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8 Wearables Science Projects

Explore cutting-edge electronics and engineering with wearable electronics science projects. From e-textiles and sewn circuits to personalize clothing and accessories to DIY wearables for health and safety, students can design, build, and test their own.

Wearable electronics science projects - pictured student hands sewing with conductive thread and an Arduino component to make a custom sewn circuit patch

Experiment with Wearable Electronics

Wearable electronics, also called "wearables," are circuits and electronic devices that are designed to be worn. Devices like smart watches and fitness trackers are a familiar form of wearable, but many wearables are e-textiles, soft circuits that are embedded or integrated directly into clothing or fabrics.

Combining traditional circuit building with conductive and insulating thread opens up all kinds of possibilities for designing and creating wearable electronics that light up, change colors, make noise, or monitor and respond to data from built-in sensors. These wearables can be made to personalize clothing and accessories or to meet a real-world need. Students can explore sewn circuits, e-textiles, and other wearable electronics with creative maker-inspired science and engineering projects and activities.

Students can get started with wearables by doing projects using conductive and insulating thread to add sewn circuits to existing fabrics, like a jacket or backpack. Creating simple e-textile circuits helps students learn about soft circuits, develop circuit-building skills, and explore questions related to design, durability, and battery life.

Students ready to design and build more sophisticated wearables can experiment with more complex circuits and can explore adding a microcontroller and using Arduino to program wearables with specific functionality. (See Getting started with Arduino? for more information and tutorial resources.)

DIY Wearables Science Projects

E-Textiles, Soft Circuits, and Wearable Electronics Science Projects

  1. LED Dance Glove: Get the Party Started with Your Own Interactive Light Show: explore wearable circuits and e-textiles by sewing a circuit and LEDs into ordinary gloves to make light-up gloves that can be used in light shows and dance performances or as part of a costume. This project is a good introduction to using conductive thread and creating soft circuits for e-textiles.
  2. LED Traffic Glove: Build a Safety Device to Direct Traffic: make a traffic control glove with a soft circuit that can show different colored lights based on where the glove is pressed. This project uses sets of different colored lights and does not require programming.
  3. Use Sewable Circuits to Make Cool Costumes and Accessories: design and make custom clothing with built-in electronics. This project guides students in using the engineering design process to decide what type of clothing, fashion accessory, or e-textile they want to make and what steps they need to take to make and test their wearable electronic device. From flashing or color-changing lights to sensors that respond to variables like temperature or motion, students can design their own wearable electronics—for fun or to serve a real-world purpose. For additional inspiration and tips, see Wearable Electronics: Sewing an LED Patch.
  4. Make a Heart Rate Monitor: design, build, and program a custom heart rate monitor that fits individual needs. A wearable design is one approach students might take in this engineering design project. Students will use the engineering design process to determine the best approach to making this device based on the intended use and design criteria.
  5. Design a Wearable Air Quality Index Monitor: this abbreviated project idea prompts students to design and build a wearable device to monitor air quality and let the wearer know when the air quality is dangerous. The Air Quality Index (AQI) measures a variety of pollutants, including particulate matter, ozone, carbon monoxide, and sulfur dioxide. Students will need to determine which pollutants they will measure, what sensors to use, and how to make the device so that it is convenient, durable, and functional as a personal, wearable monitoring device. The Wearable Air Quality Sensor activity helps students get started with an example of a wearable that includes a dust sensor to measure particulates. The sample activity uses a sewn circuit, Arduino programming, and a TinyLily mini processor board.
  6. Design Clothing with Built-In Sensors: this abbreviated project idea challenges students to design and make clothing with built-in sensors and electronics. These wearables might have features that light up or make noise. The Weaving a Wearable Touch Sensor activity guides students in exploring one approach by weaving a patch that responds to touch. Students use Arduino to program the patch's sensors to light an LED when specific areas of the woven fabric are touched.
  7. Sew a light-up unicorn horn: make a unicorn horn with a sewn circuit that features a programmable LED in the tip that changes colors. This wearables project uses Arduino programming and a TinyLily mini processor board.
  8. Design an LED Temporary Tattoo: design and make a light-up temporary tattoo, an example of a wearable electronic circuit that you build directly on your skin.

Get Started with Arduino

Many of the projects highlighted above use a microcontroller (like the LilyPad, FLORA, Adafruit GEMMA, or the TinyLily Mini Arduino) and Arduino to enable programming the wearable device. Students can learn more about using Arduino and programming their own circuits by following the series of videos in the How to Use an Arduino guide. (Educators! The Introduction to Arduino lesson plan is available for educators introducing students to Arduino.)

Other Projects to Explore Circuit Building

Students new to circuit building can also experiment with projects and activities highlighted in these resources:

Students ready for intermediate and advanced electronics and circuit building project, including projects related to robotics and self-driving cars, may enjoy projects highlighted in these resources:

(Note: Some projects in the linked resources are introductory.)

Additional Educator Resources

For additional educator resources to teach about circuits, see the following resource collections:

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