NeoPixel Hedgehog Necklace

Mocha the hedgehog wearing her new NeoPixel necklace – designed by students in Street Corner STEAM.

NeoPixel Hedgehog Necklace

In this activity guide, you will learn to program an infrared remote control to change the color of lights on a NeoPixel strip.

Total read time: <7 minutes

Skill level: Beginner

Street Corner STEAM

On Wednesday evenings, I lead a free STEAM activity in a location that also serves free meals. Activities are designed for 10-12 year old students, but in reality we have five-year-olds through senior adults who attend. There are three activity tables: sewing, painting, and drawing, as well as one special project I bring each week – such as this one. The goal of Street Corner STEAM is to offer socially-distant and spontaneous play to build skills and confidence with technology. Below you will see pictures from Street Corner STEAM.

Materials for this project:

There are five main electronics parts for this project.
  1. micro:bit – Go pack – $18.00 (set of 10 – $160.00)
  2. basic:bit – $4.99 – 1 per project
  3. NeoPixel Strip – $4.99 – 1 per project
  4. Infrared receiver sensor – $2.90 – 1 per project
  5. Infrared remote control – $4.95 – 1 per project
  6. Free software: MicroBlocks

Note: These materials are fully reusable.


A stuffed animal or toy

If you want to help a group to create their own toys, I like this kit: Woodland creatures felt animal kits – 12 sewable felt kits – $22.99, but you can also make your own toys basically for free from old socks

Connecting the electronics

Use the five screws that come with the basic bit to connect it to your micro:bit.
There are three pins available to you: Pin 0, Pin 1, and Pin 2.
The NeoPixels are plugged into Pin 0 and the infrared sensor is plugged into Pin 1.

When you attach the NeoPixel strip and infrared sensor, be sure to line the black wire up next to the letter /G/ which stands for ‘ground.’ If you plug the wires in backwards, your program won’t run properly. Make sure the slide switch on the basic:bit is set to ‘P0’, not to the speaker.

Get to know your materials

  1. Connect your micro:bit via USB to your computer.
  2. Open MicroBlocks and be sure you have a green circle in the top left corner.
  3. Add the NeoPixel library to MicroBlocks.
Connect your micro:bit via USB to your computer. Then, open MicroBlocks and be sure that you have a green circle in the top left corner.
Add the NeoPixel library to MicroBlocks.

At this point you can play with the NeoPixel library. Below is sample code I shared with the students in Street Corner STEAM. With these code snippets, they were able to create new scripts.

Starter scripts for students to get to know their materials.
Zoomed in picture of code from video above.
Get the free MicroBlocks NeoPixel activity card here:
Getting the NeoPixels to come on for the first time is always exciting 🙂

Infrared sensor and remote control

Infrared light is invisible to the human eye, but if you look at it through the lens of a video camera, including most cellphone cameras, you can see it. Below is a way to use the remote control with your NeoPixel strip.

If you look at the tip of your infrared remote through a video camera, including most cellphone cameras, you will see the light.
Pressing each button on the infrared remote control causes a series of flashes with a UNIQUE pattern of delays.
How can we use these unique signals in our code?
Zoomed in picture of code from video above.
Here is one way to find the unique signal for each button on the remote. Don’t forget to add the IR Remote library to your tool bar. See how here:
Zoomed in picture of code from video above.
Students used the code in the picture above to check the value of each button press on the remote control.
Students recorded the value of each button press on the remote like this.
Bring it all together and use your IR remote to control your NeoPixel necklace
Zoomed in picture of code from video above.
Mocha is seeing her new necklace for the first time. She likes it 🙂
A happy hedgehog

NeoPixel and IR activity cards for your students

These potatoes can do what my computer does

What you get in this post: Seven activity ideas for exploring coding and electronics, including printables, slides, a materials list, and sample code. The first activity is ideal for students as young as 8.

I used to think coding was overwhelming – that for every one thing I learned, there were a million more that I would never learn. Coding felt like a list of endless and unknowable details that I would drown under. But through activities like this potato battery experiment, I’ve learned that’s not true. Whether you code with a single block of code or 86 million lines of code, you’re doing the exact same thing: playing with electricity.

One russet potato cut into four parts and used to power an LED. Click on the activity sheet below for a materials list and printable diagram to try this experiment with your students. [Photo: John Maloney]

Connecting a potato battery to an LED allows current to flow, making the LED light up. My computer works the same way: tiny transistor switches control the flow of current in millions of tiny wires. Although my computer has a lot more wires and switches, at the lowest level it is just turning things “on” and “off” with electricity, just like my potato battery.

