How to Run a littleBits Design Challenge Workshop


How to Run a littleBits Design Challenge

This lesson is an outline of our process for running littleBits workshops. See the attached “littleBit Workshop Guide” for more complete information on running a workshop. Also see the PDF entitled “littleBits Resource Links” for a 1-stop resource page with links to all things littleBits. Design Challenge Workshops are great for experienced makers. If you have 2+ hours and a location conducive to making (ie: makerspace, fab lab, design studio), you may want to go this route. You will need to provide enough modules (hint: don’t skimp on the wires) to engage your higher-level makers. Choose a variety and make sure to include modules like Arduino, cloudBit, and logic for more complex circuit building and design interactions. You will also want to provide an array of accessories, materials and tools to help your participants get the most out of the workshop. *The Pro Library [http://littlebits.cc/collections/pro-library] is a great collection of modules for hosting this type of workshop. With 264 modules, it’s optimal for large makerspaces, design agencies, engineering firms, or anyone looking for professional grade electronics prototyping. It includes 4 of every module, plus additional power supplies to accommodate up to 32 people at once. Choose a theme and work through a design process from problem to solution using littleBits. littleBits is a great tool for rapid prototyping and iterating circuits. When choosing a theme, make sure it is open ended, but also provides structure. Some examples include designing internet-connected wearable devices, creating projects that promote energy awareness, or designing prototypes/interactions for a future Mars rover. When you are done, document your project/process and share with the littleBits’ community.
Workshop Characteristics: • Open-ended goal • Design process – brainstorming/problem solving/critical thinking • Prototyping and iteration • Team-based

Duration: 2 hours

GRADE LEVEL
Elementary (ages 8-10)
Middle School (ages 11-13)

DIFFICULTY
Beginner

SUBJECT
littleBits Basics
Makerspace Workshops
Engineering
Art/Design

MODULES & ACCESSORIES USED (19)
fan (1)
slide dimmer (1)
roller switch (1)
branch (1)
dc motor (1)
buzzer (1)
long led (1)
light sensor (1)
bargraph (1)
button (1)
dimmer (1)
power (1)
pulse (1)
vibration motor (1)
pressure sensor (1)
servo (1)
sound trigger (1)
bright led (1)
wire (1)

LESSON GUIDE

STEP 1 : INTRODUCTION [10 min]

Meet and Greet Have people introduce themselves and talk to one another.

Introduce littleBits! littleBits is the easiest and most extensive way to learn and prototype with electronics. We are making hardware limitless with our ever-growing library of electronic modules, ranging from the very simple (power, sensors, LED) to the very complex (wireless, programmable).

STEP 2 : DEMO [15 min]

How to Run a littleBits Design Challenge1

Go over the littleBits basics [color code, magnets, reconfigurability]. Demo how each module works, specifically the more complex ones. Be quick, but thorough. Keep the dialogue open for questions.

The Color Code
Modules are grouped into 4 different categories, which are color coded:

POWER is needed in every circuit and is the start of all your creations.
INPUT modules accept input from you and the environment and send signals to the modules that follow.
OUTPUT modules DO something–light, buzz, move…
WIRES modules expand your reach and change direction–great for helping to incorporate modules into your projects.

Order is Important
Power modules always come first and input modules only affect the output modules that come after them.

STEP 3 : DESIGN CHALLENGE [15 min]

Present a design brief related to your theme and talk about the schedule for the remainder of the workshop.

Show relevant projects (could be littleBits or other) related to theme for inspiration.

Pose questions and create prompts to get people thinking and ideation

STEP 4 : EXPLORE [15 min]

How to Run a littleBits Design Challenge2

If planning to have people split up into teams, do this now.Then have participants explore the functionality of the modules on their own.

STEP 5 : BRAINSTORM, PLAN & SKETCH [15 min]

How to Run a littleBits Design Challenge3

Have participants sketch and write out ideas on a sheet of paper. Ask them to think about how their ideas fit into the parameters of the design challenge and how they plan to incorporate the modules. Brainstorming is often very successful when you group participants together. This way they can bounce ideas off of one another. Assist participants as needed – answer questions and provide guidance.

STEP 6 : PROTOTYPE [1 hr]

Start making! Experiment with circuitry and think about how you would combine the modules with other materials. Build some quick prototypes to test out your ideas.

Have participants document their process as they build (photos, videos, written notes, etc…)

STEP 7 : CHECK IN

Halfway through the build portion of the workshop, make sure to update participants with the time and check in to make sure the everyone is on track. Provide feedback on the circuit, the design, and how it relates to the theme.

STEP 8 : ITERATE [1 hour]

How to Run a littleBits Design Challenge4

Participants should further explore the functionality of their creation, work out any kinks and make improvements.

STEP 9 : DEMO AND SHARE [30 min]

Have your participants share their creations with the rest of the group. Encourage a discussion on the functionality of what was built and the challenges faced during the iteration portion of the workshop.

As the workshop leader, you can pose these types of questions:

• What was your design challenge?
• How many times did you iterate?
• What did you design?
• What modules did you use and how does it work?
• What was the most challenging part of your design process? • Where is the science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) component in the product you created?
• What module would you add to change or enhance your creation?

STEP 10 : DOCUMENT! [30 min]

Take photos/videos of the final project. We encourage you to share the work online by submitting to the littleBits’ projects page – it’s a great way to promote your program and to let your participants’ efforts shine. Add instructions, bits, materials, and process photos so other can see how the project was made.