Featured Educator Kelly Knight on life-long learning

September 2, 2016

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Kelly Knight is the STEAM coordinator at Riverside Presbyterian Day School and a beta member of the brand new School Chapters Program that will formally launch later this year. When she’s not tinkering alongside her students, Kelly’s dreaming of inventing new modes of green travel. You can check out her student’s work on the Invent page!

Please describe yourself in 6 words or less.

Super curious. Occasionally intimidated. Increasingly perseverant.

Why do you like inventing?

I see inventing as a creative outlet that promotes risk taking and perseverance;  two values I try to carry into all aspects of my life. I love working as the STEAM coordinator at Riverside Presbyterian Day School because I have access to many kinds of building blocks and tools and am always creating and inventing with my students. When the day begins, there is no telling what ideas will flow in my classroom and what they will transform into.  It’s always exciting. No matter what, we are always learning. After much trial and error, planning and reworking, when an invention ACTUALLY WORKS everyone in the room buzzes with a tangible and contagious sense of joy. I’ve never seen my students, or myself, as happy as when we are working together with our hands and minds to invent and learn together.

Tell us about your favorite littleBits project that you have made.

My favorite littleBits project was the FIRST one I created. I attended the fantastic Constructing Modern Knowledge in July 2015 and was submerged, head first, into the “maker” culture. My group ended up making an interactive exhibit about the saguaro cactus using different tech tools. I made a gila woodpecker with littleBits. It had a head made out of a ping pong ball and a body of cardboard and felt. It had major franken-bird vibes but I loved it. I made it the first day that I ever encountered littleBits. I was slightly intimidated by them at first, but before long I was snapping together simple circuits and exploring what they could do. Eventually, I decided to use a servo to make the woodpecker’s head move back and forth.

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How has littleBits changed the way you teach?

littleBits has help me mold my teaching style in a tremendous way. This is my first year teaching my STEAM class so I’ve come into it with a very open mind and flexible approach. I try to shape my classroom around the idea that I am a facilitator who’s main goal is to create an environment where my students feel free to explore, create, fail, and learn in a fun and exciting way. littleBits fits right in to that philosophy. When my students are working on a project and they come to me to ask which bits they should use for a specific project, I encourage them to simply play around with the bits and make different circuits until they find what works best. littleBits encourage my students to be independent thinkers. They are easy to assemble and there are countless opportunities for different levels of creation. I love when I see a student discover something new and totally “epic” about littleBits. It isn’t long before the new discovery and subsequent ideas and knowledge spread throughout the classroom. Kids teaching kids. I love it!

If you could invent anything, to change the world what would it be?

Hmm… I will go with the selfish answer and invent a high speed, affordable, green powered, mass mode of transportation for easy travelling. I think visiting other places and getting outside of our comfort zones is vital to creating a compassionate and globalized society. It is a precious thing to get to see new places, experience natural wonders, and meet new people. Unfortunately, leisurely travel is something few people get to experience because of cost and infrastructure. Also, less CO2 emissions and no more rush hour traffic! #dreams