Weekend Challenge: Spread Joy

Many people would loathe the idea of spending an entire weekend at school. But, not those who attend BDW.

The Musical Instrument Shield and Arduino all wired and ready to go!

This past weekend, my fellow BDW classmates and I had the pleasure of partaking in a 42 hour design sprint with a wonderful alumni and faculty member, Chris Znerold. On Friday evening, Chris challenged all of us to create something that would spread joy to the world. My inspiration came from my passion for the concept of playable cities. I wanted to create something that could be placed somewhere in the physical environment, such as on an urban street. I wanted to create something that would encourage people walking by to interact with and play with it. And, I wanted to create something that would make people connect over a smile or laughter.

After hours of brainstorming, I landed on making a musical bench. Each armrest of the bench would have a piece of copper attached to a central arduino. And, when two people sit on the bench and touch they complete the circuit and cause music to play. I was intrigued to construct the bench and put it in different urban areas to see how people would interact and play with it!

I spent my Saturday morning running all around Denver to gather the necessary parts — arduinos, musical shields, solid core and stranded wires, resistors, capacitors, speakers and more. And then, I hesitantly began the project. The projects success relied on my ability to solder the many wires and pins correctly into place on the musical shield. One wrong solder would ruin the connection and therefore make my project fail. And, because I had only soldered once before, I was doubting my skills (and the projects success).

After carefully soldering 28 pins, I was ready to start the wiring!

However, after two hours of careful soldering (with safety glasses and headlamp to see what I was doing) I was ready to test. My entire success of the weekends project came down to this. I carefully placed the shield on the arduino. And, to my surprise, all the pins aligned. Now, onto testing the connections. I plugged the arduino into my computer, uploaded the code, plugged in a speaker, and grabbed each copper piece. And, it worked! Music chimed through my apartment echoing the joy I felt inside.

Version 1.0 is complete.

Now I must build my bench. Over the next week, I plan to construct a bench out of 50+ pieces of various types of restored wood — inspired by keys on a piano. I plan to build armrests out of copper pipe so that people will naturally rest their arms on it. And, finally, I plan to bring it to various places around Boulder/Denver to see how people interact and play with it!

This is my weekends gift back to the world of joy. I challenge you to go and create something that helps to spread joy and laughter around your community!

I am currently a student in BDW’s 50 week program. Learn more about the BDW program.

Like what you read? Give Catie Czajkowski a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.