Elenavercher loves engaging her primary school students, inspiring their imagination as well as teaching them the design thinking process. She has found that the very accessible rapid prototyping culture of 3D printing, micro:bit, and the like are perfect for teaching her students problem-solving and teamwork, and is always coming up with new lessons that will catch their attention. That brings us to her latest design, an interactive lantern and wand, which you could say is of the wizarding variety.
The lantern and the wand each have an integrated micro:bit serving as their brains. When the user shakes the wand, releasing a spell, the micro:bit in the wand, sends a user-defined number to the micro:bit in the lantern. The lantern has NeoPixels built-in, which then turn on, illuminating the lantern. When the user presses a button on the micro:bit instead of shaking it, the wand sends a signal to the lantern that tells it to “turn off.” Pretty simple, right?
The design itself is something any seasoned hacker could recreate; however, the magic in this build is how [Elenavercher] beautifully engages her elementary-aged students in the engineering design process. She starts off by encouraging her students to prototype the lantern and wand using paper which is a very inexpensive way to help them visualize the final product before investing too much time into the 3D design, a critical engineering design step — prototype fast and cheap with whatever you have on hand.
She then helps them design the lantern and wand in Tinkercad, a very beginner-friendly, yet increasingly capable CAD program. We really appreciate her detailed steps for the design as well as for navigating Tinkercad, both of which will help teach any tiny tikes in your life how to recreate the design. What’s really handy about Tinkercad is you can do mechanical CAD as well as write code for the micro:bit all within the same program. But [Elenavercher] also provides the final .hex file if you’d rather just get the build up and running.