After I realized that, coding and electronics were no longer overwhelming and I started to play. Anyone creating technology – making us laugh with animated films, healing us with medicine, keeping us safe while we travel – is taking up tools to do one thing: creatively move electrons.

I hope the activities below will help you to think of electricity as a raw material that you and your students can play with.

Getting started playing with electricity

In this hands-on activity, students will create a potato-powered night light by connecting several potato “battery cells” in series to light an LED. In an optional extension, students can experiment with different colored LEDs to discover how many potato cells are needed to light each color. Finally, they apply what they have learned by designing (on paper) their own night lights. This potato-battery night-light project was created by John Maloney and myself.

A simple diagram to illustrate the photo above

Ellie needs help from her sister

Sara and her little sister Ellie are home alone when a big storm makes the power go out. It’s getting dark, and Ellie is afraid. Sara knows that even a small light would comfort Ellie but, unfortunately, their flashlight doesn’t work. However, Sara recently learned how to make a battery in science class and, even better, she still has some LEDs from that class in her backpack! In science class, they made lemon batteries, but Sara remembers that her teacher said that potatoes might also work. After a quick search, she’s found everything she needs. Can she put the pieces together to light up the LED and keep Ellie from being afraid?

Lesson plan ideas, including materials list

Resources for your students (Make a copy of these slides)

What comes after potato batteries?

A picture like the one below is a good example of something that used to intimidate me (and sometimes still does). However, instead of feeling like I am about to drown, now I just think of the potatoes in the experiment above.

Materials: micro:bit, sensor:bit edge connector, breadboard, and 7-segment display.

Look closely at the 7-segment display plugged into the breadboard above (only three of the seven segments are lit up). Each segment is like a single LED from Sara and Ellie’s nightlight project above. One wire is connected to one LED segment on the display. The picture above is like setting up seven potato battery experiments, one potato battery experiment for each LED segment on the display.

However, in the potato battery experiment, I had to clip and unclip the wires to make the LED turn on and off. In this set up, I can write code to turn the LED segments on and off. The 7-segment display stays wired up, and my code turns the lights on and off.

Each section of a 7-segment display is named with a letter. By turning some sections on and others off, you can display numbers 0-9. [Image from:]
Using MicroBlocks to program my seven segment display

Bridging potatoes and 7-segment displays

Going from potato-powered LEDS to programming 7- segment displays isn’t as big of a leap as you might think.

You can start by plugging your potato-battery into the computer using a micro:bit and measuring the voltage of your potatoes using MicroBlocks.

A reading of 267 equals about .75 volts. If one potato cell equals about .75 volts, approximately how many volts do you think all four potato cells make?

Step 1: Connect the potato cells in series (as described in the activity sheet above).

Step 2: Connect an alligator clip to pin 1 of your micro:bit (I did this with a yellow wire in the picture above). Then, connect a second alligator clip to the GND pin on your micro:bit (I did this with the green wire in the picture above).

Step 3: Open MicroBlocks and create a script that reads the analog value of pin 1. Above I am using the “say” block to show the number on the screen. 1.5 volts will read as about 500.

Step 4: Measure the voltage of one potato cell. Clip the yellow wire to a penny and the green wire to a nail. Write down the number you see (For me, it’s 267 in the picture above). Then, move the green wire to the nail of the next potato (keeping the yellow wire on the penny of the first potato). What number do you see now? Do this two more times, moving the green wire to the next nail each time.

Step 5: How many volts does your four-cell potato battery generate?

Another way to play with electricity

Here is another way to use MicroBlocks and your micro:bit to play with electricity as a raw material.

This activity card and more like it can be found here:
The activity card above is the same activity as using a voltmeter to measure voltage.

From potato-powered to micro:bit-powered

The LED above is drawing electricity from the micro:bit (not potatoes).

Instead of clipping and unclipping the LED to turn it on and off (as I had to do with the potatoes), I can code the A button on the micro:bit to turn the LED on and the B button to turn it off. In other words, pressing A switches electricity to flow and pressing B stops electricity from flowing.

These scripts were written using MicroBlocks.

Draw and play with electricity

While exploring electricity as a raw material, I like to sketch and write what I am learning.

