A design team from Penn created this sewable electronics kit for kids - Technical.ly Philly

Creative

Jan. 16, 2015 9:46 am

A design team from Penn created this sewable electronics kit for kids

It's a circus circuit kit called Cirkits (say that three times fast), and it wants to teach kids the basic concepts of circuitry via sewing.
The Cirkits team, left to right: Yasmin Kafai, Celia Lewis and Amanda Suarez.

The Cirkits team, left to right: Yasmin Kafai, Celia Lewis and Amanda Suarez.

(Photo courtesy of Cirkits)

Two things you generally don’t want your children playing with are needles and electrical hardware. Cirkits aims to change that.

The product, designed by an interdisciplinary team of Penn professors and graduate students, is intended to introduce children to simple series and parallel circuits by way of sewing circus animals.

Kids can sew six different characters, each varying in degree of difficulty. There’s the weightlifting mouse with light-up biceps, a monkey on a bicycle riding around a hoop and a singing elephant.

Cirkits GIF!

Cirkits character cards in action. (GIF courtesy of Cirkits)

Each character card comes with conductive thread, a plastic sewing needle and a battery. More advanced cards are accompanied by sets of electronics, including LEDs, motors, buzzers and microcontrollers.

So how’s it work?

Kids are prompted to weave the conductive thread through felt animal outlines. They start with the basic card and gradually advance to more complicated characters. All six characters can then be added to a complete board, which is screen-printed with conductive ink (very cool). Add a battery to the board and watch as the circus comes to town.

The creators have designed Cirkits to inspire a new generation of makers. “We wanted to ensure our product facilitated playing and learning, a key concept behind our research,” said Cirkits designer Taylor Caputo, who is currently pursuing her Master’s in Integrated Product Design at Penn.

Caputo and the rest of the Cirkits team have been working on this project for five years now, with demonstrations at Free Library branches and The Franklin Institute.

Before the team can get Cirkits on the market, they need to meet their Kickstarter fundraising goal of $15,000.

Support by Feb. 15

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