Stitching the Loop: An Electronic Textiles Unit in Exploring Computer Science

Stitching the Loop: An Electronic Textiles Unit in Exploring Computer Science


In our new curriculum unit, students explore electronic textiles (e-textiles): articles of cloth­ing, accessories, or home furnishings with embedded electronic and computational elements. This curriculum is an alternate for Unit 6: Robotics. After conducting various studies on curriculum design, teaching strategies, student learning, and portfolio designs, this unit is ready for download and classroom implementation by ECS teachers.

Design-Focused: To make electronic textiles (e-textiles), students first imagine and journal about the project they wish to make, then design circuits that connect a programmable Arduino-based microcontroller with sensors and actuators such as lights and speakers.

Hands-On: Students make four open-ended projects that require them to use high and low-tech materials and hone their crafting skills. Students stitch circuits with conductive thread to create artifacts such as cards, clothing, murals, and toys that sparkle, connect, and interact.

Integrative: Students work both individually and in groups to make their e-textiles. Projects blend skills across fields, expanding students’ understanding of what computer science can be and engaging those who may not have realized that it can include their interests. Learn more about curriculum and projects

Stitching the Loop is a complete package

Unit 6: Electronic Textiles includes a curriculum guide outlining all project activities with detailed information on:

  • How computational concepts and practices are introduced through making e-textile projects
  • How students can document and reflect on their learning by creating digital portfolios
  • How the e-textiles unit builds on other units within ECS, and
  • How e-textiles as a topic connects to CS standards.

In addition, we provide the following three guides to help teachers implement the curriculum with the greatest ease possible:

  • The Technical Guide, which offers tips for constructing and troubleshooting e-textiles projects.
  • A Materials Guide with shopping lists and retail sources for purchasing materials needed for the unit.
  • The Coding Platform Guide, which assists teachers in making decisions about which platforms best suit their classrooms.

The download package for the unit also includes extensive supporting files such as student handouts, starter code, solutions, rubrics, and more.