Programming a relay to control an LED.
Sketching and building a circuit allowing either of two switches to turn an LED on or off.
On the left I am making a truth table to illustrate the circuit’s activity. If you’ve ever turned lights on at the top of a staircase, walked to the bottom of the stairs, and turned the lights off as you go out, you’ve used a circuit like this.

Tiny electronics

With the power of coding, you can create anything! Below is an example of electronic jewelry that communicates secret messages by fast-flashes of light. 1 flash = A, 2 flashes = B, and so on.

Geo (left) is wearing an LED powered by a micro:bit and D (right) is wearing a light sensor powered by a micro:bit.
D’s name is short for Decipher. She deciphers the secret message flashing on the LED with her light sensor.
Geo’s name is short for Geologist (she loves collecting rocks and minerals). She is sending a secret message to D with flashes of light on her LED bracelet.
This is the code powering Geo’s LED bracelet. Remember: We are only playing with electricity. Letter A needs to flash once, Letter B needs to flash twice, etc. So when I type a message to send, the code on the right looks at each letter and decides how many times to flash.

Here is a link to download the sending code and the receiving code:

Want more programming fun?

Try coding your own flashlight tag game to play with friends – it’s like laser tag, but with flashlights! Use the activity cards below to help you. Find more activities here:

[Photo from:]

Thank you for stopping by!

I can’t wait to see what you make.


For Girls Tinker Academy, Sonoma State

Create a loveable robot pet with the micro:bit. How does your pet show love? How does your pet receive love? 




Buttons A and B

Tilt Sensor (accelerometer)



Light Sensor

Radio Communication (kind of an action too)


Write code for your loveable pet


25 leds



Activity  1 – Program LEDs

Try this code to give your animal a beating heart animation with the micro:bit



Activity 2 – Program buttons to control LEDs

Try this activity to use the buttons with your micro:bit



Activity 3 – Learn to use other features of your micro:bit


  1. Go here: Make it: Code it projects
  2. Select the feature you want to use in the search filter on the left



Craft a loveable pet from a sock

One way to make a sock bunny:

One way to make a sock bear:

Pay attention to the location of the “heel” of your sock. There is extra fabric there to stuff and shape.

This bear uses 1 sock, 4 rubber bands, and I hot glued the top down.

I created the owl by accident. Here is the process of making the owl. 


I stuffed the sock with stuffing, and twisted a rubber band around the sock. Then, I added more stuffing, folded the top of the sock down and hot glued the top of the sock in place. You could sew the top of the sock in place if you don’t have hot glue.

I drew a wing-shape that I liked onto paper, then cut it out of felt. I cut a total of four wing shapes because it took two wing shapes to make one wing.

I sewed the wings together (two wing-shapes per wing) and stuffed them with stuffing. Then, I hot-glued them to the owl (but you could sew them on as well).

What kind of loveable pet will you create? 

Help Pete Find His Beat


  • Use physical objects to control digital animations and sound
  • Use math (you won’t realize you did)
  • Use music (you’ll probably realize you did)

What you get

  • Three ways to help Pete find his beat using micro:bit, MaKey MaKey, and Scratch
  • Loads of supplemental teaching resources for music, coding and Scratch 3.0

A sock-bunny, a micro:bit clipped to a glove, and a MaKey MaKey. These are all the first drafts of my attempts.

Most people don’t know this, but there is a reason Peter Cottontail always came hip-hoppin’ down the bunny trail. 

He was a famous DJ, and he loved to make music. Though the secret to his music lived in his tail.

One day a terrible DJ accident happened and Peter lost his cottontail.

Now he is just known as “Pete who lost his beat.”

Can you help Pete find his beat? 

Part 1  – Make Pete, micro:bit glove, and MaKey MaKey dance pad 


Pete: 1 sock, fist-full of stuffing, two rubber bands, and scissors

micro:bit glove: glove, binder clip, micro:bit with battery pack

MaKey MaKey dance pad: 1 file folder, aluminum foil (about the size of half a sheet of computer paper), glue, scissors, MaKey MaKey

First, make Pete.

Pete is a sock bunny.

Pete is just a sock bunny. Follow this tutorial to make your own. If you don’t like this tutorial, search “No sew sock bunny” to find many versions. You can also search “No sew sock animal” to finds lots of other creatures to make with a sock.

Materials: 1 sock, fist-full of stuffing, two rubber bands, and scissors.

