Chapter Spotlight: Amnon & Gabi Carmel of TechScience Australia

littleBits Workshops in Sydney, Australia

August 5, 2015

AMNON & GABI CARMEL

TECHSCIENCE

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I am based in…

Beautiful Sydney, Australia

Tell us more about your organization/space.

TechScience Australia aims to prepare the children of Australia to life in the 21st century. We have a makers space in which we combine littleBits with 3D Printing and other technologies, hold littleBits workshops and run an after-school educational programs teaching foundation for scientific thinking and introduction to future technologies.

I was inspired to start a Global Chapter because…

It is so cool to be part of a thriving global community that aims to make the most out of educational technologies! We exchange ideas with like-minded people across the planet and get inspired by the amazing projects posted by others online. The least we can do in return is share our successes, projects and tips with others.

How are you re-inventing your makerspace / learning space with littleBits?

littleBits is a superb tool for getting kids engaged with technology and understanding how electronics work. We try to go beyond the basic projects – use 3D printed objects, robotics and other technologies to create more sophisticated projects.

We strongly believe that education should also be fun. We put a lot of emphasis on documentation creating photos and videos from many events. This encourages kids and their families to show the creations to others and by doing so, spread the love of science and technology further.

Finally it’s all about constant exploration – we keep trying new things, investing in new technologies, reading about new ideas and learning from others. Never settle for what you have, always keep pushing for more!

Tell us more about your last event.

The BitOlympics event was the last workshop we did. It was a superb event that took place in the heart of Manly Beach, one of the most iconic beaches in all of Australia. We worked on this space in cooperation with the Manly Council and operate in the Manly Library.

We had 25 kids ages 8-12 in that workshop. We divided them into 5 groups. Since we only had two hours for the entire event and since most children never worked with littleBits before, we kept it simple by preparing concepts in advance. We planned five projects and prepared all the required bits in separate boxes.

After a brief description of what we are going to do, we gave each group the box of relevant littleBits and told them generally what they can make. The kids then got a chance to play around with the littleBits, see how they work and design their projects. It’s important to note that while we provided guidance, we didn’t give any instructions as to what to build. Instead we let the kids design their own projects came out quite different than we anticipated (which is really cool)!

We brought plenty of arts & crafts materials (cardboard boxes, rubber bands, metal wires, styrofoam balls etc). We also had lots of extra LittleBits to add additional flare to the projects.

When the projects were ready, we invited all the parents and let each group demonstrate what they have made.

What were some of the projects that came out of your event? Be sure to include photos!

The kids built some amazing BitOlympics projects! We loved the Soccer Disco Party – the kids turned the intended soccer match into a colourful disco arena.

We also had the Minecraft Skier – a 3D Printed skier with a moving snowy background that was rolling using 2 toilet paper rolls and LittleBits engines.

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Other projects were the Kickbot with the counting scoreboard , the catapult competition, and finally the winner of the Topspin Award in the BitOlympics – the Table Tennis game that lets two players control Lego characters with 3D Printed rackets who fight for table tennis glory!

What did you learn from hosting this event?

We loved the creativity the kids displayed. The (all-boys) group who decided to turn the soccer into a dancing competition is a great example for that. It was so awesome! We also loved the way the kids proudly presented their creations to their parents and peers.

We’ve done quite a few littleBits projects before, but this one was special because of the common theme and the fact that we were competing on an international arena. We are likely to create more themed workshop in the future. It was lots of fun!

Who else in your community inspires you?

We follow quite a few other littleBits Chapter leaders and get inspired by their projects and creations. A few examples include LittleMaker from Americana, Brazil, Wizzbangz from Gainesville, Florida, and LaTataRobotica from Carpi, Italy.

We keep looking for more good groups to follow. We urge all other chapter leaders to get in touch and cooperate with us where possible.

Whatʼs next for your chapter?

We plan to expand our project range, have more themed events and more workshops in new areas. We have orders from 5 other councils and local libraries. We want to use more sophisticated bits such as the cloudBit and Makey Makey. We also want to integrate further the robotics and 3D printed materials into our projects.

We have other big plans, but we’ll keep those to ourselves for now… 

Whatʼs been your favorite thing about being a Chapter leader? Why should others join?

We are very proud to be the Chapter leader in Sydney. It’s great to be part of an international community – the support is fantastic and it gets the inspirational juices flowing. We love telling the kids about other similar groups of children their age that are halfway across the planet and it’s also a good promotional tool and discussion starter when introducing ourselves to new parents and venues. We strongly encourage any active LittleBits groups to become chapter leaders and join the community!