A couple months back, I learned about Creation Crate – a monthly subscription box to inspire makers. I received my first box on Thursday. As soon as I opened it, I couldn’t wait to get started. I checked my mail before heading out to the pool for the afternoon and so, naturally, I unboxed my Creation Crate as soon as I got seated.
— Stacey Roshan (@buddyxo) August 12, 2016
After the pool, I decided I’d spend a little time doing the build, but that I’d leave the programming for the next day since it was already getting late. But, as soon as I got started, I was hooked. I couldn’t simply stop midway through :) So my Mood Lamp was built the same day that I received the box!
I really enjoyed the fact that there were ‘light’ instructions; it didn’t feel like a step-by-step guide that I needed to follow to the letter. In fact, the first part of the guide – which gives instructions for building the hardware – consisted mainly of pictures showing where the wires should be attached in the final product. There is a tiny bit of labeling on the guide (i.e.: make sure the resistors line up on the same column), but the booklet isn’t meant to specifically teach about circuitry and building electronics. Personally, I enjoyed looking at the diagram and then thinking about how and why things needed to be connected as they were. If I was using this with a student, I would certainly want to include a lesson along with this task to teach them why the wires needed to be attached as instructed. And if I knew nothing at all about circuitry, there really weren’t any explanations available to help me through the build process. But like I said, with just a slight bit of background, you’ll find yourself thinking through the provided diagrams and building understanding as you physically connect the wires on your own.
After building the hardware, it’s time to code. The instructions tell you to begin by downloading the Arduino Software and one necessary driver if using a Mac. As with the building instructions, there isn’t a ton of instruction that goes along with the code. You can simply copy the code word for word from the instructions or even download the code from the website. But, I was happy to see that there was good effort to explain each line of code in the comments provided. With my programming experience and the commenting included, I was able to understand how this program was being run.
After the coding comes the debugging! I always think of the debugging process as an exciting and invigorating frustration. Ha! But seriously, the debugging process – as vexing as it can be – is part of what makes programming so exhilarating when your code finally runs. Because I have experience coding, I was able to debug my code without too much difficulty.
At the end of the instructions manual, several questions are included to make you think deeper about the coding instructions (ie: you are challenged to change the overall brightness of the mood lamp; a hint is provided to help guide you to the variable that needs to be adjusted). There was also one bonus hardware exercise.
Creation Crate is most certainly a wonderful way to spark curiosity and get students interested in asking “why.” As I was putting my Mood Lamp together, I kept thinking about how much fun this activity would be for a parent to do with their child. How awesome would it be if a school had a set of Creation Crate’s that students were able to check out, as easily as they check out books at the library? That process of learning, questioning, doing, failing, fixing, and troubleshooting together would be a powerfully fun opportunity!
If you are interested in checking out a Creation Crate subscription, I believe you can get 10% off your first box at this link: Creation Crate – 10% off
Full disclosure: I received this box for free in exchange for an unbiased review on my blog.