Glue a piece of foil onto the bottom of Pete. This will help him to dance on the MaKey MaKey dance pad.

Glue foil onto the bottom of Pete. This is how Pete will complete the circuit on the MaKey MaKey dance pad.

Second, make your micro:bit glove.

Materials: glove, binder clip, micro:bit with battery pack

Clip the micro:bit to a glove with a binder clip. Connect the battery pack and slide it into the glove.


A deleted scene from Stranger Things when the micro:bit starts to flash lights and communicate a message from another world. Just kidding.

Get your micro:bit glove ready to control Scratch

Go to this website:

1.) Install “Scratch Link”

2) Install “Scratch micro:bit Hex


Third, Make MaKey MaKey Dance Pad 

Materials: 1 file folder, aluminum foil (about the size of half a sheet of computer paper), glue, scissors

It would be fun to redesign this as a bunny trail for Pete to come hip-hoppin’ down. Or the surface of Mars. It’s really up to you

Pete will dance to the left in Scratch when he is in this position.

I gave Pete three moves  on my dance pad, though in the picture above, only move 2 is connected.

  1. When Space Key Pressed
  2. When Left Arrow Pressed
  3. When Right Arrow Pressed

See all three moves on the MaKey MaKey dance pad in action here (video starts immediately with dance moves).

Now you should have a sock animal, micro:bit glove, and MaKey MaKey dance pad.

Part 2 – Coding in Scratch

Open Scratch and add the micro:bit and MaKey MaKey extensions.


Choose a stage and sprite that you like. I took a picture of Pete and uploaded him into Scratch to use as my sprite. 

I used this video to help me to remove Pete’s background in Scratch.

Now, help Pete find his beat. Try this code. How else can you help Pete? 

See this code in action with the micro:bit and MaKey MaKey (video starts immediately at code in action).

Have fun! I can’t wait to see how you help Pete to find his beat.  <3 KatieDays


Want more with music, coding, and Scratch 3.0 ? Thank you to Jared O’Leary from BootUpPD for sharing these resources with me.

Jumping Game with Music-

Jumping Game with Sound Effects-

Toggle Music with a Button-

Create  Music Player-

Make Music with Ten Block Challenge-

More resources from Jared himself-        

Beatbox Machine-

This blog post was created from the ideas shared by Colleen Graves and Katie Henry in the two webinars below. 

Let’s Invent! Celebrate Scratch Month with MaKey MaKey and micro:bit!

Let’s Invent! Celebrate Scratch Month Episode Two with MaKey MaKey and micro:bit!

micro:bit maracas with microBlocks

micro:bit maracas with microBlocks

What you get below:

  • materials list

  • sample code

  • extension idea


Materials list

  1. microBlocks (free download)

  2. micro:bit  $17.50

  3. mi:sound board from Kitronik $6.50


Using microBlocks to program maracas


Attaching the speaker with alligator/crocodile clips

I used the mi:sound board from Kitronik


Extension idea: Attach your micro:bits to gloves using rubber bands or Velcro. Then, wave your hands around to make music.


Get started with micro:bit + Scratch

Get started with micro:bit + Scratch

What you get below:

  • 4 simple activity cards with quick demo videos

1) Move 


Activity card created by Scratch Team at MIT


2) Tilt 

Activity card created by Scratch Team at MIT


3) Shake

Activity card created by Scratch Team at MIT


4) Jump

Activity card created by Scratch Team at MIT


Face-tracking Flappy Bird Game in Scratch

What you get below:

1. Copy the Code – tells you how to copy the game you see here

2. Hack the Code – gives you ways for students to modify the existing code

3. Teach Students – A suggested instructional sequence for helping students to build their own games from the ground up.


1) Use this link to open Scratch:

2) Click on the “Add extension” icon (bottom left corner)

3) Scroll down and select “Facemesh2Scratch” extension.  Note: It will take a while to open. Your computer will look like it’s locked up, but it isn’t.

4) Download this Scratch code:   (Open the link. Then, right-mouse click on the file and select “download”

5) In Scratch, select: File –>  open, and open the code you downloaded in step 4.  (Be sure to open that code AFTER you do steps 1-3. The Facemesh2Scratch extension has to be open first.)

6) Click the green flag and start playing the game.

Julia Dweck (@giftedtawk on Twitter) does push-ups to play a Flappy Bird game created in Scratch.


Q: How can I speed up the scroll?

A: Increase the speed of the “glide.”

