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This follows on from the Thursday workshop and later, follow-up feedback/question from teachers interested in implementing an integrated STEAM 'Visual Arts' project at school.

FIXME Links to curriculum (including 'Living World' and other outcomes/content) coming soon (last updated 12 June 2018)


“Isn't it enough to see that a garden is beautiful without having to believe that there are fairies at the bottom of it too?” ― Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

Here is an idea/thought-crime for a Visual Arts Event (Design Project) focused on promotion and community engagement with the school Secret Life of Plants & Animals project.


Teachers + kids collaborate on an authentic, cross-grades, Visual Arts, STEAM experience (design project), to help promote community engagement and involvement with the school garden and chooks.

This to be done by re-directing normal classroom learning activities rather than additional load for teachers or students. Volunteers will be sought from members of local community who are prepared to donate appropriate enthusiasm/expertise/resources.


A Visual Arts experience.

  • QUESTION: What is the secret, after dark, life of our plants and animals?
  • ANSWER: To get started, they first organise a disco of course…


Cardboard (or similar) cut-outs of chickens and plants that have been decorated by the kids are placed in a prominent location in the school grounds. The cutouts of the plants and animals are edge-lit using strings of low-voltage Christmas lights. The lights are activated/animated by using sequences that have been programmed by kids using a simple app. Additional elements such as mirror-ball(s), music may be added depending on ideas created by students/teachers.

The event would run each night after dark - probably for one week (science, education week or vivid). Best time would be June/July. This event could be accessed/live-streamed via Internet.

Kids make and decorate life-size or larger chickens, flowers and related representations of plants/animals. These should be simple cardboard cut-outs, wire-frame or similar construction. They need to be made minimally weather-proof.

  1. Do plants and animals sleep?
  2. What is life like for plants and animals after dark?
  3. Do plants and animals like music?
  4. Do plants and animals move/dance?
  5. Do plants and animals talk to each-other?
  6. Do plants and animals play?
  7. Do plants and animals work together?
  8. Can plants and animals learn from each-other?
  9. Do plants and animals look after us by keeping us healthy?
  10. How can we choose the right materials for our art-works?
  11. How can we control the lights for our art-works?
  12. Should we have sound as well as lights for our event?
  13. How can we let people know about our event, and what should we tell them about it?
  14. All of the things not included above

Proposal Year6 - Interactive Garden Archway

Video 1. Example of A Garden Sound & Light-show

Students design an inter-active pathway using touch switch technology. Students set up a table in the hall, where they explain the science and demonstrate how they designed, built and programmed their exhibit.


Most of the activities should be do-able within the context of normal classroom activities. This should not involve extra duties/administration for teachers. Costs for Christmas lights and control systems are minimal (using Christmas lights provides cheap, off-the-shelf lights/electronics which come pre-approved for safe outdoor use).

The visual aesthetic is determined mostly by how the representational plants and animals are arranged and by the associated lighting effects - the quality of workmanship for plants and animals need only be very agricultural/crude.

The use of SOUND is extremely important in creating an emotional audience experience.

Lots of other possibilities depending on the creativity/interest of teachers/students/community. The ideas to be student-directed as much as possible, with big people focusing on the practicalities.

It would be great to find funding/sponsorship for lights/materials.


With projector on ground/floor, the WIN10 display or the projector image may need to be flipped.

Optionally, enable 'Allow the screen to auto-rotate' option under 'Adjust screen resolution'. Then try pressing CTRL + ALT + Up Arrow. You can use other arrow keys with same CTRL + ALT key combination for rotating the screen.

Once you done with this, press Windows Logo key + X, and select Control Panel. Under 'Appearance and Personalization' select 'Adjust screen resolution'. Now see if 'Allow the screen to auto-rotate' option is enabled there. If not try to click the check box 'Allow the screen to auto-rotate' and then click 'Apply/OK'. Now check if everything works fine.


Light Chasers & Sequencers

A chase or chaser is an electrical application where strings of adjacent lights cycle on and off frequently to give the illusion of lights moving along the string. Several separate circuits of lights (called channels) are needed to create a chase effect which is a simulation of motion achieved by turning these circuits ON and OFF in sequence. The standard is 3 or 4 channels. For 4 channels the lights are wired with one common and 4 different feeds. Light #1 is wired with lights #5 & 9 & 13, etc. (+4); Light #2 is wired with lights #6 & 10 & 14, etc. (+4); Light #3 is wired with lights #7 & 11 & 15, etc. (+4); Light #4 is wired with lights #8 & 12 & 16, etc. (+4).


