Remember last week, I said I’d tell you what I bought at Radio Shack and how the program worked out? Well, happy Friday – here it is! I used conductive thread to make touchscreen gloves.
- What is it?
Conductive Thread! Conductive thread feels like regular 2 ply embroidery thread, but is shot through with steel.
- What’s in the Box?
26 yards of thin conductive thread on a metal, Singer machine style bobbin. That’s it.
- How Much?
- Age Range?
I did this program with tweens. It’ll work fine with middle school up, and younger if you’ve got a group that knows how to handle a needle and thread.
- How Did We Acquire it?
Purchased with Friends of the Library funds for my library’s program.
Ideas for Use
There are all kinds of amazing wearable electronics projects you can do with conductive thread and Arduino, but that’s still a stretch for me. I started simple here and just had the kids embroider small bits onto the fingers and thumbs of cheapie gloves that I bought at the Dollar Store. The conductivity of the thread allows you to then use touchscreen devices while wearing gloves. For detailed instructions of how to do this, check out our TPiB (Teen Program In A Box) over at the Teen Librarian Toolbox.
Plan 45 minutes to an hour for this program.
One-time or Recurring Program
Once they have a pair of touch screen gloves, they may not be interested in doing this exact project again, but you can always repeat it with different groups. Also, there are tons of extension activities.
The thread can be used in so many interesting ways:
And if you’re ready for some really cool stuff, jump into the world of Arduino LilyPad and go nuts!
Skills You Need
If you’re just making touchscreen gloves, all you need to know how to do is thread a needle and make a simple satin stitch. The skills to do the other projects are going to vary significantly.
Other Tools You Need
- Needle threader
- Gloves (I bought them 2 pairs for a dollar at the Dollar Store)
- Markers for marking the spots to stitch, and then for filling the fingers to make it easier to stitch.
This is a great project for librarians who are more comfortable with traditional crafts than with technology. It’s inexpensive, it’s easy, it’s cool, it’s useful, and it’s an excellent illustration of concepts that you can build on with other projects we’ve reviewed here. It’s a great way of demonstrating to teens that a desirable technology tool is totally within their ability to create.
Not so much a frustration as an unexpected situation: none of the kids in my program had ever handled a needle and thread before! So there was a lot of re-threading needles, untangling knots, and basic sewing instruction.
I have plenty left over, and am eager to try another project!
Two robot thumbs up.