Q: How can teachers suggest students modify the code?


  1. Increase speed of the game
  2. Change the Flappy Bird sprite to your favorite character
  3. Reduce distance between the pipes


  1. Play a sound when the Flappy Bird touches a pipe
  2. Create a score board. Add a point when Flappy Bird makes it through a pipe. Lose a point if Flappy Bird touches a pipe.

Design thinking: 

  1. Create a fun game for others who are in quarantine and not moving as much. How can you help more people move in a fun way? Not everyone can do push-ups. What other kinds of movement can you inspire with your game?


Q: What is the easiest way to share code with students?

A: Students need the Facemesh2Scratch extension loaded in Scratch before they open the code linked in the above section “Copy the Code”. Follow steps for “Copy the Code” above to share with students.

Otherwise, consider creating your own instructional sequence. 

STEP ONE  – Students open Facemesh2Scratch  extension in Scratch.


1) Use this link to open Scratch:

2) Click on the “Add extension” icon (bottom left corner)

3) Scroll down and select “Facemesh2Scratch” extension.  Note: It will take a while to open. Your computer will look like it’s locked up, but it isn’t.

4) Practice using this code to see what happens.

STEP TWO – Learn to create scrolling sprites.

Does anyone in your class know how to do this? Let them teach others. Students can also use tutorials, such as the one below.


STEP THREE – Students identify problems to solve

What problems do your students still need to solve in making their game?

Form interest-based groups around remaining problems using a platform like Flipgrid. Allow students who are trying to solve similar problems to work together. Get the students name their own problems and find people who share similar problems.   Don’t go too fast at this step.  There is a lot of learning in being able to name the problem you are trying to solve. Answer their questions with questions.

Encourage them to:

  1. Name the problem
  2. Identify resources they already know about that could help
  3. Identify resources they wish they had
  4. Ask them how they can obtain the resources that they wish they had.
  5. There will likely be many problems. Ask them to focus on the hardest problem first. 

Places to find resources they will possibly need:

Youtube Scratch tutorials

Scratch community help pages

Identify an expert in the field to reach out to


Have fun.





Rabbit Draft

Ever since I saw the Little Bot project from Matt Chilbert at BirdBrain Technologies, I’ve day dreamed about using his ideas to make a plushy rabbit toy.

Little Bot – BirdBrain Technologies

But, have you ever tried to mount a motor into toy stuffing? Making a squishy toy that has motors inside isn’t easy. Below is the story of how I tried – and am still trying. I didn’t have directions to follow. I just knew that I wanted a plushy bunny that would “look around” like a real rabbit.

For each idea in this process, I tried lots of other ideas before I moved on to the next idea. Also, sometimes I got on an airplane in between ideas because I travel a lot for work. (Those photos are below, also.)

My goal is to create a simple robot plushy that mimics life-like behavior.  If you have shareable resources on this topic, please email them to me I’d love to see them (and share them in the next blog post.)

Rabbit Draft


This 14 second video has music.

Key Ideas I’ll Try Next Time

  1. Insert electronics from the tail of the bunny, not the head.
  2. Try attaching the head separately and last. This might make for a more emotionally appealing face because you can get the details right before attaching it.
  3. Use fabric that doesn’t shred easily. Felt or wool might be a better option than what you see in my photos. (I used micro felt because it was extra soft. I thought it would move nicely with the micro servos, but it ended up just fraying easily at the edges.)
  4. Try micro servos with plastic gears instead of metal gears to save a few dollars.

Materials You’ll See Below

2 micro servos (plastic gears)

2 micro servos (metal gears)




Felt, embroidery floss, needle (any will do)

Eva Foam 10mm thick (You can get Eva Foam at JoAnn fabrics)

Eva Foam 2 mm thick

Stuffed Rabbit Directions

Rabbit Template

(Choose from lots of interesting and free patterns here) 

Cutting knife/cutting mat

Sharpie marker

Here we go

First, I started with a simple cardboard version.  (Hey, it looked like a rabbit to me.) I programmed it in MicroBlocks.

Well, that was easy enough. I put a picture of the MicroBlocks bunny Rosa on the front and called it a day. That was all I had time for before I went to FETC in Miami, Florida for work.

This is a picture of Rosa, the MicroBlocks logo.


I love the Banyon trees in Florida. This one grows outside of the Miami Convention Center.

Once I returned from FETC, I had to go to the BETT show in London right away. So, my bunny project waited a few more days.

