A civil rights activist and leader of the movement to end racial segregation in the United States, Martin Luther King Jr. is well-remembered for his famous “I Have A Dream” speech. So in honor of MLK Day today, we wanted to take a moment to recognize all of the dreamers out there.
To be a “dreamer” is to envision a future that is different from the reality of today; to remove limitations and expand your mind to many possibilities. A dreamer could be a connector, an inventor, a maker, a creator, or a changemaker. And in a more literal sense, a dreamer could even be someone whose mind imagines what “could be” in their sleep.
At littleBits, we know a lot of dreamers. We are privileged to watch them create and invent every day, and we want to honor some of them now!
Inventors Who Had a Dream (Really!)
Did you know that Albert Einstein dreamed the Theory of Relativity when he was just a teenager?
One night he had a dream that a group of cows were standing at an electric fence and a farmer suddenly switched the fence on. Einstein saw all of the cows jump backwards at the same time in his dream, but the farmer (who had been standing at the other side of the field in the dream) said that he saw the cows jump backward one by one.
When he woke up, Einstein thought about this for a long time and realized that events look different depending on where you’re standing because of the time it takes the light to reach your eyes — the Theory of Relativity.
Rene Descartes (“I think, therefore, I am”) invented the scientific method through a series of dreams.
In the dreams, he found himself caught inside a whirlwind; then he was being pursued by a group of ghosts; then he was craving exotic types of melon. He was then taken into a room that tried to set him on fire with red-hot sparks and deafen him with near-constant thunderclaps.
He finally escaped into a peaceful room with a book in it. In the book, there was a single line, which said: “What path shall I take in life?” Then a man appeared next to him and said, “Yes and no.” Believe it or not, this was the beginning of the scientific method.
Inventors Who Want to Wake Us Up
Not all inventors dreamed their inventions in sleep. Samantha and Danny are dreamers who invented the “wake-up watch” to help wake people up! The wake-up watch is a slick piece of wearable technology that vibrates when the sun rises to help wake up the wearer. Check it out.
Along the same lines, here’s a cloud-connected circuit that automatically opens up your curtains and plays a wake up sound every morning at sunrise (or other time of your choosing).
Inventions That Encourage Us to Take Action
Whether you’ve invented a world-changing theory, or invented a device to help wake people up, it’s fun to see how — and why — inventors and dreamers take action. For example, during one school’s day-long Martin Luther King Jr. celebration, students talked about what they “stand for” and what they “move for.” They discussed and created signs, using littleBits. Then the entire school had a march around campus.
The bottom line? There are a lot of projects and inventions that kids (and adults!) can make to change the world — or even someone’s day. Whether these involve building something that moves, or even creating something that moves us, all of these inventions have an impact.
What better day to celebrate this impact than on MLK Day? Martin Luther King Jr. encouraged us to not underestimate our impact on the world, to contribute what we can, when we can, and to be confident in who we are.
Are you looking for other activities that you can do on MLK Day? Check out some ideas — like an “I Have a Dream” Mobile or making a musical pop art portrait — here.