Exploring the Design Process with littleBits

Exploring the Design Pro

Exploring the Design Pro1

Exploring the Design Pro2

Exploring the Design Pro3

– Lesson Overview: This lesson will give students a hands-on introduction to the engineering design process. Students will work through the steps of the design process to create an invention to solve a problem using littleBits

– Lesson Objectives: Students will be able to identify the steps of the engineering design process and explain how they apply to the process they went through in creating their inventions.

– Assessment Strategies: Students will document each step of their design process in a design log, which will be turned in at the end of class. It will illustrate their understanding of each of the steps. Students will also write at least one paragraph reflecting on their experience and looking at what did/didn’t work with their invention.


* MS-ETS1-1. Define the criteria and constraints of a design problem with sufficient precision to ensure a successful solution, taking into account relevant scientific principles and potential impacts on people and the natural environment that may limit possible solutions.

* MS-ETS1-2. Evaluate competing design solutions using a systematic process to determine how well they meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.

* MS-ETS1-3. Analyze data from tests to determine similarities and differences among several design solutions to identify the best characteristics of each that can be combined into a new solution to better meet the criteria for success.

Duration: 1 60 minute class to explore as a rapid prototyping session . Can be stretched out to 2-3 days to allow students to delve deeper into the design process.

Middle School (ages 11-13)
High School (ages 14-17)


Earth & Space Science
Computer Science
Career Tech
Physical Science
Makerspace Workshops

fan (1)
motion trigger (1)
buzzer (1)
bend sensor (1)
light sensor (1)
led (1)
power (5)
pulse (1)
rgb led (1)
vibration motor (1)
pressure sensor (1)
servo (1)
sound trigger (1)
fork (1)
bright led (1)
screwdriver (1)
Craft Pack (1)
battery + cable (1)
markers (1)
glue dots (1)

Construction paper 1
Small boxes 5
Rubber bands 1
Paper Clips 1
Paper tubes 1



STEP 1 : Intro to design process – 5 minutes

Organize all of your students into groups and hand out copies of the design process worksheet. As students work through the design process in the lesson, have them fill out the worksheet. Introduce students to the basic steps of the engineering design process: identify your problem, brainstorm solutions, design your idea, build a prototype, test & evaluate, redesign, share solution. Talk about how this process can be used to solve any problem, whether it’s global warming or a better way to tie shoe laces.

STEP 2 : Identify the Problem – 5 minutes

Introduce your students to the problem: they have a box of stuff and their younger sibling is always messing with it. What can they create that can solve this problem? Give students time to discuss the problem

STEP 3 : Brainstorm Solutions, Design Your Idea – 10 minutes

Give each group of students a set of bits. Vary it up and give different groups different bits so that the possible solutions won’t be obvious. Have students brainstorm solutions using chart paper, post-its, etc and start working out their design. If students are struggling, guide them towards specific bits. Maybe a motion sensor or a light sensor would reveal if someone opened the box your stuff was in. Maybe a flashing LED (combining pulse and LED) could alert you. Or maybe a buzzer. Or get really creative and attach a piece of paper to a servo motor that will start moving when triggered

STEP 4 : Build a Prototype, Test & Evaluate, Redesign – 20 minutes

If students have not started tinkering already, get them to start building prototypes of their ideas with the bits that they have. As they work on their iterations, have them take notes on their worksheets. They may have to go through several iterations and their designs may not work perfectly. Remind them that this is a rapid prototype process and that their final invention doesn’t have to be perfect.

STEP 5 : Share Solution – 10 minutes

Have each group share their invention and about how they came up with it. Reflect as a class about what worked, what didn’t, and how they could use the design process in other areas of their lives