The makers of littleBits sent me a Base Kit to explore their unique building blocks of circuitry with my children and share with you. Read on to see what we made with littleBits and also to get a coupon code for a 10% discount.
With littleBits, even young children and people with no technical knowledge can put together basic circuits for robotics and engineering projects. littleBits are color-coded building blocks of circuitry that snap together with magnets.
My five year old son is very interested in robotics and we have built some simple circuits together in the past. Besides their ease of use, littleBits also has the advantage of being lightweight. So, you can quickly build littleBits circuits and easily add them to other projects where you want inputs and outputs. Although he is younger than the recommended 8+ years age for littleBits, we decided to create a project with littleBits.
We began with the light-controlled car in the littleBits manual that came with our basic kit.
Before we started with our project, however, we familiarized ourselves with the modules in the base kit. My son knew that what we needed first was power. Power comes in the form of a battery plugged into a power module with an on/off switch.
I explained that we then needed an input. We checked out the various inputs: light sensor, button, and dimmer.
Finally, we explored the outputs: bargraph, buzzer, bright led, and DC motor. We made a light-sensitive alarm and a few other circuits and then got started on our project.
My son really liked the way the circuits snap together with magnets only when the correct sides were facing each other. This made it so simple even for a five year old!
The biggest challenge in building our car was engineering it so that it was balanced. The manual recommended using tape to hold the littleBits modules on the car base but I think in the future we’ll use rubber bands.
The circuits themselves are pretty foolproof. The challenge is in designing the project and making sure all of the user-designed pieces work properly. Identifying challenges and troubleshooting them in a project like this is a huge part of the learning–children begin to think like engineers.
My son has already started dreaming up our next project. He wants a robot coin bank. We have a tin can for the body. The littleBits will help us build a moving, coin-devouring creation.
Purchase: 10% off any littleBits Exploration Kit (starting at $99) with code natural10 (expires on 12/31/13). They also have an educator discount.
Disclosure: I was sent a littleBits Base kit and received compensation for this post. All words, ideas, and photographs are my own.