Tag Archives: #edtech

Tinkering with Paper Circuits

paper circuit projects

My Paper Circuit Projects

I spent most of the past week out in Colorado for the Teaching, Learning, and Coaching conference (an amazing professional learning experience!) and in between sessions, I spent as much time as I could tinkering with paper circuits.

The goal of my work was to repurpose materials that I found in a thrift store or my basement to create something new using maker materials (in my case, circuit stickers) for my Adapting Innovative Technologies in Education class.

Of course, being at a hotel in a new city made it pretty hard to run down to the basement or find a thrift store, so I had to get thrifty with the materials I had with me. Luckily, I had some cardboard from the protective pieces that came with my copper tape and I had some paper and markers that I usually carry with me. Knowing that I had this work ahead of me, I had also packed my circuit stickers, some coin cell batteries, copper tape, and a few LEDs. I threw in some aluminum foil for extra conductive material and I even ended up having a few Legos from my work with the Urban Arts Partnership the week before. All of these items became my toolbox for creating a new invention with paper circuits.

As Koehler and Mishra (2008) state, “teaching with technology is is a wicked problem” and “wicked problems require creative solutions” so I set about trying to discover creative ways to understand more about circuit stickers, paper circuits in general, and how my students could use them. As I tinkered, I quickly discovered just how much of a wicked problem circuit stickers can be when trying to make things light up!

I started with some simple Google searches, which led me to explore a variety of resources on the web. I found some great video tutorials on the Chibitronics website, a number of creative project ideas on Instructables, and some amazing work by researcher Jie Qi.

My Paper Circuit Pinterest Board

My Paper Circuit Pinterest Board

As I did my exploring, I took notes in Evernote but found Pinterest to be a better tool to visually curate the websites and digital resources I was finding online. I’m excited to continue building my collection there and maybe upload some projects of my own, as my students and I begin to create things.

I found that the circuit stickers involved a pretty high level of frustration because of their fragility and sensitivity so I engaged in a lot of trial and error as I worked to create different projects. My culminating piece was inspired by this stop sign idea and this Makey Makey project, as well as a need I have seen in my own classes. Students are often so excited about their work or frustrated by some of their materials and a need to receive some assistance to get started, that they end up shouting out all at the same time. I created a prototype of what I am currently calling the “FYI Indicator” that can let a teacher know if a student has a question, a new idea, or needs help. Check out the video below to see my initial explorations and the final prototype I created:

I tried to capture my experience tinkering with paper circuits with both photos and videos. I even tested out the new Boomerang app as a quick way to show one of my LEDs being powered by an aluminum foil button/switch. I compiled all of these pieces in a video so that I could add a layer of narration to weave the pieces together and tell the story of my work. My hope is that being able to see the experimentation I did, including my mistakes, can help others understand how to do embark on their own explorations. What would you create with paper circuits and some circuit stickers?


Koehler, M. & Mishra, P. (2008). Teaching creatively: Teachers as designers of technology, content and pedagogy [Video file]. Retrieved from https://vimeo.com/39539571


Get Things Done with Trello


My Trello GTD Board

I had a chance to learn more about the Get Things Done (GTD) method created by David Allen this week in my MSU course Teaching for Understanding with Technology. I’ve heard of the GTD method before and even tried exploring it on my own but I always found the process a bit overwhelming.

A view of the calendar

A view of my Trello GTD calendar

I already incorporate a number of different tools (e.g., Evernote, Google Apps, Pinterest, etc) in my workflow to increase productivity but I often find myself reverting to the Mac Stickies app to collect to-do’s and prioritize tasks. Last year, I started playing around with Trello because I liked the visual nature of it and the way it integrates a calendar, checklists, and attachments like Google docs or links. Initially, I setup my Trello using this seven step process but I found it hard to sustain. I realized that I needed to better organize the various projects I’m involved with before figuring out which things to work on each day. Here’s the new system I created:

Throughout the day, quickly add cards manually or even via email to the “Stuff” Holding Pen list.

At the beginning and end of each day, review the Collect list and organize the cards into their respective project lists or the “Do it!” list if it is a task that takes under two minutes. If it’s a non-actionable item, I’ll add it to one of my Pinterest boards or Evernote, my two main places where I store resources and ideas to revisit later.

Once tasks are distributed among the project lists, I’ll jump into tackling the actions that take less than two minutes. Then, I’ll give items in my project lists that are a top priority (due in the next 2-4 days) a red label so I’ll know to work on them. Finally, it will be time to get to work on my projects!

I do wish Trello somehow let you have recurring tasks and also cards inside of cards because some projects involve so many actions. I’m excited to see how my new system works over the next few weeks and I’ll try to post an update here to share my experience.


Allen, D. (2001). Getting things done: The art of stress-free productivity. New          York: Penguin.