Meet the Inventor

Jessica Opolko & Jundino, Savannah and Julius Ugo

 

The three J’s and S made three projects for the Bit Wars challenge, but it was the Millennium Falcon destroying the Death Star INSIDE a piano that caught the attention of the judges and ultimately winning the Grand Prize. The Millennium Falcon is activated by the intensity of the piano string sound vibrations. It attacks the Death Star and destroys it in a most unexpected manner. We spoke to the family to learn more.

We are based in Toronto, Canada.

How would you describe yourselves in an Ernest Hemingway-style novel? (6 words or less)

Skill. Perseverance. Wish we had both.

What was your littleBits “a-ha!” moment?  The moment you were bitten by the littleBits bug.

I really knew we had the littleBits bug when we converted the living room into a make-shift littleBits lab, canceled regular school (we homeschool, so we have the flexibility) and decided to do a littleBits unit for a couple of weeks. We feverishly worked around the clock, building by day and filming at night. We worked much longer than regular school hours because the kids just didn’t want to quit.

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When starting a littleBits project, what does your design process look like?

We think of an idea and imagine what we wish our invention could do even if we have no idea how we are going to make it do what we imagine.

Next, we mentally sketch out a story for our invention. We love stories.

We ask ourselves, which littleBits module works in the way that I need for my project?

Then we start building. And rebuilding. And rebuilding…

Then it’s time to connect the circuit to the model. And rebuild…

Finally, we start to bring out the story part of the project by designing some sort of stage, building props, making costumes and experimenting with lighting.

The four of us all enjoy different aspects of the process and have very different opinions so our only rule is no putting down someone else’s idea unless it has the potential to blow up the house. Then maybe say something… but make it positive.

How has littleBits impacted you creatively?


As parents we place a high value on creativity, innovation and not being afraid to fail: littleBits has blown the top off of what we thought we could do. It allows us to build things without having to learn soldering skills first or worry about faulty wiring that could result in personal harm so the making process is much quicker. We can make lots of mistakes because the pieces just snap together so we can easily try again.


What do you plan on inventing next?

We would like to experiment with the cloudBit module. My son would like to design something to count hockey pucks. You would get a point if the puck goes high enough into the net and have a point subtracted if you only shoot the puck on the floor. Hmmmm….  I have no idea how to do that. Sounds fun!

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