Fractal Light Boxes

For the past three years, I've worked with Beam Center and the Brooklyn International High School on project-based curriculum in ten week cycles. In the spring of 2014, we built DIY Drum Pads using Arduino, MIDI, and GarageBand. This was part of a larger interdisciplinary project based on music and outlined in the World of Science Blog. In 2015, we built a Digital Poetry Machine by laser cutting words and programming them into EEPROM chips that lived on the back.

For the 2015-2016 school year, I was asked to develop a curriculum that would be taught to the entire 9th, 10th, and 11th grade classes in 7 week cycles throughout the entire school year.

Based on how we built C.O.R.A.L., I decided to incorporate LED strips into a light box and turn them on using Arduino and motion sensors. I taught the students about fractal patterns, and allowed each group of 4-5 design their own LED fractal using 24 LEDs each.

I taught them the basics of electricity, voltage, and data and then the students spent three weeks soldering their individual fractal strips together. Then we cut 2' x 2' squares of plywood and arranged the strips so they could all be powered from a single Arduino.

We drilled a small hole in a square of frosted acrylic and mounted the PIR sensor, then as a class we wrote some code to power the lights. At the end of each class, we mounted the completed light box in the hallway at the school.

Last day of my class at BIHS

A video posted by Mark Kleeb (@kleebatron) on

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