The Nebraska 4-H Wearable Technologies (WearTec) project was funded by the National Science Foundation's Innovative Technology Experiences for Students and Teachers (ITEST) program in October of 2014.
The overall goal for this three-year WearTec project is to study a systematic set of learning experiences focused upon the use of wearable technologies to effectively support student comprehension of the engineering design process and to increase interest in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) academics and careers by students in grades 4 to 6. The project is also interested in exploring the best practices for educators to bridge formal instruction time with after-school programming using wearable technologies as one contextual model to provide additional opportunities for students to pursue STEM-related experiences. Each step of the curriculum is tied to Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS) standards to encourage the effective integration of the activities into the school curriculum.
The curriculum begins with students learning basic circuitry skills by designing greeting cards with embedded paper circuits. The paper circuits use a small 3-volt coin cell battery, copper tape, a small LED, and card stock. Within the activity, students are challenged to use the engineering design process to build a mechanical on/off switch to preserve the life of their battery in the greeting card circuit. Other projects involve designing textile projects using the Arduino LilyPad ecosystem of components available from SparkFun electronics.
In years two and three of the project 3-day professional workshops will be offered to qualified teaching teams of certified teachers and after-school educators interested in working together to deliver the curriculum during the school day and in the out-of-school time. The teams are given time during the workshop to plan how they will present the material in both formal and informal learning environments. The teams provide feedback while implementing the WearTec curriculum on how they are incorporating the material in both the formal and informal learning settings.