Get to Know the littleBits: Make Something that Does Something Challenge!

Get to Know the littleBits

Lesson Overview: This lesson will use students’ innate creativity merged with hands-on experiences in circuitry. The purpose of this lesson is to ignite the creative spark within students while introducing basic circuitry and electronic terms.

Lesson Objectives: Students will learn circuitry terms and will connect the terms to the littleBits using examples, will make and present a variety of littleBits creations under the guidance of the facilitator through increasingly more difficult challenges, and will finally discuss their questions and discoveries made at the conclusion of the activity.

Assessment Strategies: Formative: Student is engaged throughout lesson, contributes in discussion, follows along in building process, uses newfound experiences to shape further circuits built.

Summative: Student successfully builds a 2-bit, 3-bit, 4-bit, and 5-bit circuit using littleBits which effectively “does something”. Student explains thinking in each circuit. Student can explain in their own words what input, output, and power means.

Key Vocabulary:·

· Input- a device through which energy or information enters a system

· Output- a place where energy or information leaves a system

· Wire- allows current to flow from one place to another

· Power- the electrical energy supplied

· Circuit- path that electrons travel between 2 points

LED- light emitting diode

LED- light emitting diode
Standards: S8P5b, CCSSELA RST6-8.3

Duration: 45 minutes

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


General Education
littleBits Basics
Makerspace Workshops

fan (1)
buzzer (1)
bend sensor (1)
button (1)
power (4)
led (4)
pressure sensor (1)
servo (1)
sound trigger (1)
light wire (1)
bright led (1)

Whiteboard 1



STEP 1 : Before the Lesson

Get to Know the littleBits1
Example of Terms

Using your large Post-it or whiteboard, write the following definitions: • Circuit: Path that electrons travel between two points • Input: a device through which energy or information enters a system • Output: a device through which energy or information leaves a system • Power: the electrical energy supplied • OPTIONAL* Wire: a device that allows energy to flow from one place to another. I used these colors to write the definitions: pink for input, green for output,and blue for power. “Circuit” can be in any color, so long as it differs from the colors listed here. Wire/logic bits are optional as they are for intermediate/advanced creations, but can be used in the lesson if the facilitator desires. *Why color-code? Because the littleBits themselves are color-coded in this manner. Pink bits are inputs, green bits are outputs, etc. This will help build the connection between terms and the littlbits’ function in a circuit.

STEP 2 : Featured bit: LED

Get to Know the littleBits2
Featured littleBits

This lesson’s featured bit will be the LED bit (o1). I chose this bit because it is a basic bit- both straightforward and easy to connect. Have readily available 9volt batteries, power connectors (p1), and LED bits out on tables. Have students gather at tinkerlab or workspace tables. Distribute these littleBits to students or student teams.

STEP 3 : What is an LED?

Explain that this bit is called an “LED” which is an acronym for light-emitting-diode. Have them practice connecting the battery to the LED bit. Ensure that each student has a chance to assemble and disassemble the bit. Ask- have you ever heard of LED’s before and if so, where? Where have you seen them? How are LED’s useful? a. Explain that LED’s are commonly being used as light bulbs now. LED’s have a much longer lifespan than traditional light bulbs, and use less energy as well.

STEP 4 : The Challenge!

Get to Know the littleBits3
example of a 4-bit creation! This invention can emit light and measure power using the LED bit and the Number bit!

Have students set down their bits. Direct their attention to your large post-it with terms defined. Review each definition with the students and explain that the colors written correlate with the function of each bit. Give examples for each term as you define them. a. For “Circuit” you may use the LEDs that the students have just built. Explain that the electrons take a path from the battery, down the wire, to the LED (where some get converted into light and heat energy), back down the wire, and finally ending back at the positive side of battery. The electrons are in high concentration on the negative side of the battery, and desire to move to an area of lesser concentration (the positive side of the battery at the end of the circuit). b. For “input” you may select any of the pink bits. The button (i3) is a great example as it controls when energy enters the system. c. For “output” you may select any of the green bits. The buzzer (o6) is a great bit to use as energy leaves the system in the form of noise. d. OPTIONAL: For “wire” you will want to keep it simple. There are logic bits that can be tricky for beginners. My advice is to use something straightforward for this example. Wire (w1) is perfect as it simply continues the path, allowing current to flow through the system. e. For “power” show the 9-volt with connecting bits, but also note the USB power adapter, cable, and connecting power bit (p3). Ask students: how does this differ? When would you use this power bit? Where is the energy coming from? 2. Place a variety of inputs (pink), outputs (green), and connection/logic bits (orange) available. 3. Instruct students to set down and disassemble their circuits leaving only the power component in their hands. The power bits include the 9-volt battery, white connecting wire, and the p1 connection bit. 4. Explain that the instructions are going to be very simple today, and that they are going to be following the instructions exactly. 5. Explain that their 9-volt, cable, and connector count as 1 bit. Encourage them to view the piece as a whole. 6. Now, with the power connection counting as 1 bit, tell them to “Make something that Does Something” using only 2 bits. This means they must find only one other bit to create a circuit. 7. When the students have each got a 2 bit circuit, go around and have students present their connections. Ask which kind of bits where used (inputs or outputs?) If outputs, how is energy leaving their system? 8. Now introduce the next challenge “Make something that does something using exactly 3 bits.” 9. Repeat previous steps, this time giving students a chance to explain the 2 other bits they chose. Ask them to identify input, outputs, or connecting bits, and how each uses energy in the system. 10. Continue on in this manner through at least 5 bits. With each new step, the students are challenged to create something unique that “does something”. They may run into issues, but this is all part of the learning process. Groups may have circuits with too many outputs, or may be perplexed to find that the inverter bit made their circuit do the opposite of what they wanted. All of these are good conversation starters to have in the discussion portion.

STEP 5 : Discussion

Close your lesson by leading an informal discussion using these jumpstarts: • What problems did you encounter as your circuit got more and more complex? • Did you use more inputs or outputs in your creation? • What would happen if we kept adding more and more bits into the system? o This is where you can discuss the inadequacy of the battery to supply enough energy to power a system so large. • What inventions can you think of that the littleBits can be used to create? • Does the littleBits system utilize a series or parallel circuit?