Origami has long been one of my favorite activities to bring to Space154.  I first learned how to fold when I visited Japan as a teenager.  At the time I was in love with folding origami cranes.  Fast forward some years and I still love origami so when Dr. Shigero Osuka of the Japanese Studies program invited me to speak at the Origami is Fun event during the 2016 International Celebration I eagerly accepted.  I knew exactly what I wanted to share with the audience – LED Origami.

Origami is Fun

Origami is Fun event, view of the audience following Eri Kaneda’s instructions for folding a pikachu.

LED Origami combines the modern technique of LED lights and paper circuits with traditional origami.  I first learned of LED Origami at a conference where I immediately took the idea.  When demonstrating how to combine paper circuits with origami I like to use the Adafruit LED Origami instructions because it walks through in easy to follow steps how to fold a lotus flower and add an LED light with a simple circuit.

The impact and application of origami is far reaching.  It continues to amaze me how such a simple and relaxing activity is used in so many ways.  During the Origami is Fun event Dr. Osuka shared with the audience the ways that origami is being used by NASA for research in space.  The first example showed how using origami techniques NASA was able to develop a solar power panel that could be folded up small enough to be carried in a space shuttle but then expand to 82 feet in diameter when deployed in space.  The second example used origami folding techniques to develop a satellite that would be folded up during travel and then “bloom” out to its full size once in space.

In addition to origami’s application in sciences, my beloved origami crane holds special significance as Senbazuru, or 1000 Paper Cranes, as a symbol for peace and the effects of nuclear war.  The significance of Senbazuru in Japanese culture originates with a legend that has it if a person folds 1,000 cranes they are granted a wish or eternal good luck.  Senbazuru became a symbol for world peace when a young girl, Sadako Sakashi, was inspired to fold 1,000 paper cranes before succumbing to leukemia due to radiation exposure from the atomic bombings of Hiroshima.

Origami has now become a tradition in Space154 during the annual Day of Play event hosted by the Teaching, Learning and Technology Center.  This year’s Day of Play will take place at the end of the Fall semester on Reading Day, December 14th where we will continue our tradition of origami by folding 1000 paper cranes in support of world peace.

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