Teachers and media specialists can use Gizmos & Gadgets to empower future engineers and inventors with the littleBits electronic kits. After you follow directions in preset designs to get comfortable with the materials, littleBits are best used when kids make their own creations. Encourage students to enter some of the challenge competitions on the littleBits website, sharing their ideas with kids all over the country.
Gizmos & Gadgets is the perfect addition to a school's makerspace. When littleBits is used with entire classes or schools, make sure to have lots of extra 9-volt batteries, glue dots, and craft supplies on hand. There are lots of different Bits, and each one can be expensive. School districts might consider purchasing a few sets and rotating them every few months to each of their elementary schools. This might save some money and still give all kids a chance to invent with littleBits.Continue reading Show less
Gizmos & Gadgets is an app for the littleBits platform that uses electronic building blocks that can be combined and recombined to make endless inventions. Once built, creations are controlled wirelessly by a smartphone or tablet. Kids can follow directions to build a remote control car or a Burglar Buzzer that sets off an alarm if anyone tries to take their piggy bank. The power of littleBits lies in its Invention Cycle. Kids are encouraged to create, play, remix, and share their inventions. This engineering process with a creativity twist encourages kids to use craft materials to personalize the electronics they build.
In addition to controlling inventions wirelessly through the app, students can search for others' inventions, access step-by-step tutorials, enter challenges to win prizes, upload and share creations, and interact with the littleBits online community.
So many electronics sets become parent or teacher projects, requiring extensive adult support. littleBits is different because the circuit pieces just snap together using magnets. During testing an 8-year-old was able to follow clear step-by-step diagrams on her device to build a Bit Bot vehicle. Each time she completed a step, an encouraging chime urged her on. She required no help at all until the very end; attaching the different bits to the mounting board is a little tricky and may require stronger adult hands to snap each piece in place.
Gizmos & Gadgets is great at connecting digital technology with actual physical inventions. Are your kids mad about Minecraft? With the purchase of the cloudBit, kids can extend their virtual Minecraft fun into the real world. By building a cloud gateway in their Minecraft world, they can manipulate their littleBit invention in the game and in person. Gizmos & Gadgets encourages communication and teamwork beyond what can be done with pure online play. Kids can work together, helping each other build their circuits and brainstorming about inventions.
Key Standards Supported
Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.
Analyze data from tests of two objects designed to solve the same problem to compare the strengths and weaknesses of how each performs.
Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.