How to Host a littleBits Make-a-thon


How to host a littleBits

Host a weekend long event around an interesting theme and introduce your community to open hardware and prototyping.

Place: A makerspace, school or flexible space so people can work in teams and present their work. The space should have wi-fi if you are using the cloudBit.
Level: Beginner to Advanced
Time: 1-2 days
People: 30 – 200 participants
Recommended:
– Workshop Kit (facilitates 10 teams)
– Pro Library (facilitates 15 teams)
– 10 Student Kits (facilitates 20 people working in pairs)
– CloudBits (order extras if you are running an #IoT event)

Duration: 1-2 days

GRADE LEVEL
College/University (age 18+)
High School (ages 14-17)
Elementary (ages 8-10)
Middle School (ages 11-13)

DIFFICULTY
Advanced
Intermediate
Beginner

SUBJECT
Art/Design
Makerspace Workshops
littleBits Basics
Technology
Music

OTHER MATERIALS USED (5)
Paper 1
cardboard 1
Foam 1
wood 1
glue (try glue dots) 1

TOOLS USED
bonus points for laser
cutter!
MarkersPens & Pencils
Scissors

LESSON GUIDE

STEP 1 : Before the Event

1. Pick a Date and Location.Give yourself plenty of time and find a comfortable, flexible space. You’ll need tables and room to move around and build prototypes. Be creative – maybe try a library or a hackerspace. Ensure there is Internet, power (and power stripes if you are using the cloud) and good lighting. Bonus items; a 3D Printer or Laser Cutter.

2. Recruit a panel of speakers. Invite some inspiring super makers to kickstart your event with a talk, preferably with a littleBits demo around the theme of your event. You should ask these guests to stay for the duration of the hackathon and help give advice to teams.

3. Register your event. Choose an event platform of your choice like eventbrite or meetup.com and share in the forums so we can included in our official events calendar!

4. Choose a theme. For hackathons we recommend deciding on a theme that is relevant to your local community. Browse the Invent Anything Design Challenges or invent one by yourself. Here are some of our favorites:

Launch A Pop-Up Art Exhibition: http://discuss.littlebits.cc/t/team-up-launch-a-pop-up-art-exhibition/17949
Create A Synth Orchestra: http://discuss.littlebits.cc/t/event-idea-make-your-own-orchestra/20818
Design A Cloud-powered Museum Security System: http://discuss.littlebits.cc/t/event-idea-bitified-museum-protection-iot/20735

5. Recruit a diverse group of attendees. We know teams with mixed skill levels and interests lead to stronger projects -thematic hackathons are especially suited for this.

6. Promote and Invite. Think about your target participants. What are they interested in? How can you approach them? Make invitations tailored to their interests. Ask the participating organizations to also promote the event in their communities. You can also use splashthat to make a splash page for your hackathon and message your attendees the theme in advance to get them all excited. Whatever you do, make sure to tweet @littlebits #inventanything so we can help you promote it as well.

7. Get Volunteers to Help you! This will be especially helpful if you are anticipating large numbers. Don’t get an army though because it will be hard to manage, unless you have a dedicated member of your crew as a volunteer lead. Make sure to brief volunteers about the event flow and train them on how to use littleBits.

8. Code of Conduct. For such a large event we recommend encouraging your participants to follow a code of conduct! Nobody wants to hang out with jerks anyway. Here is the littleBits Community Code of Conduct, that you can use as you see fit: http://discuss.littlebits.cc/t/code-of-conduct/20756

9. Set Up. Get on those color-coding skills of yours and set your bits nicely on a designated station. We also recommend distributing your materials in each table and having a dedicated spot for tools like glue guns and exacto knives. If you are using cloudbits, check wifi and setup the cloudBits beforehand. We recommend having one cloud control account for all the cloudBits. This way you can keep track of them and delete them from the account after the event.

STEP 2 : Start the day with the speakers panel (45 minutes).

How to host a littleBits1

Allow for Q&A from the audience but stay on schedule so people can start hacking.

STEP 3 : Run A Quick Demo.

Show your crew a video to inspire them about what they can invent with littleBits. Demo modules that might be useful for the design challenge especially if you are using the cloud or arduino bits. Remember to keep this short and sweet so you can move to people playing with the bits (a.k.a step 4).

STEP 4 : Play An IceBreaker

Ask people to share their bit spirit animal or play a game like Turtle Wushu (with bits instead of turtles ;)) This activities will help participants to get to know each other. Once you are done break people in groups!

STEP 5 : Divide People In Teams

How to host a littleBits2

Sometimes it’s best for people to form teams at the event so they get to meet new collaborators other times people prefer to bring their own squad, especially if they have to make something incredibly ambitious as a project. As a rule of thumb avoid teams larger than 5 people.

STEP 6 : Start Making!

How to host a littleBits3

Make sure you check in with your participants in case they get stuck and give them clear goals on what to make as well as time-checks. Point participants to littlebits.cc/projects and littlebits.cc/tips-tricks for ideas and tips.

STEP 7 : Take A Playtest Break

How to host a littleBits4

Make sure you allow for some time during your workshop for people to share their work in progress, play each others project and exchange feedback. This step works wonders with pizza or snacks.

STEP 8 : Polish & Document.

How to host a littleBits5

Allow plenty of time for participants to polish their creations and set up a little spot with good lighting for them to document their masterpieces.

STEP 9 : Upload Your Creations On the Project Page!

How to host a littleBits6

Whatever you do, make sure to have bitsters add their creations to littlebits.cc/projects . Because sharing is caring. And there are always other cool makers from around the world for bit’sters to meet that can give them feedback after the workshop is over. Photos, video and steps give projects the chance to get featured on the Community Hall of Fame and reach bitster celebrity status.

STEP 10 : Show and Tell!

How to host a littleBits7

A great way to end your event by having bitsters share what they made and give each other feedback. Facilitate the conversation by asking their peers to share on green post-its what works, on red post-its what is confusing and on yellow post-its suggestions for improvement.

STEP 11 : Get social!

How to host a littleBit8

Share on twitter using the #InventAnything hashtag to tell us how your meetup went. Share photos & links to your creations. We love hearing your stories!