(In)visible Self

(In)visible Self

Have experiences about, insights into, or questions about this activity to share with us or others? Head over to the PLIX Forum Invisible Self space!


Welcome to PLIX (In)visible Self! What technologies and techniques can we use to build our inward-looking senses and enhance everyday skills for personal growth? This activity centers around building and speculating tools for revealing invisible parts of ourselves: our breath, our heartbeat, and other body rhythms. Here, โ€œtoolsโ€ means anything from simple electronics sensors to programmed circuits to mechanically activated paper constructions!

Activity at a Glance

This activity can operate as either a structured workshop or a drop-in activity.

  • Age Range: 8 - 16
  • Group Size: 8 - 12
  • Number of Facilitators: 1 - 2
  • Activity Length: 90 mins
  • Cost: depending on prompt, up to $10 per patron
Share the love: Tell us how you use this activity guide on the PLIX Forum or via our PLIX Remix report form. Remember, our guide is just a jumping off point โ€” feel free change or create new design elements to suit your local community!

Supply Kit

PLIX zines โ€” folded & cut (In)visible Self printouts (one sheet per participant)
Construction paper/cardstock
Markers, pens, and pencils (in various colors)
Aluminum foil
Ping pong balls
Construction paper
Twine or yarn
Optional: Microcontroller (for example, a BBC micro:bit, Arduino, or FLORA)
Optional: Electronics components (including breadboard; alligator clips; resistors; and pinwires)
Optional: Pulse sensor
Optional: Conductive thread or fabric


Download here โ†’


Remixable zine โ†’

A note about zines: Our PLIX zines are designed to be supplementary resources for patrons and librarians to refer to during workshops. They're a quick and easy way for people to learn some fundamentals. You can print them on 8.5x11" paper, and they're easy to assemble. Hereโ€™s a resource that shows you step-by-step how to cut and fold them after printing!


Workshop Prompts

The (In)visible Self activity supplies can be used with a wide variety of workshop prompts, each connecting to the idea of honing in on the mind-body connection, and making it visible or altering it in some way. Below you'll find a few that we love ๐Ÿ’•โ€” and we encourage you to come up with your own!

Heart on Your Sleeve โ€” Create a low-tech wearable that tracks, expresses, or communicates an aspect of your emotional or physiological state.
See the Unseen โ€” Use low-cost or found/recycled materials to visualize the mind-body connection. Think about how you can make the invisible aspects of yourself or your body (like your mood, emotion, appetite) more obvious. The output could be a drawing, sound/song, etc.
Mood-fluencer โ€” Create a physical object that allows you to manipulate, change, or soothe your internal state.
Cyborg Dreams โ€” Imagine, then prototype, a tool, sensor, or device that could track something about our bodies that we donโ€™t currently have tools to measure.
REMIX: Body Electric โ€” Capture electrodermal activity (EDA) or other data with a micro:bit, Arduino, FLORA, or other microcontroller, and use the data to make art, control a game, or โ€œcontrolโ€ your mood.

Example Gallery

Heart on Your Sleeve:
Heart on Your Sleeve: A simple paper wearable that helps its user connect their mood to their daily water intake!
Mood-fluencer: Texture Zooโ€”a desktop collection of different textures, made from recycled objects, that can help change the change of its user depending on which texture they touch.
Body Electric:
Body Electric: A circuit that tracks nerves/nervousness via tapping (using a Makey Makey coded with Scratch). When tapped enough times, the device tells its user to take a mental break from work (image: Allie Affinito, NYPL)!
See the Unseen:
See the Unseen: Song of Myselfโ€”a mason jar filled with bells that make sound when the user is jittery or nervous, creating an auditory way to express the mind-body connection.
Cyborg dreams:
Cyborg dreams: Aura Brain Map Speculationโ€”a brainstorm collage of a future, color-based MRI machine for detecting emotion and mood (image: Paige Normandin).

Making Example Projects

When preparing to facilitate a creative learning activity, we always recommend populating your space with diverse example projects. A good example project is thoughtfully designed to inspire your patrons, spark their curiosity, and be easy enough to understand to support them in getting started with the activity.

Check out the guide below for step-by-step instructions for making examples for your In:visible Self workshop. โ†’

How-to: Make Examples for In:visible Self ๐Ÿ“

Learn more about the art of the example in our PLIX Guide to Making Activity Examples.

Facilitation Tips

By design, this activity invites learners of all backgrounds to play with form and function. It is a very new set of tools and materials for most people, so make sure that there is enough material to accommodate participants as they get used to the new craft. When facilitating this activity, we encourage you to support a tinkering mindset.

Be sure to also check out our PLIX Facilitation Techniques Guide for additional techniques from the PLIX team to help you cultivate your own creative learning facilitation practice.

About PLIX (In)visible Self

This activity was developed in collaboration with Media Lab graduate student Caitlin Morris, whose work focuses on developing new ways to understand how we can control our physical and emotional states.

Other ways to engage with the PLIX Inflatables program:

  • Looking for some background music? Check out our PLIX (In)visible Self Playlist ๐ŸŽถ
  • Questions? Ask them on the PLIX Discussion Forum ๐Ÿ™‹โ€โ™€๏ธ
  • Share your experience running this workshop on social media using #PLIXInvisibleSelf ๐Ÿ˜Ž

The Public Library Innovation Exchange (PLIX) is a project of the MIT Media Lab Digital Learning & Collaboration Studio. Except where otherwise noted, all materials on this site are licensed under a CC BY-SA 4.0 license. Accessibility.