Meet David Saunders
David Saunders is an educator and library media specialist working in Greenwich, CT. He has an abiding love of good design, inquiry-based learning, and strong coffee. He is often in the Labrary makerspace tinkering with this or that. He’s also a Google Certified Innovator, Trainer, and Administrator, Raspberry Pi Certified Educator, littleBits Global Chapter Leader, CUE Rockstar faculty member and co-host of the weekly TechEducator podcast on Teachercast. David recently received a littleBits Gizmos and Gadgets kit, invented Lunar Escape: Bumper Ball and shared her inventing experience with us.
What new side of you [or your kids] did littleBits unlock?
Because littleBits are so easy to use, kids – and adults! – quickly move past the intimidation factor of working with circuits and progress directly to the design and build process. As a result, littleBits has the power to unlock the creative genius in all of us.
What was your littleBits “a-ha!” moment? The moment you, or your kids, were bitten by the littleBits bug?
I had recently opened our library innovation lab and had received a shipment of littleBits that were still sitting in their boxes in the office. We had a family birthday party that weekend and, on a lark, I decided to bring the Bits along and see if any of the kids would be interested in testing them out for me. After the presents were given and the cake consumed, I laid the littleBits kits out on the kitchen table and sat back to observe. Immediately, kids started crowding around the table, eager to see what they could do with these brightly-colored modules. Shouts of “I get it!”, and “These are awesome!” filled the kitchen as invention after invention was proudly displayed on the table. In that moment, I was bitten by the littleBits bug and have never looked back.
What everyday objects have you [or your kids] reinvented?
Over the past few years, we’ve had the opportunity to reinvent lots of objects around our home and school. Recently, my kids and I built a tabletop mini-golf course complete with spinning windmill obstacles, an alert system that texts me whenever lights are turned on in certain areas of our house, and a Halloween statue that aims to scare trick-or-treaters with spooky sounds when they reach their hand into the candy dish! We love that littleBits makes creating so easy.
What imaginary worlds did your inventions open up?
Our recent Lunar Escape project was loads of fun because we created a backstory to the game while we were building it. My son and I decided on the premise of the game then spent the build hours creating a story to explain why the player needed to escape the moon. What was going on? Was the player in danger? Why were they on the moon to begin with? Lunar Escape provided an amazing opportunity for us to explore this imaginary world!
What was your favorite collaborative moment with your kids?
I was recently working with a sixth grade class that was using littleBits to build vehicles. While many of the groups were focused on building elaborate carriages and accessories, one group was interested in finding ways to use gears to increase the speed of their car. This was a great “ambush learning” opportunity, as were able to find a box of LEGO robotics gears in the lab and explore how gears work in simple machines. They quickly started prototyping new designs and ultimately built a car that not only had a unique aesthetic design, but also successfully utilized gears, something that was not at all part of our learning objectives for the day!