Hack Your Baseball Hat! Classroom Wearable Tech and DIY by @SamPatue

There is something really exciting about the idea of wearable technology. When I started learning about microcomputers like Arduino and Raspberry PI, I was certainly excited about the idea of having a computer with me all the time, integrated into my clothing.

This is where the shiny attractive novel thing often outshines the purpose I like my class activities to have. Don't rush me, I will talk about why. First, I want to talk a little bit about how this first project came together.

This is what I call a bench project. My goal is to get this hat “working” and leave it on one of the benches in the room so the students can learn with it.

Before they invent their own wearable tech, they can examine the hat, program it, add to it. The bench project allows the learner to drop into the middle of a process and get an understanding of what to do.

This Hat is a Real Hat

Most programmable hats are boards attaching to other boards. In hardware parlance HAT is Hardware Attached to the Top. This Hat is a real hat; I made up a small run of robot workshop hats to celebrate the succesful conclusion of our first after school robot workshop. Then I realized that this could be my first piece of wearable tech.

Skill Building VS Design

This is a skill-building project for me. I don't know how to do many parts of the process and my main goal is to learn and develop a deeper understanding. This is a totally valid reason for building, but I like to identify it because it is so different that the design thinking based work I often share. Once I have a sense as to what I can do with this tech, it will become part of my solution menu in my design thinking work.

What is it made of?

In addition to the hat, I used components from the lilypad arduino development kit. This is a great kit because I could work with the proto-board to figure out the code and connections before I started building. If you don't know the site SparkFun, you are missing a great resource. IN addition to parts they have great support documentation and sample code to use.

What Does it Do?

For this build I used the main board, an RGB LED, 4 white LED and a Light Sensor. The hat has 3 functions. 2 LEDs blink, 2 are controlled by a manual switch and all 4 respond to the light sensor. When it gets dark, the lights come on.

How Will We Use It?

This will be a classroom piece to serve as a model and inspiration for my students. It will also allow them to try out some python programming without having to build something first. Making this piece got me enough experience in the process that I can be helpful. Now the work is crafting learning experiences around wearable tech that meet my goals of student empowerment and skill building.