I met up with Lindsay and Eric from Strawbees at the Bett show. Have you see the new micro:bit powered Strawbees kit? It’s incredible.


Once I got back from BETT, I had a new idea to try. I chopped up a memory foam pillow, and made a servo shelf with 2 pieces of 10 mm Eva Foam. The Eva Foam securely held my servos, but the servos weren’t strong enough to move the 2mm black foam (AKA: future bunny face) the way I liked. So, I ordered micro servos with metal gears, thinking they’d be stronger. (This may not have been necessary because the most recent design I’ve used is fairly small and light weight.)

Also, memory foam is difficult to cut without special tools. Of the tools I had available, a bread knife was the best solution.


Memory foam cut into a rough bunny shape. Plastic micro servos mounted into a shelf of Eva Foam.


Folded foam sheet simulating future bunny face


After I tried that idea, I had to pack my suitcases again to go to TCEA in Austin, Texas. TCEA was a strangely green trip.


The world is my classroom. At TCEA my classroom number was 437.


My Uber driver came in this lime green Dodge Charger.


I ordered this breakfast smoothie. After I realized how green it was, I couldn’t NOT take this picture. (Trust me, you would have done it, too.)

Okay, Now We’re Getting Somewhere

Once I got home from TCEA, I spent a lot of time preparing for the class John Maloney and I were teaching at Infosys Winter Pathfinders. We had video meetings most mornings.

John is a great teacher. Here we are playing with MicroBlocks using a micro:bit and a servo.


After one of our morning meetings, I started working on the code for my future rabbit. I knew I wanted to use the radio feature of the micro:bit to wirelessly send messages from one micro:bit to another micro:bit, in order to control the servos. Below is the program I wrote.

The top code is the “receiver script.” In this photo the x-axis tilt will control one servo while the y-axis tilt will control the other servo. That means when I tilt the the “sender” micro:bit forward and backward, the rabbit will look down and up. When I tilt the “sender” micro:bit right and left, the rabbit will look right and left.

During the class we taught, I managed to find a few minutes to try making another type of bunny head.

This bunny head was mounted on two servos and moving in interesting ways. I took the servos apart though to give one to a student. I don’t have a video to show you.

Once I got back from Infosys Winter Pathfinders with John, I was ready to dive into my project because I had 8 full days before traveling again.


First, I decided that I had a good concept for stabilizing the servos with Eva Foam from the memory foam rabbit.

This is a soft and durable way to stabilize the servo motors, so I decided to keep it. 

Next, I decided it was time to get a real pattern. I knew I wanted a plushy rabbit, so I searched free rabbit patterns.  I chose the pattern below because I thought the servos would fit well in the neck. (I noticed that the distance between the base of the rabbit and it’s neck was similar to the height of my servos stacked on top of each other.) So, I traced the pattern and cut out the shapes from my fabric.

Template here:


My printer isn’t working. So, I laid a piece of copy paper on my computer screen and traced the shapes with a pencil.


After cutting out the paper shapes, I used the same pencil to trace the shapes onto my fabric. You don’t need anything fancy to trace onto fabric. Unless your fabric is fancy.


I made a mirror image of the rabbit because I wanted the “same side” of the rabbit to face outward. One side of this fabric is a bit fuzzier than the other.


This is a fairly simple pattern, but I’d like to see if I can make an even simpler one for the next project.


Even though the directions showed me how to stitch these pieces together, I still had to figure out how I was going to insert my motors. I also needed to figure out how I would attach the motors to the rabbit itself.

I used a blanket stitch to connect my pieces. Read how to assemble a non-robot rabbit here:


It could be a dinosaur, or a turtle, or a green jello mold.


Next time I will NOT insert the motor in the front (as I tried here). Next time I will stitch up the front of the rabbit and leave the back open. There are several seams on the front of the rabbit, and trying to stitch them together while holding the motors in place was very tricky. This trickiness combined with the fraying fabric makes the front of my first-draft rabbit pretty raggedy.

The square shelf holding the servo motors was too wide, so I cut it in half.

This is kind of lumpy, but I needed a prototype to see if the height of the motor would move the rabbit’s head and neck.

Here’s what happened. (The black thing sticking out of the side when the head turns is a piece of 2mm foam. You’ll see more about that piece below.)


