Rob Gilson

January 30, 2017

Rob Gilson

What’s your current role and location?

STEAM Specialist, Blue School, Manhattan, NY

How have you used littleBits in the past? What’s worked best?

We’ve enjoyed taking on design challenges with the littleBits. Everyone gets a chance to test a theory, prototype a design, and basically become an engineer. The challenges set the motivation for the effort, and the Invention Cycle keeps the wheels spinning. We also encourage student documentation in their work. Students receive a journal in which they record discoveries and designs, and share with the class what they’ve found.

How do you plan to use littleBits this school year?

We are all extremely excited to integrate the CodeKit into our littleBits experience this year. With the CodeKit, we’ll take on all-new design challenges, essentially falling in love with our entire littleBits library all over again as we deliberate and test myriad solutions to a multitude of challenges. Marrying the field of coding, a typically sedentary and passive practice, with littleBits, a highly dynamic experience where kids are in and out of their seats testing designs, is a match made in digital heaven.

What kinds of skills do you think your students learn using littleBits?

Students who work with littleBits automatically enter the deeply satisfying world of engineering, not only learning and understanding what the Bits do individually but what they can do together, when integrated into a thoughtful, creative, and user-tested design. The littleBits Invention Cycle cultivates systematic thinking and facilitates an integration of the design process, as well as engenders more subtle skills like patience, persistence, and pride. Collaboration is a vital part of that process, and I find that students gladly share their discoveries and their missteps. They genuinely want to see their classmates succeed in their work, since they know it will be something they can draw inspiration from, reverse engineer, and maybe hack to add their own innovation. littleBits are an inherently friendly way to explore engineering.

What do your students enjoy most about littleBits?

The ability to rapidly prototype, test, and improve a design is so satisfying. Empowering students to demystify the electronic tools and toys in their worlds is an incredibly powerful experience. When children can re-create the technology around them using simple circuitry concepts as facilitated with littleBits, they move from consumer to creator, an invaluable step on the development towards independence and autonomy. Children feel that power, and they thrive on it.

What’s the coolest invention your students have created with littleBits?

Wow, so many…but the interactive birthday cake was deeply appreciated by its recipient and wins for sentimental reasons.

What advice would you give to people just starting out with littleBits?

​Engage students in every part of your experience, including the management of the Bits and their cleanup. They will be strong allies in making sure time spent with the Bits is efficient and fair, to maximize their hands-on time. Also, go big with the craft supplies. littleBits are essentially the bones and muscle of the inventions the students consider. Children love to add their personality to the design. Their efforts will probably inspire you with a new design challenge!

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