What’s your current role and location?
I’ve been the 7th grade science teacher at The Evergreen School in Shoreline, Washington for eight years, and starting this fall I’ll be the lead teacher of our new school-wide makerspace, preschool through 8th grade.
What was your first impression of littleBits, and how did that change after you began playing with them?
My first impression of littleBits was that they were cute but simple toys without the flexibility needed to create really interesting projects. Once I started playing with them, I realized they’re actually quite flexible, given the split and wire extension Bits, and the screw adjustability of several of the sensors and outputs. At the Design Do Discover workshop at Marymount School in Manhattan in June, I saw several groups implement littleBits in clever ways, and I was able to support one team in implementing littleBits to do a task in a much simpler fashion than would have been possible with any of the available competing systems.
How do you plan to use littleBits this school year?
I anticipate launching littleBits with our younger learners to get them started with making interactive electronic systems. They’ll be able to make little interactive dioramas and interactive posters without the additional need to write code – littleBits will offer opportunities for fast success and feelings of accomplishment, which will then support students in pushing themselves even further on their next projects.
littleBits will also be a great option for older students when they want to make a quick project. The ease of creating interactive systems with littleBits promotes integration into the subject area classes, since it doesn’t take many days of extra learning and slogging to create projects for those classes when using littleBits. With many competing systems, integrating robotics and interactive electronics into a project means taking days or even weeks of additional class time. While maker-oriented teachers see the value in those extra days or weeks, many subject-area teachers are skeptical. littleBits offers a transition system to help teachers begin to see the value of tinkering in the classroom, and then push to more complex construction/electronics systems.
What kinds of skills do you think your students will learn using littleBits?
littleBits will support my students, preschool through 8th grade, developing soft skills in perseverance and creativity, as well as more concrete mechanical skills in developing interactive systems using the Bits. The Bits’ simplicity will help deliver these “Maker Movement” skills to a very broad range of ages, giving my youngest students an accessible system for their pre-reading and lower fine motor skills, and giving my older students a first entry point for success before moving to systems that require coding and more complex construction.
How do you plan to prepare or work with your teachers to use them?
We’ll definitely incorporate opportunities for teachers to do some tinkering themselves during faculty meetings this year. Once teachers experience the fun and learning for themselves, they’ll feel more confident to lead students, as well as believe that bringing it into the classroom will be valuable for their students’ learning.
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