Fourth/ Some Things I Did Next

I stitched up the rest of the rabbit and left the front open for the motors. (As I’ve said, this was a terrible idea. Next time leave the back open for the motors. Also, try fabric that doesn’t fray, like felt or wool.)

I used the 2mm Eva Foam to create a soft form to go inside the rabbit. As you can see this is too big. To create a form that fits inside of the rabbit, I reduced my original rabbit template from 200% to 150% and made the form you see below.


I mirrored the front-half of the rabbit body pattern and put the “head top” in the middle. (These are pieces from this template


I slid the form into the rabbit body and saw that it was still too big, so I trimmed it down.

I had to trim this black form down.

This is the final form. Since I was adding material into the body of the rabbit, I needed to reduce the height of my servo base, too.

20 mm high works perfectly for the rabbit neck and head, and the base is still strong enough to keep the motors in place. I chose to keep it long so that it reached into the belly of the rabbit and didn’t somehow flip itself over.


See how well it works?

So this is what went inside of the rabbit’s body.

Yes, it’s a bit floppy outside of the rabbit, but once it goes inside, it seems to work okay. There is definitely room for improvement in this form. 

Stitching the rabbit together at this point was difficult. Next time, insert electronics in the back.

A bit raggedy, but still pretty cute

A rabbit with attitude

Programming My Rabbit

Once I sealed my servo motors inside of the rabbit, I didn’t know how exactly they would move. Using MicroBlocks was a good choice for me because I could quickly make changes to my program. I needed to find out how far my rabbit’s head could move without looking crazy, or worse, falling apart.  By using MicroBlocks, I could test in real-time (no waiting for something to download) the range of my servos inside of the rabbit.

Pressing A on the micro:bit causes the rabbit to rest. Pressing B on the micro:bit creates a random rabbit movement. My next step is to make these radio controlled features so that I can remove the wires (as you saw in my example code above.)

Note: I do not have a micro:bit connected to MicroBlocks in this photo. That’s why there isn’t a green circle behind the USB cord icon.

Rabbit Draft

This 14 second video has sound. 

Need More Resources

If you have shareable resources on the topic of simple squishy robots, would you please email them to me, I’d like to learn from them and include them in my next blog post.


Colour Tower

We have to make safe places for students to take creative risks, and trust students in those places.”

Colour Tower

I remember taking a risk in 6th grade art, though at the time, I didn’t know I was.  Using British English to title my drawing “Colour Tower” made perfect sense to me. I was reading the Chronicles of Narnia at the time, and thought it was cool how the words were spelled differently than I was used to. The word “colour” felt exotic to me – like much more vibrant colors emerged when you spelled it that way.

As soon as my “Colour Tower” was hanging in the hallway at school, the disgusted-sounding taunts began. “Doesn’t Katie know how to spell? That’s stupid.”

I never had a chance to explain myself, and I didn’t want to.  I felt embarrassed and ashamed.   I stopped spelling the word color with the letter U, and my world became a little less bright. For girls, creative risk-taking in middle school can be wildly terrifying.  But, some girls don’t just stop using the letter U to spell new words in middle school – worse things happen. They can stop leaning into their academic talents and using the power of their minds coupled with the power of their hearts.  Their true passions can become secretive and hidden. They sometimes stay locked for years, or never get unlocked at all.  That’s painful.

I think I was one of these middle school girls, too.  How was I ever going to lean into my own talents, when I was obsessed with matching what I saw everyone else doing?  It was easier to conform than to try something new and risk feeling embarrassed. ((Having said that, I did want to be a spy in 7th grade. For a while I carried around a bag with a 110 film camera, mirrors for looking around corners, and a notebook. Mostly I did this with my best friend in her forest, but once I brought the bag to school. Although no one knew I was a spy. Because, well, that was the point.))

How can we help more middle school girls feel confident to take creative risks?

We have to make it less unusual for a middle school girl to do something different from her peers, and that starts with us doing something different for our students. We have to make safe places for students to take creative risks, and trust students in those places.

While I don’t believe tools themselves solve the problems we are talking about, trusting students to take creative risks with tools they may never before have used can have a profound impact on their life.

You don’t always need tools to help inspire confidence, but there are some good ones that can help. They are beginner-friendly and cost as little as $15 per kit, but the possibilities are endless. They rely on students’ minds and hearts to bring them to life.

Learn more: A Low Cost Robotics Kit – Great for Girls

A teacher works on a robot dancer with cardboard, the micro:bit, and MicroBlocks