Little Bits are amazing bits of equipment that, depending on how they are used, are able to enhance areas of the curriculum, extend those who require additional challenges and support deep inquiry that mimics the way real professionals work.
The design process used when designing, making and evaluating projects using LittleBits is also able to support the mindset of a maker – someone who is resilient, creative and focussed on creating something that is purposeful. The development of this kind of a mindset, I think, is more important that the project being worked upon or the physical artefact that is created.
For a couple of afternoons this week, I’ve been exploring our Little Bits workshop set that arrived right before the holidays so I can plan some MakerSpace activities in the new year. Of course, it always helps to have the intended users to help me so Mr 6 and Ms 8 worked with me.
We had a couple of Gizmos and Gadgets sets along with the Workshop Set and with these came a project manual with a number of project ideas contained within. My kids being keen lego users – love having a plan to follow and this manual was a real highlight for them and so we dived into the first two projects – a spinner and a portable, personal fan.
The portable fan was first and the kids locked the circuit into plan using the mounting boards. Getting the battery to stick down was fiddly but eventually, their fan was completed.
In the beginning of this post, I mentioned how I value the mindset that is in play for this type of activity and it was interesting to see that one of my children got easily frustrated and impatient when things didn’t immediately work. More of this type of work needed, I thought! We had a discussion about how we are testing things, trialling things, making models of things that may or may not work and that it’s important for mistakes and failures to be just part of the process.
The next one was a spinner which required a wheel to be attached to a DC motor within the circuit. They both enjoyed this and the opportunity to get a bit creative with what they added to the sign. We talked about where else they could use this device – with the top of the latest Lego creation being mentioned.
Towards the end of this time together, Mr 6 stumbled upon the wireless transmitter and receiver and immediately become very motivated to find out what these did. We discovered that, once on the same channel, they could receive and transmit information. We attached a light sensor to the receiver and brainstormed possible uses. The two children tested the distance…..one walked away into different rooms of the house, activating the light sensor until we had an approximate range.
The fridge was mentioned as something which is dark until the door is opened……..and the idea of an alarm for when the fridge was opened came up. In it went….and much hilarity ensued.
The next idea was an alarm for Mr 6’s bedroom for people who wanted to enter. This was set up with much testing of the light sensor to get this right. Outside of his room, he attached the light sensor circuit with a sign telling people what to do. His receiver circuit was inside.
He added a sign and then get us all to test it.
A further piece of learning arrived that evening as the house got darker……as his receiver kept buzzing. The darkness was activating it!
LittleBits is one piece of equipment I plan to include in my upcoming FutureSchools session in Sydney in March.