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Jeff

invention

Make and Munch plus Party Indicator!

by jeffriv

Published on April 26, 2015

A Munch & Make event to introduce students and staff at the our school to littleBits. A neat project that came out of it was a way to indicate a class party. Some teachers use glass stones to reward good behavior. The stones are put in a jar, and when the jar is full the class earns a party. We used littleBits to give an even better visual indicator of party time!

Credits: Thanks to our music teacher Tina for the Synth Kit use, and teacher Michele for use of her stone jar.

How To Make It

STEP 1

Invite staff and students to Make and Munch! Pro tip: littleBits and sticky fingers don't mix, so put have your "Make" and your "Munch" in different rooms!

STEP 2

Set out your littleBits, with some signs indicating what they are all for. When people stop by, start making! The teachers loved it, and the kids of course starting tinkering right away. The Synth Kit was a huge hit and people jammed on it all morning.

We also talked about how we could use littleBits in the school outside of technology class proper. Science units on electricity and magnetism were obvious choices, as well as simple machines and even demonstrations of weight and measurement. And of course the Synth Kit will be a smash hit in music class.

STEP 3

MAKE A PARTY INDICATOR! Some of our teachers reward good behavior by putting glass stones in a jar. When the jar is full, the class gets a party! We used littleBits to provide another visual indicator of when it's party time. Build the littleBits circuit: Power + pressure sensor + wire + bar graph

STEP 4

Build the platform for the stone jar. Use a large flat LEGO piece for the platform, supported by a small lego piece at one end, and resting on a bit of rubber eraser at the other end. The rubber eraser should rest on the pressure sensor. See sketch. Small, sharp objects (like another LEGO) don't seem to set off the pressure sensor, it works better for something pressing the entire area like a finger tip or the eraser.

STEP 5

Place jar on platform and adjust positioning so the bar graph is off (or at most one light) when the jar is empty, and completely lit up when full. You can move the jar position, and you can also adjust where the platform sits on the rubber eraser. Hint: you may need a longer platform to get things just right.

STEP 6

Use wire to position the bar graph in a visible place. You could even mount it on the jar itself.

STEP 7

Start with the empty jar, then begin adding glass stones to the jar. When the red LED lights on the bar graph, it's party time!

STEP 8

POSSIBLE ENHANCEMENT: Use "threshold + buzzer" after the bar graph. If the threshold is set properly, when the last LED lights up on the bar graph, the buzzer goes off. I'll try this if I get a threshold bit.

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