We’ve been using a wonderful new educational material that introduces electronics in a fun and easy to use way. The idea behind these tiny, colorful electronic pieces is to get kids (and adults!) excited about creating circuits to build anything imaginable. Each piece (or bit) is color coded based on its function. The colors are bright, but not obnoxious, and make organizing simple. Because the littleBits are magnetic and will only attach in their proper direction, even small children can begin creating circuits. The fact that children can experiment and manipulate the bits before knowing complex vocabulary or concepts makes this an amazing introduction to electronics.
B received her first littleBits kit (the extended kit) as a birthday gift from Bubbe and Zayde. She immediately fell in love with them and started experimenting. The littleBits website features hundreds of projects created by their in-house design team as well as from littleBits users all over the world. In fact, they encourage everyone (teachers, kids, artists, etc) to build and post their projects on the company website. Looking at other projects and videos gave B lots of ideas and provided some early projects to try on her own. Her first project was a simple blender, followed a couple of days later by a flashlight! Soon after that, she began experimenting on her own and came up with her now famous sock game, featured on the littleBits website.
Now that we are on the road, working with littleBits has become part of our homeschool curriculum, especially since they take up very little storage space. B’s first invention on the road was to make a doorbell for her RV bunk. You can see our previous post here.
A few weeks and several states later, we designed a magnifier that used lights to illuminate the insects and plants we found in Yosemite National Park!
Our latest project, was inspired by the amazing youtube video, Caine’s Arcade. For anyone who hasn’t seen this wonderful story, it is about a little boy named Caine, who created an entire storefront arcade out of cardboard boxes. His creativity is astounding! My kids thought it was really cool and were excited to try designing something themselves. We couldn’t create something as magnificent as Caine’s Arcade in our tiny RV, so they kids each designed one game. They both chose to make a skill game with balls and holes. We talked about what she wanted her game to do, and she decided that the long LED’s should light when the ball dropped through the hole. She grabbed her motion sensors and LED’s and laid them out. When I asked her show she would connect them, she started to put them together and realized she needed something more. She said, “Oh, I’m gonna need a branch!” We had a little bit of a challenge getting the motion sensor to be a little less sensitive, but some tape around the edges helped! Even though we are in a tight space, the kids decided to make it more like a real arcade and dimmed the lights, made badges for the “staff” and they even made a money changer.
I am looking forward to building more complex projects with the kids as the year goes on!