Education: Harnessing the Power of The bitLab

By Erin Mulcahy

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The bitLab was launched this week to further our mission of putting the power of electronics into the hands of everyone, and in turn creating the most versatile physical/digital invention platform in the world. It’s a bold goal, and one we are proud to share with the world.

Beyond the mainstream marketplace, we believe there’s huge potential for the bitLab in education: from ideation, to creation and the application of these crowd sourced modules in educational settings. Learn more about the possibilities below; we hope you are excited as we are!

Make a module: bitLab as a learning platform

The time and knowledge it takes to translate an idea to a prototype and to a product can be daunting, expensive and limited to those with advanced engineering knowledge. Now, this process is much more accessible.

The bitLab is empowering you, as educators and students, to make what drives you. Whether it be a module that betters your life or fills a gap that will bring your lessons or research to the next level. The creation of user-generated hardware stems from a need for user-specific solutions; the potentials for education are limitless.

This platform opens up the opportunity for the littleBits system to grow with your students. Imagine introducing littleBits in an elementary classroom, then teaching programming with the Arduino at Heart module in middle school, and later providing students with a platform to expand their interest in and knowledge of electronics by empowering them to create their own piece of the littleBits library. Designing a module could be a student’s term project or the final assignment for a college electronics or design class.

Creating a module also ties into lessons in drawing circuit diagrams and soldering, wiring and programming. We’d love to see what lessons you develop on this topic by sharing your experiences on our education page. To get started with module making, check out our new Hardware Developer Kit (HDK), which contains all of the pieces (proto, perf and bitSnaps) you need to get started. Tips and tricks for using these new components are also available on our blog.


Vote for developer modules

For students and teachers who are yet to dive into electrical engineering, this is a great place to start. Modules must receive 1,000 votes to enter review by our littleBits team. You can help move these modules closer to this goal by sharing on social media and spreading the word through your educator networks.

The three modules that were opened for voting this week all have exciting potentials for education. The EMG SpikerBox from Backyard Brains can be used to enhance your neuroscience experiments by detecting the electrical activity of human muscles non-invasively using simple skin surface electrodes. The Bleep Drum, which is a lo-fi Arduino drum machine, could be the perfect addition to your Synth Kits in music class. Lastly, the Oscilloscope is a handheld teaching tool that is great for visualizing what’s happening to the voltage running through your circuit as you introduce different inputs and outputs.

Vote on your favorites to help make these a reality!

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Application of bitLab modules in education

Once modules have passed through the review process, manufacturing begins. When we opened the bitLab, two modules had entered the production stage: The Makey Makey module and the Touch Sensor from Bare Conductive, which you can reserve today!

These two modules open the door to new ways in which you can combine your littleBits library with other tools you are currently using in the classroom or makerspace. This is only the beginning and we’re excited to see what other collaborations emerge that will bolster your teaching and learning experiences.

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Dare to dream

Feeling inspired? Our dreamBits page is a place to let your imagination run wild. If you have a Bit module you’d love to see made, but don’t have the expertise or time to make one, this is a great place to have your ideas be heard. After you complete a lesson, the dreamBits page can be used as part of the reflection exercise (ex. what module would you need to improve x functionality in your experimental apparatus?). You might just see your dreams become a reality; all powered through the bitLab.

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The future is now

No matter what level of participation you have in this process, we’re excited for you and your students to unleash the power of the littleBits library and make it your own. Here’s to making the future; let’s get started.



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