This week’s educator spotlight features Eric Shelley from the Village Glen School in California. Village Glen is an innovative, multidisciplinary and unique therapeutic day school specifically designed for children with challenges in the areas of socialization, communicative and pragmatic language development, and peer relations. Read more about how littleBits was a great fit for the Elementary Summer STEAM Program:
Tell us about your school or program.
Most of the students at Village Glen School have high functioning autism, but just like any other students they are active, interested and engaged. This summer, I taught a class of exceptionally bright students as part of the Elementary School’s Summer STEAM Program. The goal of the program is to engage students in hands-on, cooperative activities from a young age, and to develop their interest in STEAM-related subjects in an engaging, cooperative environment.
How did you discover littleBits? What drew you to our product/company?
We were looking for a way to have the students work on designing robotics. We already have programs in the middle and high schools, but wanted something that would be immediately accessible and engaging to the elementary grades—littleBits seemed perfect!
How do you use littleBits as a 21st century STEM/STEAM teaching and learning tool?
We had access to several littleBits kits, including the Student Set, the Workshop Set, and the Space Kit. To begin, I gave them a series of challenges, all of which they quickly met. Since summer school is only 4 weeks long, the students all agreed on a more ambitious project—a working model of the Mars Curiosity Rover. We all discussed the expectations of working as a team, being able to compromise, and being constructive and positive with their peers. To me, the social aspect of the project was a major benefit.
What I was particularly excited by is that as each student became more confident in their task: engineer, technician, designer, or project manager; they began to add their own design ideas to the original: lights, sounds, and digital displays.
What is your favorite littleBits project?
In the 4 weeks that we’ve had to work with littleBits, I’d have to say that the Rover project was great. But I’m sure I’ll feel the same way about the next project too!
Describe littleBits in your own 3 words:
Mighty, magical, magnets
If you could challenge your students to make anything with any amount of littleBits, what would you have them create?
I’d love to see them integrate the Arduino at Heart modules into their design, learn to program, and develop more and more complex designs. I know they are capable of it.
What advice can you offer teachers who are new to littleBits?
Let them explore, learn from each other, and encourage them to try their own ideas.