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5 Stories From the Land of Paper Circuits

Listen and learn

Listen and learn : Snapshot

Saturday, December 5, 9:00–9:45 am PST (Pacific Standard Time)
Presentation 2 of 2
Other presentations:
Tech Girls Rock!

Susan Brown  
Barbara Liedahl  
Takia Toomer  

Creative educators worldwide have built expressive electronic circuits using paper and paper-friendly microcontrollers, LED stickers, motors and sensors, integrating media arts, coding and maker mindsets. Hear stories from five “neighborhoods” in our Land of Paper Circuits and leave with ideas and resources for bringing this experience to your classroom.

Audience: Curriculum/district specialists, Teachers, Library media specialists
Skill level: Beginner
Attendee devices: Devices useful
Attendee device specification: Smartphone: Windows, Android, iOS
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials: Any browser will work.
Topic: Computer science & computational thinking
Grade level: PK-12
Subject area: STEM/STEAM, Performing/visual arts
ISTE Standards: For Educators:
  • Collaborate and co-learn with students to discover and use new digital resources and diagnose and troubleshoot technology issues.
  • Design authentic learning activities that align with content area standards and use digital tools and resources to maximize active, deep learning.
For Students:
Creative Communicator
  • Students communicate complex ideas clearly and effectively by creating or using a variety of digital objects such as visualizations, models or simulations.
Disclosure: The submitter of this session has been supported by a company whose product is being included in the session
Influencer Disclosure: This session includes a presenter that indicated a “material connection” to a brand that includes a personal, family or employment relationship, or a financial relationship. See individual speaker menu for disclosure information.

Proposal summary

Purpose & objective

Purpose and Objectives:
The purpose of this session is to share true stories from five “neighborhoods” in the Land of Paper Circuits, inspiring educators to bring arts-integrated, hands-on/minds-on learning opportunities into virtually any content area. Attendees will hear personal stories from the artist-inventor behind Chibitronics, and several school administrators, educators and students who have gone beyond the introductory and fun “blink the LED” activities into deep learning and real-world application. We will do this through the art of storytelling, sharing images and video of expressive papercrafting, circuitry and coding. Attendees will receive resources including research-based standards-aligned learning activities that they will be able to use back in their own schools.

Educational or infrastructure challenge/situation:
Computational Thinking is now seen as a formative skill for the contemporary world. Helping our students build a habit of practice that uses these skills in their daily lives better prepares them for the challenges they will face in the future. Educators have been bringing maker activities into the classroom for a while now, but what happens after that initial empowering experience? How do we bring our students to real depth of knowledge?

Technology intervention/tools:
This presentation explores a Media Art that blends papercraft, circuits and coding using resources from Chibitronics. Through creative craft activities and with the help of the Love to Code interactive storybook, learning to code can be fun, friendly and expressive, while also learning programming concepts including digital and analog I/O, control flow, variables and multithreading - all for the purpose of storytelling; telling our stories, stories of what we have learned, and how we can create new stories for our world.

Lesson plans or instructional activities/strategies employed, including brief description of instructional electronic resources or tools used.
Takeaways include examples of classroom projects, discussion of how blended art and engineering approaches can be applied in classrooms across disciplines, and support in developing classroom activities of their own. These integrated activities are designed to support perseverance and student growth-mindset attributes.

Evidence of Success:
This session will inspire educators to provide learning opportunities for students that develop skills in authentic processes of computational thinking that includes problem-solving, critical thinking, inquiry, inventing, exploring and discovering (21st Century Skills). Physical computing, the new color in the media arts palette, requires time and practice to build an understanding of how one might integrate it into one’s work.


The session will begin with a brief introduction to paper circuitry, telling the first story in our series from the Land of Paper Circuits of how teams of inventors and educators worked toward making creative engineering and circuitry accessible and affordable for students. We will discuss its transformational potential for today’s classroom and share artifacts of the building process. The second, third, and fourth stories from the Land of Paper Circuits include examples and reflections from administrators, teachers, and students on how they took “blink an LED” to the next several levels of understanding and application. Lastly, we will share resources for professional development, links to project ideas, essential questions, and future projects in the works. Attendees will be encouraged to actively participate by connecting to online resources posted on the session’s Google Site, and contributing to a shared Google Doc where audience members can contribute their ideas and stories as well.

Supporting research

Makers in Schools: Entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution (2018) Brown, S. & Liedahl, B.

Martinez, S. L., & Stager, G. (2013). Invent to Learn: Making, tinkering, and engineering in the classroom. Torrance, CA: Constructing Modern Knowledge Press.

Mountsfield Makersville. (n.d.). Retrieved June 18, 2018, from

Papert, S., & Solomon, C. (1971). Twenty things to do with a computer. Cambridge, MA: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, A.I. Laboratory.

Qi, J. (2012).The Fine Art of Electronics: Paper-based Circuits for Creative Expression.

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Susan Brown, William Wirt MS

Co-author and co-editor of “Makers in Schools: Entering the Fourth Industrial Revolution” published by Edumatch, Susan has previously facilitated workshops featuring hands-on, constructivist activities at ISTE conferences and other National and Regional Conferences on this topic and on Arts Integration, STEAM, and Technology Integration. Certified to teach K-8, Masters of Instructional Technology, and Admin Certification, L. Susan Brown believes that her youth spent as a 4-Her was a major influence on her hands-on, project/problem-based perspective, and that hands-on, constructivist experience from PK-12 is at least half of a well-rounded education.

Barbara Liedahl, Prince George's County Public Schools

Ms. Liedahl is the Media Arts Instructional Specialist in the department of Curriculum and Instruction for Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland. Her responsibilities include managing, training and supporting Technology Integration and TV Production instructors at the middle school and high school levels, coordinating creative arts technology professional development, and supporting all creative arts supervisors and teachers in general. She also serves on several district and state committees. Embracing the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) framework, Ms. Liedahl promotes cross-curricular collaboration with technology and arts integration, including Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts and Mathematics.

Takia Toomer, Prince Georges County Schools

Ta' Kia Toomer has been an educator for the past 20 years. In those twenty years, I've been an elementary school teacher, school counselor, testing coordinator, ESOL teacher, and hold after-school STREAM and Makerspace clubs. My interest includes reading, learning, crafting, playing with techy tools, and spending time with my family.

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