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Sunday, December 2, 2012

littleBits Implementation

As a non-teacher, I struggled in implementing my lesson plan. I reached out to a few different institutions who were unable to accommodate me in the time frame I needed in order to successfully implement my lesson plan. Since I wasn't able to complete action research in the format I had intended, I decided to take a different approach. I researched online various videos that others had recorded in regards to littleBits in general. I composed a LiveBinder to collect my research:

While the littleBits community section of their website provided a few examples more applicable to my actual lesson plan design of providing everyday household objects in addition to the littleBits components, I also found a lot of interesting videos on YouTube of kids playing with littleBits.  In some of the YouTube videos, the parents gave some instruction while other videos were only of the kids working with them. It is unclear how much knowledge the kids had of littleBits or circuitry before playing with them. It is difficult to evaluate their learning process without an assessment of any kind, but you can still observe the learning process for them in their play. 

Many of the community postings on the littleBits site were done by kids and some were done by adults (presumably based on the information in the videos).  The website also provided some “lessons” which gave a list of bits needed to complete a task, a list of steps to take in assembling the project, and sometimes a video instruction of how to complete the task.  Many videos on their website were done at maker type fairs, community events or classroom environments. Again, it was difficult to assess the knowledge the kids had prior to their creations and how much instruction was provided to them in circuitry in general or in creating their end products. 

What was most fascinating to me was that littleBits says the recommended age for use of their products is 8 and older. While this may be partially attributed to using batteries and the use of small parts, I found that many videos on YouTube were of children as young as two years old creating things (with parental supervision).  Watching these videos taught me a few things about predicting the success of my littleBits lesson plan in the future.  First, there may not be any prior knowledge needed in order to put together these circuits simply because of their color coding and magnet behavior. Second, while some children may not be capable of explaining the circuitry component of their creation, it is clear that they quickly learn what each color part is responsible for even if they cannot verbalize it. Third, trial and error is clearly an important component for understanding the technology of littleBits. Finally, I learned that free play with the littleBits may be an even more important activity for the kids than a pre-defined lesson plan.

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