Did you know that you can borrow tech kits through OLA, from the OLITA Lending Library? We lend awesome kits such as littleBits and Arduino, for you to try out in your library! You can learn more about it here.
I don’t do any makerspace programming at my place of work but I am the liaison for Computer Science at my library and so my focus on littleBits is less based on what activities I could see myself doing and more about how useful they might be as something to learn from.
That being said, as soon as I opened the STEAM Student Kit and started putting the pieces together, I could see how they could be great for small group activities. The littleBits snapped together effortlessly and in moments, I could hook up a battery to a light or a button or a buzzer and get immediate gratification.
“littleBits makes a platform of easy-to-use electronic building blocks empowering everyone to create inventions, large and small.
littleBits are “electronic building blocks” that are “color-coded, magnetic and reuseable.”
Ok. So what did I “invent”? Well, the first thing I made was a counter.
At this point, I was wishing there was a second set of each component so I could I maybe design something to keep score in a game or maybe design my own game (but at $300 USD for another set, it wouldn’t be likely for me to have two to play with).
While I was looking up alternative projects in the official littlebits app, my 8 year old daughter promptly created her own game:
I then tried to make an inch worm that someone else had designed. The inchworm is made up of a thin piece of cardboard, folded, with a little servo motor on one half of the worm that when powered by the batter would repeatedly tug a pulled-out paper clip taped to the other half. I sort of got mine working:
To be honest, I’m not entirely sure how littleBits would go over in a library makespace (Are there enough components to make the projects that come to mind? Are the battery-powered motors strong enough to match the grand ambitions of kids?) and I’m super-hopeful someone will take advantage of OLITA’s copies in the Lending Library to try out and report back to the rest of us.
For me, I have thoughts about using littleBits as a learning tool.
I think littleBits are great for getting people immediately into building and playing and making. I have been to a handful of workshops dedicated to learning electronics using breadboards and Arduinos and I know from these experiences that it usually takes time and a a multitude of steps before you can even get to the stage in which you can make a light blink. It’s like, every time you use an LED, you need to do a calculation to figure the right resister you need…
littleBits make it super easy to make a light blink. But do the kids using littleBits understand that they are building a ‘circuit of electricity’ when they are, in fact, sticking together chains of blocks? Probably not.
But are they making their own games and toys and devices that might feed their ambitions and lead them to tackling breadboards next? I think so. At least, a little bit.
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