4 Ways to Celebrate Earth Day with littleBits

Get Eco-friendly and Invent for Green!

April 19, 2016

With Earth Day just around the corner and the #HackYourHabits challenge in full swing, this is the perfect time to start inventing. You might be thinking, “But what can I do to save the world?” We think that solving big challenges start with small steps. Here’s a list of invention inspiration, lesson plans, and workshop strategies that community members have created on their path to making the world a greener place. If you have your own, we want to see it! Upload it to the Invent page, then drop us an email at community[at]littlebits.cc or tweet at us @littlebits.

1) REFUSE TO WASTE YOUR RUBBISH. GET CREATIVE WITH IT.

Little Maker Americana, Americana Brazil
“One person’s trash is another’s artistic treasure.” We think this should be Brazilian Chapter Leader Diego Thuler’s mantra. In his makerspace, Little Maker Americana, Diego has his students combine recycled materials along with craft supplies and a splash of imagination to make cities, robots, Halloween props, and more. And they are geniuses of transforming garbage into green inventions. Just take a look below…



 

2) LEARN MORE ABOUT CONSERVING OR GENERATING ENERGY

Wind Turbine by gustavocintra22
Gustavo, one of Diego’s students, decided to learn more about how wind turbines work by creating his own. We’re super impressed with his prototyping skillz: he used a 3D pen and paper pattern for the body and blades, then “welded” them together with the 3D pen. Watch him in action here!

 

Make something that conserves something 
On the hunt for a last minute lesson plan about energy consumption? Look no further than this design challenge, perfect for any connected learning space and NGSS-aligned. It asks students to bring awareness to how they use – and probably overuse – energy in their daily lives. Sound boring? Just wait until you tell them that they will be Vampire Energy slayers after completing it.

 

3) HACK YOUR HABITS CHALLENGE
Appropriately – and not coincidentally 🙂 – this month’s challenge is Hack Your Habits. Put those invention chops to good use and design a prototype that lets you track or change a behavior related to greening the world. You could make a statement and start a movement or create an invention that encourages eco-friendly habits like the ones here:

Recycling Bin Prototype by Sylvia Dickoh

Sylvia is all about getting people to recycle through positive reinforcement. Her invention uses the cloudBit and IFTTT to send you a text message when you’ve used a recycling bin. But this is no simple thank you message: in her prototype, she imagines that it would count the number of times you recycle and let you know your energy trade off. Just imagine a world where you could only shower if you’ve recycled enough to earn it. How good would you smell?

 

Earth Day: My Personal Carbon Footprint by chris101
Chris left us breathless with this invention. He repurposes his Purple People Counter, “a device [that] passively counts and reports the number of people in a room…by measuring the amount of carbon dioxide they exhale,” and uses to test CO2 levels on his car.

Chris’ inspiration? Comic artist Walt Kelly’s observation that “solving a problem often involves the realization that oneself is the cause of the problem.”

 

4) MAKE YOUR HOME OR CLASSROOM SMARTER TO SAVE ENERGY
After you’ve created with trash, once you’ve learned about energy conservation, and brainstormed ways to hack your habits, it’s time to get smart. Actually, it’s time for your household or classroom devices to get smart.

Smart AC Unit
For example, the arrival of summer means the beginning of air conditioning season. Many companies have created smart thermostats, but you can outfit even your oldest AC using the cloudBit and a simple recipe from IFTTT. Don’t leave it on all day and be an energy hog. Start it right before you get home using your device or turn it off if you forget when you leave.

 

littleBits Rain Machine by Deren Guler
Speaking of memory, Deren invented a way to keep her green thumbs even while she was away. She uses a cloudBit and “a hacked water dispenser [to] create a watering schedule for your plant that will go off with a text or a preset schedule.” Since she had “plants at the office that will be all alone for a few weeks…[she] wanted to make something that can water them while [she’s] away.” Make it rain green y’all ;o)

 

Need some more inspiration? Watch Collette’s Earth Day Suncatcher get motivated to “RECYCLE”!