For educators who are new to littleBits and not quite sure where to begin, Tim Hammill is your guy. He has been running professional development sessions with littleBits that have the potential to impact over 50,000 students in Pennsylvania. We were excited to share his experiences and reflections below. We hope Tim’s excellent work spurs your own ideas about creating unique professional development opportunities in your school.
Tell us about your current teaching experience:
I am currently the Supervisor of Educational Technology and Curriculum at The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. The Westmoreland Intermediate Unit is a state educational service agency serving all of Westmoreland county, which consists of 17 school districts, 3 career and technical centers and approximately 50,000 students. My role is to develop and provide professional development opportunities and programs that serve the needs of our districts and their students. We strive to provide leadership and direction to our districts by presenting emerging technologies and instructional “best practices.” I am fortunate to have a talented, diverse and motivated team that makes all of this a reality!
How did you discover littleBits? What drew you to our product/company?
My discovery of littleBits was purely accidental and it was love at first sight! In one of my many searches through the vast library of TED Talks, I stumbled upon Ayah Bdeir’s talk (Building Blocks that Blink, Beep and Teach). I was instantly taken by the possibilities Ayah presented as well as the connection made to the “building block of our time.” The experience was nothing less than transformational. I knew that if I was feeling so excited and motivated by this innovative new tool, that same feeling would find it’s way into the minds of our teachers and students. As I learned more about the littleBits company and their unique business model (a spirit of open source and sharing), it became apparent to me that this was something worth pursuing.
How do you use littleBits as a 21st century STEM/STEAM teaching and learning tool?
My focus with littleBits is on professional development. I have been conducting littleBits workshops with teachers that focus on integrating littleBits across the K-12 curriculum. I strive to get teachers to see littleBits as something more than a science kit or method for teaching students about circuits. I want them to see the incredible potential that is in front of them in terms of getting students to be creative and use higher-order-thinking-skills.
Although, we have only been at this for less than a year, the response from teachers has been incredible. They are excited and motivated to go back to the classroom and have some “geeky fun!”
My goal is to keep the interest level going by continuing to offer additional opportunities and updates as littleBits continues to develop and distribute additional modules. As an example, the new Synth Kit has opened up a whole new realm of possibilities and creative implementation ideas! I literally can’t wait to see what’s next! My hat is off to the developers at littleBits that continue to explore all of the possibilities!
What is your favorite littleBits project?
I love the flashlight project. I ask teachers to build this as a first project then challenge them to improve on the design. I love to watch them collaborate and search for creative ways to use additional modules. You would be amazed at what a flashlight can do!
Also, check out the holiday project from one of Tim’s sessions.
Describe littleBits in your own 3 words:
Endless learning possibilities!
If you could challenge your students to make anything with any amount of littleBits, what would you have them create?
I would want them to create something that has never existed before! I want to challenge them to problem-solve and think outside the box! In fact I would prefer that they throw “the box” away!
What advice can you offer teachers who are new to littleBits?
Don’t be afraid to let your students explore and play. Every activity with littleBits doesn’t have to be a planned experience.