Project Daffodil is a fun project that mixes pop-up books and electronics, with the goal of getting girls into STEM.
Their initial project follows a young princess named Cassie who has to complete various tasks along with her pet dragon to restore light to her castle. This isn’t just your typical pop-up book. There are LEDs embedded within the structures and Cassie’s dragon is used in various ways to light the LEDs. During the course of the book the reader learns about various science principles.
We talked to creators Sian Geraghty, Robert Foster, and Christine Ho to find out a little bit more about the project.
Why did you build it?
We are building this interactive electronic pop-up book for our graduate thesis project for the Masters in Multimedia Program at CSUEB. We wanted to build a project with a social justice aim. Given the tech boom in the Bay Area in which we live and the decreasing number of women in STEM jobs, we wanted to build a project that would encourage young girls’ interest in electronics. Additionally, combining simple electronics with the ever popular Princess trope in girls’ toys, we aimed to utilize existing play patterns and make electronics a female gendered activity.
Who do you find inspiring in this category of stuff?
We were greatly inspired by the work of Professor Marina Bers out of Tufts, who works with an educational pedagogy called “Constructionist” and advocates STEM learning through hands-on projects. Additionally, the ever great Hi-Low Tech group out of MIT’s Media Labs provided great inspiration with their many projects with the aim for educational projects on the cheap.
What were the biggest problems you had making this? How did you solve them?
The largest problem is providing consistent electric connections between two pieces of paper, especially if the pieces need to move like our pull tabs and pop-up pieces. In order to ensure consistent connections we have made a few different solutions that involve using very thin wire — 30 gauge to be precise — and copper tape.
What would you do differently if you started over?
We would have gotten a good electronic paper plotter cutter. Cutting out all the pieces by hand (especially the intricate castle) for each new prototype is frustrating. Also, we just found some really cool low profile LEDs that we wish we had found months ago before buying so many of the other types.
What does the future hold for this project?
We are working to refine this project until we present it to our graduate thesis committee in June. After that, things are less clear. We are looking around for a way to mass produce these, but it is a very labor intensive process currently.
What are peoples reactions when they see it?
Overall the reactions have been great. We have been showing the project at Maker Faires including Boulder and Benicia, and both went great. We are always ironing out different mechanisms and reliability, but we have been assisted greatly by the many children who have given it a try. Surprisingly, the reactions from boys and girls have been pretty equivalently positive. We were concerned that making a book aimed at girls would alienate boys, but our current research has not supported this fear.
Where can people find more info?