Teachers and home-school educators see how STEM education continues to grow and its importance. STEM education focuses explicitly on science, technology, engineering and math. You might also see STEAM, which has the same focuses with the arts added into the mix.
Because students across the country are engaging in distance-learning activities, much like those who home-school, there’s a growing need for hands-on activities that encourage experimentation and exploration. That’s where littleBits powered by Sphero come into play.
What Are littleBits?
littleBits are colorful modular electronic Bits. They snap together easily using small magnets to build fully-fledged and functioning inventions. The kits help make learning about circuitry and electronics fun and imaginative. You can use these products in classrooms and homes. They’re ideal for situations where you want to incorporate STEM education using a circuit kit. These kits are best for children ages eight and older.
littleBits are available in a broad range of kits, with some focusing on specific curriculum themes. Examples of kits include:
What is a STEAM Kit?
STEAM kits give children opportunities to learn beyond books by using hands-on projects and solving problems like real-world inventors. The addition of the “A” to STEM for “arts” helps elevate a child’s creative thinking and critical problem-solving skills (read: STEM vs. STEAM). You’ll find hands-on technology projects in STEAM kits that children can work on collaboratively or independently.
Examples of what littleBits STEAM kits include:
- 25 bits and 35 accessories
- Durable storage containers
Printed invention guide, including four guided challenges and four
- Over 40 hours of standards-aligned lessons
- Printed teacher support materials
STEAM kits are ideal for promoting a child’s discoverability and exploration. These take-home sets provide hands-on learning materials that fit within one or more of five categories: science, technology, engineering, arts, or math.
How Do littleBits Work?
The magnets on the ends of littleBits help children understand when they are and are not making the correct connection. For example, if they’re using the bits correctly, the magnets stick together. However, if it’s an improper connection, the magnets repel each other. Incorporating magnets into littleBits removes the frustration that sometimes occurs when building a circuit.
One of the best things about littleBits kits is that they work together. So, the more kits you have, the more opportunities there are to learn about electrical circuits and additional subject areas. Children learn how these “bits” work easier because each one is color coded according to its function:
- Blue: power components that connect to a 9-volt battery
- Pink: input bits allowing the creator to control the circuit
Green: output bits creators use to make the circuit perform a specific
- Orange: wire components creators can use to extend the circuit
This color coding makes it easier for children to create circuits independently and simultaneously learn about logical and systems thinking. Another feature that helps children learn is the addition of arrows on each component. These arrows indicate the flow of electricity as it moves through the circuit. Students can use littleBits to create simple inventions, including the small RC car or a light-up operation.
The Benefits of Using littleBits in STEAM Education
Incorporating littleBits STEAM education into lesson plans helps strengthen the application of higher-level critical thinking skills, collaboration and creativity. When students work with these activities, they become problem-solvers who can persevere through unexplored territory. As they begin understanding the value of planning well-organized blueprints for their inventions, they become designers, editors and team players.
The use of littleBits also gives educators opportunities to enhance cross-curricular activities. When educators incorporate littleBits into more extensive assessments and projects, students can add another layer of creativity and interactivity to a project. For example, they can use dioramas, posters and more to expand these educational principles.
Introduce STEAM Education Using littleBits
We’re living in a society where educators must prepare students for jobs that don’t exist yet. Leonardo Da Vinci was on to something when coining the phrase: “Study the science of art. Study the art of science” (Pasipoularides, 2019). It wasn’t until 2010 that STEM became STEAM to guide a student’s critical thinking, dialogue and inquiry (Public Engagement | Academics | RISD, n.d.). When using littleBits, you can empower your child with creativity, innovation, and problem-solving so they can be future ready.
To learn more about using littleBits to introduce STEAM to your children, check out littleBits STEAM kits and littleBits Classroom activities, and use our littleBits Getting Started Guide for educators today!
Pasipoularides, A. (2019). Emulating Leonardo da Vinci (1452–1519): the convergence of science and art in biomedical research and practice. Cardiovascular Research, 115(14), e181–e183. https://doi.org/10.1093/cvr/cvz275
Public Engagement | Academics | RISD. (n.d.). Rhode Island School of Design. Retrieved February 10, 2021, from https://www.risd.edu/academics/public-engagement/#support-for-steam