A little introduction to littleBits


a little introduction to littleBits

The purpose of this lesson is to introduce students to the littleBit modules by having them replicate a real-life application and then design their own project that has a purpose.

Driving Questions:

1. How do littleBits work (what components go in what order)?

2. How can you use littleBits to design a flashlight?

3. How can you use littleBits to solve a problem?

Objectives:

By the end of the lesson, students will be able to:

1. Ask testable questions.

2. Design solutions for pre-defined problems.

3. Understand and apply the idea that there might be more than one “right” answer to a problem by developing multiple solutions for a given problem.

Assessment Strategies:

There are reflection questions embedded throughout the lesson that can be used to assess and evaluate students’ understanding as they explore littleBits and gain an understanding of basic problem solving skills. There are also additional end-of-lesson reflection questions that can be utilized as exit tickets.

Next Generation Science Practices:

1. Asking questions that arise from careful observation of phenomena, models, or unexpected results, to clarify and/or seek additional information.

2. Evaluate competing design solutions based on jointly developed and agreed-upon design criteria.

Key Vocabulary:

power, input, output, wire, connector

Tips and Tricks:

Module cards can be used as scaffolding for students during this lesson. The module cards are included in the littleBits Workshop Set or can be downloaded from the following link:

https://s3.amazonaws.com/littleBits_pdfs/littleBits_IndividualModulesCards.pdf

The challenge cards – required for Step 4 – can be found on Page 20 of the littleBit Educator’s Guide

(https://s3.amazonaws.com/littleBits_pdfs/littleBitsEducatorsGuide_FINAL.pdf)

Duration: 75 minutes (minimum)

Credits: littleBits [for providing the challenge activity in the Educator’s Guide that this lesson is based on] and iUSE Lab [Innovation in Urban Science Education Lab – Boston College (MA)]

GRADE LEVEL
Middle School (ages 11-13)

SUBJECT
Art/Design
Robotics
littleBits Basics

MODULES & ACCESSORIES USED (17)
fan (1)
slide dimmer (1)
buzzer (1)
long led (1)
light sensor (1)
button (1)
power (1)
pulse (1)
rgb led (1)
servo (1)
screwdriver (1)
motorMate (1)
temperature sensor (1)
number (1)
battery + cable (1)
wire (1)
DC motor (tethered) (1)

OTHER MATERIALS USED (6)
Flashlight 1
Paper Plate or Tray 1
Paper and Pencils 1
Small Whiteboard 1
Arts and Crafts Supplies 1
Set of Challenge Cards 1

LESSON GUIDE

STEP 1 : SETUP

This lesson can be done individually or in small groups (2-3 students).

Before the lesson begins ensure that:

o There are littleBit modules (battery, cable, power, button, wire, and buzzer) on every student’s (or student group’s) desk for the Do Now! activity.

o There are paper plates nearby, already organized with the remaining littleBit modules needed for Challenges 1 – 7 (see Modules and Accessories).

o There are arts and crafts available in the room for students, for when they get to Challenge 7.

Materials Needed (2-3 students):

o Flashlight

o Paper Plate or Tray (use as workstation)

o Challenge Cards (printed out and separated)

o Paper and Pencils (for sketches)

o Small Whiteboard

o Arts and Crafts Supplies (Zip Ties, Plastic Cups, Rubber Bands, Pipe Cleaners, etc.)

o littleBits Workshop Set

STEP 2 : INTRODUCE (5 – 10 minutes)

Guiding Question: How can you control the buzzer with the button?

Procedure: Using the littleBit modules that are on students’ desks, have them explore how to use the littleBits by asking them to assemble these modules in a way that they can turn their buzzer on and off using the button module. Students might need some time to do this, depending on their level of familiarity with littleBits. Note: Students do not need a wire to do this but the key here is to let them explore and realize that there are multiple ways to control the buzzer using the button.

Outcome: There are multiple correct combinations possible:

o Battery + Cable + Power Module + Wire + Button + Buzzer

o Battery + Cable + Power Module + Button + Wire + Buzzer

o Battery + Cable + Power Module + Button + Buzzer

Reflection: Once students have completed this task, they should reflect on the following questions within their groups:

o How do you know that you are connecting littleBits the correct way?

o Does it matter in which order the littleBits were assembled? What if I had the buzzer before the wire?

o Was there more than one right way to control the buzzer using the button?

