I spent three Wednesday afternoons at Blair working with teacher-librarian and resource teacher April Chan and a primary group of students that were working on inquiry projects.
Our first day together the students investigated littleBits and what they could do. One student exclaimed right away, “oh, they are magnetic!” I think it is so much more worthwhile for students to discover this themselves than for me to tell them ahead of time that the littleBits are magnetic and other things they are able to do.
One student read the battery (not realizing it was a battery because of its bright purple colour) and said, “It says juice. Juice is like energy. I think this could attach to this (connecting power wire and bit). It says on and off (reading the power bit). Can I touch the switch? The light goes on! Hey, it’s shaking! (as she realizes the connected DC motor is vibrating on the table).” I love that this student was articulating her discoveries as she went, and I was able to document them.
I asked the students to share what they had learned about littleBits so far and their responses were:
“They are magnetic.”
“The juice makes things happen.”
“The order of the bits matters.”
The primary group were able to synthesize their findings into big ideas…pretty impressive.
Then, we watched a short video from the littleBits website to inspire the students for the following week as they began to create their own projects.
During the second session, students worked on their own or in partnerships to create something that does something. Some students began by drawing their plans while others jumped right into making something, testing as they went.
The students were asked to record their design plan so that they could replicate it the following week.
Here is a short video highlighting some of the students’ experiences:
During our final session together, the students were to re-create their projects by following their plans. One partnership had their flying bird working in no time and decided to add a nest to their project.
One boy abandoned his robot arm project and decided to try something new, inspired by the mounting board.
A group of three boys quickly recreated their circuit and them expertly explained the contribution of each littleBit to their project.
A short little video of the boys explaining their circuit:
The make something that does something lesson was not lost on these boys…they very clearly told me that their project did do something – it beeped and buzzed and shook and lit up and the fan spun around!
A girl adapted her plan when she couldn’t access the light colour changing bit so using an LED, she used a fire coloured red with the light behind it to create the campfire glow she wanted. Once her campsite was all set up and she realized the strength of the LED, she creatively played around with shadows and added a character standing inside her tent!
Such diversity and creativity in all of the students’ projects!