Sense-Hat - Definitive Guide

There are lots of opportunities for the use of coding and control of the interactive lights and effects. For those with minimal experience, the Raspberry Pi offers a quick and effective path to remote-control Nirvana. For example

Video. NeoPixel 5050 - IR Controller

Image: Trinket - An On-line Raspberry Pi Coding Emulator

Trinket is a browser-based, an all-in-one coding environment designed for education. Teachers and students use trinket to code during class.

Trinket Sense-Hat Emulator provides every student with a virtual Raspberry Pi, complete with sensors and programmable LED pixel display. Students access their own, personal Trinket Sense-Hat Emulator that allows them to write and test their code just like the real thing. Students may create a free account on the Trinket website to save their code/work to enable 24/7 access from anywhere. There's even a Sense HAT orbiting the earth in the International Space Station!

In case you cannot or do not want to use an Internet browser-based emulator, there is an optional free version to download and run on your computer desktop.

Code written in the emulator is directly portable to a physical Raspberry Pi and Sense HAT without modification. This means students can now develop and test programs using the movement sensors from any internet-connected computer, anywhere in the world.

Using Trinket - Some Examples

Trinket - Sense Hat EmulatorDesktop Sense-emu

  • To get started, open an Getting started example coding page, and open Trinket in a separate screen.
  • Then, copy the example code into Trinket and press the Trinket play button.

To scroll some text, copy this code into trinket:

from sense_hat import SenseHat
sense = SenseHat()
sense.show_message("Hello world")

To display message, temperature and humidity:

from sense_hat import SenseHat
sense = SenseHat()
temp = str(sense.get_temperature())
humi = sense.get_humidity()
sense.show_message("See temp + humidity in box below")
print("Temperature:" + str(temp))
print("Humidity:" + str(humi))

More advanced example…

from sense_hat import SenseHat
sense = SenseHat()
temp = str(sense.get_temperature())
humi = sense.get_humidity()

# Display a scrolled message on the screen...
sense.show_message("See temp + humidity in box below")

# Print the values in the box below the sense-hat image...
print("Temperature:" + str(temp))
print("Humidity:" + str(humi))

# Change pixel text & background colour...
blue = (0, 0, 255)
yellow =(255, 255, 0)
sense.show_message("See Temp + Humidity in box below", text_colour=yellow,back_colour=blue)

More Stuff For Nerds Only

The LightshowPi software automates the creation of a lightshow using the frequency spectrum of the song that is playing back. There are also many add ons - such as SMS control (e.g. change the volume via sms, or allow your neighbors to vote for the next song in the show), pre show lighting configuration, and many others in development.

Miscellaneous Nerdy Links

Raspberry Pi - Keyes sensors data sheets

 KY-001 Temperature sensor module
 KY-002 Vibration switch module
 KY-003 Hall magnetic sensor module
 KY-004 Key switch module
 KY-005 Infrared emission sensor module
 KY-006 Small passive buzzer module
 KY-008 Laser sensor module
 KY-009 3-color full-color LED SMD modules
 KY-010 Optical broken module
 KY-011 2-color LED module
 KY-012 Active buzzer module
 KY-013 Temperature sensor module
 KY-015 Temperature and humidity sensor module
 KY-016 3-color LED module
 KY-017 Mercury open optical module
 KY-018 Photo resistor module
 KY-019 5V relay module
 KY-020 Tilt switch module
 KY-021 Mini magnetic reed modules
 KY-022 Infrared sensor receiver module
 KY-023 XY-axis joystick module
 KY-024 Linear magnetic Hall sensors
 KY-025 Reed module
 KY-026 Flame sensor module
 KY-027 Magic light cup module
 KY-028 Temperature sensor module
 KY-029 Yin Yi 2-color LED module 3MM
 KY-031 Knock Sensor module
 KY-032 Obstacle avoidance sensor module
 KY-033 Hunt sensor module
 KY-034 Automatic flashing colorful LED module
 KY-035 Class Bihor magnetic sensor
 KY-036 Metal touch sensor module
 KY-037 Sensitive microphone sensor module
 KY-038 Microphone sound sensor module
 KY-039 Detect the heartbeat module
 KY-040 Rotary encoder module

LED Lights

Co2 MQ-7 & Other Raspberry Pi Gas Sensors

WS2812B 5V LED strip (Neopixel)

Audio Visualisers

Temporary - Not yet sorted

LED Lights

Co2 MQ-7 & Other Raspberry Pi Gas Sensors

WS2812B 5V LED strip (Neopixel)

2018/living-world/beachcombers/design-visual-art/home.txt · Last modified: 12/07/2019/ 16:31 (external edit)