When researching how educators have used Chibitronics with their students, I wanted to look specifically for English Language Arts applications – both because it is my content area and because I think it is often excluded from folks thinking about STEM learning. I wanted to bridge that gap and find ways to blend STEM learning into a “soft” subject like English.
I found this awesome lesson plan on Instructables that used the Chibitronics kit to make Light Up Poetry—basically, a visual interpretation of a poem. You can download the detailed lesson plan here (you’ll need a free account to access it) or watch a quick YouTube video that shows off the final result.
I think the instructor made a great choice in using an ee cummings poem for the project. I am generally a fan of ee cummings, but his poetry can be very abstract, especially for students who are relatively new to experimental and modernist poems. The visual display created with Chibitronics helps to convey the emotion of the poem.
I also appreciated the design process that the instructor includes in her lesson plan. She describes the challenges she faced in getting the light up display to look exactly how she wanted—she experimented with different paper types, printing methods, and other materials to have the leaves and words visible exactly how she imagined. It’s exactly the kind of prototyping and revising that we want our student makers to do!
When I looked at the final product show in the YouTube video, I was reminded of a poetry book project I did with my 11th graders when I was student teaching. Students selected a poem they had written throughout the unit and transformed an old book to become a visual interpretation of the poem. We then had a gallery walk where students viewed their classmates’ projects and spoke to the artist and poet about their interpretive choices. Now I’m imagining all the creative, amazing ways the students could have used Chibitronics and LEDs to push the book projects even further!