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MAKER: Light-Up Star Floor

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2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


New Orleans, Louisiana

Publication Date

June 26, 2016

Start Date

June 26, 2016

End Date

August 28, 2016





Conference Session

Make It!

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Paper Authors


Stephanie Hladik University of Calgary

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Stephanie Hladik is a M.Sc student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of Calgary. Through her research she is exploring topics related to the integration of engineering into K-12 curricula. In particular, she is interested in bringing electrical engineering, programming, and the engineering design process into K-12 education. Aside from her research, Stephanie also participates regularly in outreach programs to promote STEM topics in classrooms and beyond.

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Emily Ann Marasco University of Calgary

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Emily Marasco is a Ph.D. student at the University of Calgary. Her research focuses on creativity and cross-disciplinary curriculum development for engineering students as well as for K-12 and community outreach programs.

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MAKER: Light-Up Star Floor A local engineering and art festival has encouraged collaboration between engineers and artists to bring the joys of science and engineering to the public in beautiful and creative displays. These festivals serve as an excellent platform to pique the public’s interest in engineering and technology and encourage their participation in engineering activities and education. One aspect of the festival is a number of art cars, which are vehicles that often include scientific interactive activities. One such car is Star Car, which was revamped in 2015 to include a spinning globe, interactive touch circuit, and star floor. This star floor was made of seven individual stars which could be moved to illustrate various constellations that could be found in the night sky. These stars were placed on the ground near the Star Car, creating a ‘star floor’. The stars were entirely self-contained and powered by a battery. Apart from knowledge of space and stars, festival participants could learn about basic circuit theory. When enough pressure is placed in the centre of the star (i.e., from someone stepping on it) it causes a pressure switch to connect the battery to a string of light-emitting diodes, resulting in the star lighting up. This circuit knowledge is an extension of the concepts demonstrated by the conductive circuits on the car.

The star floor was a huge success and drew the curiosity of children and adults alike. This paper will outline the methods for building the stars. It will detail the decisions to choose specific materials and the design considerations for building the stars to withstand four days of constant use. As well, the paper will include revisions to the design based on their performance at the 2015 festival.

Projects such as the star floor invite children to apply the science knowledge they have learned in school to the outside world. These projects also inspire the maker community to challenge their design skills to create something interactive and durable while still remaining creative and awe-inspiring to people of all ages. Finally, by showcasing a more creative and engaging side of engineering and technology, we can inspire K-12 teachers to include more engineering content in their classrooms and attract more students into the engineering profession.

Hladik, S., & Marasco, E. A. (2016, June), MAKER: Light-Up Star Floor Paper presented at 2016 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, New Orleans, Louisiana. 10.18260/p.25629

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