Following this, groups can contribute their answers to the entire class that can lead to a class discussion on littleBits (how they can be connected, does the order of assembly matter) and how there are multiple ways to approach a problem. This is also a good opportunity to introduce the color scheme for littleBits: Power (Blue), Input (Pink), Output (Green), and Wire or Connector (Orange).

Helpful Tip: If students have done some programming in the past, then littleBit modules can be easily introduced as different parts of a software program.

STEP 3 : EXPLORE (20 minutes)

Guiding Question: What can each of the littleBits do?

Procedure: Distribute the paper plates, with the remaining littleBit modules, to each student group. For the first part of this activity have students work in their groups to explore all the littleBits on the paper plates. Since the same littleBit modules are available to students for the Challenges, provide them with enough time to:

● Create different arrangements.

● Move littleBits around and see how input modules affect output modules.

● Explore with different sensitivities on input modules (ex. light sensor).

● Experiment with the littleBits and take risks.

For the second part of this activity, have two student groups work together and combine their littleBit modules to experiment with arrangements that have more than one input and / or arrangements that have more than one output. After giving students some time to explore various littleBit arrangements, have them focus on creating an application using the littleBit modules they have at hand.

Helpful Tip: Having a fixed time for student groups to work on creating their applications (about ten minutes or so) will be helpful in getting them to focus on the task at hand.

Reflection: Once students have completed this task, they should turn to the group next to them and explain what their littleBit application is and how it works. In addition, student groups can also reflect on the following questions within their groups.

o Where can you use the littleBit application you have just created?

o Can this application be used to solve a problem?

Wrap-Up: Have groups split up their littleBit modules evenly again, put them on their plate or tray, and then hand these back to the instructor.

STEP 4 : DESIGN (10 minutes)

Guiding Question: How does a flashlight work?

Procedure: Distribute one flashlight, some pencils and paper to each student group. Have groups look and explore the flashlight, and encourage them to use the whiteboards to right down what parts make up a flashlight. In addition, have each group right down what littleBit components they think can be used to create a working flashlight and why.

Helpful Tip: This is a good opportunity to encourage students to sketch out their designs.

Reflection: Following this activity, have each group share their ideas and designs with the group next to them. Using student input, make a list of common items that students will require to build a flashlight.

Wrap-Up: Setup the next part by letting students know that they will be using littleBits to construct / build applications that are useful in real-life, such as alarms and flashlights, by completing a set of challenge activities.

STEP 5 : CHALLENGES (20 minutes)

Procedure: Redistribute the plates, containing the littleBit components, to all student groups. In addition, distribute the first challenge card to each student group and have each group work through the challenges one at a time. After a challenge has been successfully completed, and verified by the instructor, the group can then move onto the next challenge card. Once students complete Challenges 1 – 6, they should also have access to the Arts and Crafts supplies (see Materials Needed) for Challenge 7.

NOTE: The solutions for the challenge activities can be found on Page 19 of the littleBit Educator’s Guide (https://s3.amazonaws.com/littleBits_pdfs/littleBitsEducatorsGuide_FINAL.pdf)

Helpful Tip: It might be beneficial to setup a “check-in” station in the classroom where:

● Students can bring up their completed littleBit designs / products for each completed challenge.

● Students can explain their solutions to each challenge, while showcasing their product (checking for understanding).

● Students can receive the next challenge card to take back to their group.

Reflection: Once groups have completed all the challenges, have them share the littleBit application they created for Challenge 7 with the class and let them explain what their application does.

Helpful Tip: If time permits, this would be an ideal place to review the different ways by which student groups completed certain challenges: to re-emphasize that there are multiple ways to approach a problem.

STEP 6 : REFLECTION (5-10 minutes)

The following questions can be discussed as a class, within each student group, or be used as exit ticket questions for individual students to reflect upon the lesson:

● What did you do in this lesson?

● What is one littleBit application that you made in this lesson? How does it work?

● What was one problem you faced during the lesson and how did you solve this problem?

STEP 7 : CLOSE (5 minutes)

Following the reflection questions (discussion or exit tickets), student groups should clean up their workspace by handing back all the littleBit components, in the paper plates, and put all the arts supplies away. If exit tickets were utilized, students should also hand these in to the instructor.