as well as potential 3D accessories that could complement their flashy products. With the support of the teachers the students were then helped to transform those 2D sketches in 3D designs, that were then 3D printed.
In The Classroom
The Code & Create Project is an innovative extended design technology and/or STEAM project incorporating elements of electronics, computing, maths, product design and textiles along with an opportunity to enhance products using 3D printing. This resource outlines the stages of the project and the downloadable resources are ready to use, however some additional planning may be required in order to deliver the project and effectively support the students, some of the challenges of running the project are outlines in the accompanying case study on our blog.
The following physical resources are also required to deliver the project:
Tech prototyping kit
- ProtoSnap – LilyPad Arduino Development Simple kit
- Mini usb cable for breakout board and Lipo battery charger
- Adafruit Neopixels LED strips
- Lipo battery charger
- Soldering iron and solder
- Ultimaker and PLA filament
- 3D modelling software
- Arduino IDE