Summer Camp Programming: From Robotics to Rocket Science

littleBits Summer Camps in Action

April 10, 2014

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Summer is just around the corner. Are you looking for engaging ways to “electrify” your summer camp programming? Look no further, the littleBits community has examples of successful programs run at camps and after school programs over the past year. These sessions have been delivered to a variety of age ranges and skill levels — there’s something for everyone, whether you prefer open exploration or a more structured robotics or engineering program. Check out the sampling of programs below for guidance and inspiration on how other organizations around the world have harnessed the power of the Bits modules.

Engineering – Fundamentals of Electronics

Steven Wade from the William Penn Charter School in Pennsylvania began exploring littleBits with his campers ages 8-12, who needed very little hand holding to get started. They quickly moved from understanding inputs and outputs, to adding materials to the electronics and then trying a few projects; some kids “could have stayed and played all week.” Steven has since moved his littleBits exploration into the classroom and his third grade students came up with some pretty amazing projects. Check out his lesson page for a great sampling of his classroom’s inventions.

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Engineering – Rocket Science Program

The Digital Media Academy is a world class tech camp that gives its students the opportunity to engage in a wide variety of digital media topics.  Using both computer programs and hands-on experiments, the newly designed Adventures in Engineering and Rocket Science course is a perfect introduction to a wide range of STEM subjects, including electrical engineering, structural design and space flight. For a full overview of the program, check out the schedule for this action packed week.  This one week program is ideal for campers ages 8-12 and is hosted throughout the summer at 10 college campuses including Harvard, Stanford, UMichigan and McGill. You can read more about the program in our educator spotlight.

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Robotics – Smart House and “Hack my Toy”

Fora Radionice in Croatia is taking their robotics classes to the next level with littleBits. Their favorite electronic project so far is the smart house, complete with a motion-triggered fan, garage door opener and automatic interior lights. They’ve also conducted ‘Hack my Toy’ summer workshops to add lights, sound and motors to their camper’s old toys.

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Prototyping – Sustainability

Sean Murray from the Society for Useful Art in California used littleBits to prototype several projects, including a 50 watt solar panel cell phone charger – how cool! His campers were ages 10-15 and Sean reports that the participants felt comfortable trying new combinations and didn’t worry about making mistakes. 

Social and Career Awareness – Electronics and Your Future

Jace Meyer’s educator spotlight details her curriculum development using littleBits, which is designed to be “hands-on, play based, and relevant to the local context and cultures of the communities we engage. Much of the emphasis is also placed on career awareness so that youth are inspired to achieve their potential and fulfill their critical role in the world.” This Canadian camp, Actua, is a great example of locally relevant STEM programming at work.

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Open-ended Exploration – Multi-material Construction

Nancy Persing considers herself an “anti-instruction person,” which we love for fostering curiosity in campers. Her 4-H group from Michigan dove right into exploring the littleBits modules and starting adding other construction materials, like JawBones, LEGO® and Roominate. She also hosted a ‘Tech Excite’ class where the students created a robotic arm. Future bio-engineers in training!

Programming for Children with Intellectual Disabilities

Have you thought about comparing electricity to the water that flows through your pipes? That’s how Brendan White from St. Angela’s College in Ireland introduced littleBits in his summer workshops for children with Intellectual Disabilities. His students love the lights and sounds modules and how easily they can relate the electronics to circuits in the world around us, like cell phones and traffic lights. You can read more about Brendan’s work with disabilities programs in this feature blog post.

Guillermo using littleBits to trigger a smellbox developed by sensory objects, the box contained lavender blown by a fan triggered by littleBits

Music – Physics of Sound

Are you running a music program or camp? Be one of the first to build a program with our Synth Kit; the easiest to use, most powerful modular synthesizer in all the land! You can teach the physics of music, run electronic music workshops, record music or build your own camp orchestra with several Kits. All littleBits modules are compatible, so you can easily add lights and motion from the Exploration Kits to your Synth circuits to create an interactive music installation. Suggested age range: 10 – 17.

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Consult with our Team

We’re happy to consult with you on how to run similar programs or tailor your own littleBits Summer Adventure. Simply send an email to Tara, our Education Account Manager, at [email protected] to schedule a time to discuss your ideas in more detail.

Helpful Hints

You can also find all our tips and tricks on our blog and user-submitted projects on our community page. As an added bonus, we offer 15% off educator discounts for summer camps!

Keep us posted on the awesome littleBits camp sessions you create and projects your campers come up with. This summer is about to get ELECTRIC!