creating littleBits circuits

Posted on: March 2nd, 2014 by jnovakowski

I spent some time on Friday in the grades 5 & 6 class at Garden City. This term, the students have been studying electricity as their science topic and their teacher Paula Zack (who is in for Liz Nasu who is on mat leave) thought it would be interesting to see what connections they made to what they learned about electricity as they investigated littleBits.

The students also discovered that the order of the littleBits did matter. At first they weren’t sure and this group was convinced that there button wasn’t working, until they changed the order of the littleBits. They explained that the information that needs to make something happen needs to come first (the button before the buzzer).
“The button doesn’t work if it comes after the buster, it has to come before the buzzer. Electricity doesn’t flow backwards.”

As students investigated and tested things out with the littleBits, I recorded several of the observations and comments the students made, revealing their developing understanding of electricity:

-there are metal prongs so when you snap littlebits together it completes the circuit
-the electrons flow from the battery
-the green ones all do something
-the power switch controls the flow of electrons 
-we found out the slide dimmer changes the sound of the buzzer
-the magnets only go in a certain way otherwise they won’t connect
-I close the circuit when I turn off the power switch

Some of the groups were very interested in the three-pronged fork bit and played around with changing the variables and bits attached to see how these changes affected different bits. They noticed that some bits were louder, brighter or moved more quickly when less bits were attached to the fork.

Because they need more energy.”
“Servo goes faster when you take other bits off.”

And after some experimentation, some students were still confounded by the purpose of the orange wires:
I still don’t know what this does!”

and then they realized they could use them to reach further with their circuit when they create things.

The circuits got more and more complicated as the session moved on…

One session with the littleBits was not enough and I could tell that the students’s synapses were firing in their brains with ideas of what they could create. Hopefully, the class will be able to book the district kit some time during third term.

Here’s a short Animoto video overview of this class’ first littleBits session:

I’m sure the students have lots of ideas for what they might create with the littleBits now that they know what they can do!

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