Donation Story: Fresh Air Fund Day

By Erin Mulcahy

littlebits workshop

On Saturday, March 15, 2014, volunteers and neighbors came together to celebrate “Fresh Air Fund Day.”  The festivities included a circuit building workshop led by a host parent, Judith Brisson, and a science teacher from the Dalton School, Glenn Simonelli.  Parents and kids worked together to experiment and build with an assortment of modules provided by littleBits.  It was so much fun to kick off our spring celebration with this littleBits workshop; hopefully more people will volunteer with the Fresh Air Fund to host a NYC child for a week or two this summer!


Participants enjoyed trying out circuit combinations and adding craft materials.


Father and daughter team Brett and Ta’lia created a castle themed birdhouse which she called, “Mickey and Minnie’s Mansion.” At the entrace of the mansion is a pipe-cleaner with a happy face bead that pops out of the door to welcome visitors who press the doorbell.  At the top is their “entertainment,” which consists of a DC motor with a foam ball and feathers illuminated by a UV LED. She colored the foam ball with a yellow highlighter, so it glows bright in the UV light.  Her circuit included power + dimmer + wire + DC motor + UV LED.  Check out the video below to see the masterpiece in action. During the workshop, Ta’lia also had time to construct a prank handshake and a motion detector circuit that sounded off a buzzer and lit up some LED modules.


Wesley equipped a birdhouse with a fire/intruder alarm. When the circuit detects motion, the lights go on in the house and a buzzer sounds an alarm to alert the authorities. His circuit was created by snapping together power + motion trigger + buzzer + wire + bargraph + LED.  Wesley also made a graphical user interface with his smartphone to simulate a touch-pad for the alarm system – so cool! See the creation in the video below.


Everyone had a lot of fun building circuits, even without prior experience. Visit to learn more about how to help NYC kids enjoy summer. I’d like to give a big shout out to littleBits for their generous donation of modules; our visiting kids this summer will certainly ENJOY! A last minute surprise was that RadioShack donated 9 volt batteries – thank you! Finally, thanks to Instructables and to all who voted for this ‘ible and to our volunteer science teacher for the day, Glenn. 

– Judith




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