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The Big Reveal: Circuit Switches, Silhouettes and Shadows to Tell a Story

Philadelphia Marriott Downtown, Franklin 1/2

Explore and create: Deep-dive Creation lab
Preregistration Required
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Media Arts Production Teacher
Eleanor Roosevelt High School
Prince George's County Public Schools
Education Consultant
Ms. Liedahl is the Media Arts Instructional Specialist in the Department of Creative and Performing Arts for Prince George's County Public Schools in Maryland. Her responsibilities include managing, training, and supporting Media Arts teachers at the elementary school, middle school, and high school levels, coordinating Media Arts professional development, and supporting all creative arts supervisors and teachers in general. She also serves on several district, state, and national 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.

Session description

Learn how to create a piece of interactive media artwork that reveals a hidden story through paper circuit switches, silhouettes and shadows. We'll explore the effects of light through different materials, and select a specific material and technique that works best for an artistic goal. Then, you'll be able to bring this exciting lesson back to your classroom!

Purpose & objective

This session will build on the art of expressive circuitry on paper with easy-to-use surface-mount LED stickers, conductive tapes, and craft materials. Attendees will learn how to add interactivity by building paper circuit switches that align with materials that create silhouettes and shadows, blending art and technology in a fun and exciting way.

Takeaways include paper electronics concepts and skills, a multitude of examples of classroom projects, a discussion of how blended art and engineering approaches can be applied in classrooms across disciplines, and support in developing a classroom activity of their own.

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Participants will create a circuit with conductive tape, and an LED circuit sticker (20 min.). Next, we will add a paper switch to the circuit and add this new interactivity to a drawing or illustration (20 min). Attendees will learn how to “debug” and begin creating variations on their designs during the workshop (20 min). Finally, we will explore easy-to-access resources, including lesson plans and examples (30 min).

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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.

Solomon, C. (1986). Computer environments for children: A reflection on theories of learning and education. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.

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Session specifications

Grade level:
Skill level:
Curriculum/district specialists, Principals/head teachers, Teachers
Attendee devices:
Devices useful
Attendee device specification:
Smartphone: Android, iOS, Windows
Laptop: Chromebook, Mac, PC
Tablet: Android, iOS, Windows
Participant accounts, software and other materials:
A mobile device of any kind will be helpful if attendees desire to follow along with the presentation slides, links, and additional resources shared.
Subject area:
Performing/visual arts, STEM/STEAM
ISTE Standards:
For Students:
Empowered Learner
  • Students understand the fundamental concepts of technology operations, demonstrate the ability to choose, use and troubleshoot current technologies and are able to transfer their knowledge to explore emerging technologies.
Innovative Designer
  • Students exhibit a tolerance for ambiguity, perseverance and the capacity to work with open-ended problems.
Creative Communicator
  • Students create original works or responsibly repurpose or remix digital resources into new creations.