Digital Leadership
Summit at ISTELive 20
Creative Constructor
Lab Virtual
Edtech Advocacy &
Policy Summit

Light Up the Room With Paper Circuits

Location: W190a

Participate and share

Participate and share : Interactive lecture

Wednesday, June 27, 10:00–11:00 am
Location: W190a

Natalie Freed   Colleen Graves   Jie Qi  
Paper circuitry blends paper craft with circuits and code to engage diverse learners in creating technology. We'll introduce paper circuitry with a hands-on activity, show you how it successfully engages girls and women in STEM through art, and share resources for teachers to bring back to the classroom.

Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Focus: Digital age teaching & learning
Topic: Maker activities and programs
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Computer science
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Use technology to create, adapt and personalize learning experiences that foster independent learning and accommodate learner differences and needs.
For Students:
Computational Thinker
  • Students break problems into component parts, extract key information, and develop descriptive models to understand complex systems or facilitate problem-solving.
Creative Communicator
  • Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Purpose: introduce basics of paper circuitry using Chibitronics circuit stickers as a creative learning tool that blends arts and crafts, personal expression with engineering and technical problem solving. Our hope is to engage more diverse learners, especially girls, in electronics and engineering by providing more expressive pathways than traditional means.

Tools: using Chibitronics LED stickers which are peel and stick electronic modules, battery, copper tape and Velostat (pressure sensor materials); we will also demonstrate how to program these circuits using the Love to Code clip (full coding workshop in a separate submission) as a way to "level up" from introductory activities

Approach: We invite participants to take a STEAM/creative learning approach where they make personalized, physical artifacts as part of learning to make electronics. Blending personal interests through drawing and decoration and technical concepts through circuit building as a way to provide many pathways toward STEM learning.

- share an overview of paper electronics, how educators have used it in their classroom and useful resources
- Participants will create interactive light-up cards and learn basic electronics concepts of power, resistance, voltage, conductivity, polarity
- Together we will reflect on how this hands-on, blended art and engineering approach can be applied in their classrooms across topics.

- Card circuit template:
- Circuit Sticker Sketchbook:
- Love to Code Volume 1:


Content and Activity: Introduction presentation to paper circuitry and short hands-on activity where participants create their own paper circuit light-up LED card with DIY pressure sensor and decorate to illuminate their "bright ideas"

15 min: introduction to paper circuits
20 min: hands-on paper circuit activity
10 min: presentation on programming paper circuitry and additional educator resources
15 min: reflection and discussion of activity with audience and how to apply in their own learning spaces

We will begin with a short presentation, followed by a hands-on building activity (materials packets will be placed on each seat so participants will have supplies when they walk in!) and share creations with neighbors. In the second half of the presentation, we will have a short talk on programming, followed by reflections and Q&A

Supporting research

1. Jie's dissertation:
2. Leah Buechley's (Jie's thesis advisor) TED talk on how to sketch electronics:
Related books chapters:
3. Chapter on blending circuitry with paper craft using Chibitronics:
Jie Qi, Jennifer Dick and David Cole. (2016). “Paper Electronics with Circuit Stickers.” In K. Peppler, E. R. Halverson, & Y. B. Kafai, Makeology: Makerspaces as Learning Environments Vol 1. Routledge, New York, NY, USA, 64-79.
4. Chapter on using paper electronics for promoting literacy:
Christina Cantrill and Paul Oh. (2016). “The Composition of Making.” In K. Peppler, E. R. Halverson, & Y. B. Kafai, Makeology: Makerspaces as Learning Environments Vol 1. Routledge, New York, NY, USA, 64-79.
5. Jie Qi is featured artist for paper electronics in Karen Wilkinson and Mike Petrich's The Art of Tinkering. Weldon Owen. 2014.
6. Article in School Library Journal about paper circuitry:
7. Educator Innovator/National Writing Project article on Hack Your Notebook Day:
8. Maker Camp episode:
10. The Big Book of Makerspace Projects by Colleen Graves

More [+]


Natalie Freed, Chibitronics
Colleen Graves, JoyLabz

Colleen Graves is a teacher librarian and education consultant obsessed with making stuff. She writes about what goes on in her library makerspace on her blog at and is also co-author of The Big Book of Makerspace Projects, Challenge Based Learning in the Library Makerspace, and 20 Makey Makey Projects for the Evil Genius. She can be found on Twitter @gravescolleen and Instagram @makerteacherlibrarian.

Jie Qi, Chibitronics

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