Open hardware for education with littleBits library of electronic modules

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Littlebits is disrupting the open hardware space. It's "an open source library of electronic modules that snap together with magnets for prototyping, learning, and fun." The company is the invention of Ayah Bdeir, an MIT graduate and TED senior fellow, and was founded in September 2011.

This is the normal for our kids: piecing together parts to make something they want to use, and being creators not just consumers! For one, many parents in the western world are having children later in life. Women often delay having a baby until they start a career, finish graduate school, or have more disposable income. A large majority of these mothers are highly educated and tend to be savvy consumers. Bear in mind, women are the leading or sole breadwinner in 40% of American households with children under 18.

Here are the 5 big reasons why littleBits is exciting and different:

  1. To make something does not require soldering, programming, or wiring.
  2. The process is hands on, fostering spatial reasoning, problem solving, and creative thinking. And, though it doesn't require knowledge of computer programming, it fosters the desire for coding skills.
  3. The product is well-designed, with girls, as well as boys, in mind. My grandfather (1915-2005) was an electrical engineer obsessed with transistors, electrical kits, and early personal computers. But none of those electrical kits, even the ones aimed at kids, were designed with aesthetics and "fun" in mind—something that appeals to girls. The "Bits" or electronic modules connect with color-coded magnets unlike transistors which was only for an older generation of electronical experts like my grandfather. Still, even he would recongize the merits of littleBits and approve of it. If he could see his great-grandson using it, he would be ecstatic. 
  4. Parents, mainly mothers, are disrupting old methods of news distribution and are sharing information through more personal groups, like listservs and forums. I heard about littleBits from a local homeschooling group online; not from the mainstream media, print nor digitally, and not from a tech or engineer geek friend either. 
  5. Ayah Bdeir and her team at littleBits are forward-thinking and maintain a growth mindset. Essentially, they understand that parents and schools are their primary market, and that children learn through play.
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Carolyn Fox is an educator, librarian, historian, and an un/homeschooling mother. She lives in Massachusetts with her UK husband and son.

1 Comment

I don't know... I am not convinced that "To make something does not require soldering, programming, or wiring" is the right thing to do when teaching someone to "make". Failure has always been the greatest teacher.

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