Educator Spotlight: Ellie Cole

By Allison Vannatta


This week our Educator Spotlight is on Ellie Cole, Curriculum Specialist for Appleton Learning, who is teaching her students how to think creatively, reason effectively, and work collaboratively with littleBits modules. We’ll be posting two awesome lessons from Ellie next week, including her Zombie Survival Challenge– stay tuned!

Tell us about your current teaching experience.

I graduated from the University of Alabama in Huntsville with a degree in English and a teaching certificate in secondary education. During my time at UA Huntsville, I realized that my dream was to make a positive impact in education beyond the confines of a classroom. As a Curriculum Specialist for Appleton Learning, I get to fulfill my dream by creating STEAM-based curriculum for our AfterSchool Labs and Summer Labs programs. 

How did you discover littleBits? What drew you to our product/company?

Honestly, I was lucky enough to discover a box of littleBits sitting on my desk one morning. When I opened the instructions and read “Make something that does something,” I was hooked, and I knew we had to use littleBits in our curriculum.

How do you use littleBits as a 21st century STEM/STEAM teaching and learning tool?

We use littleBits in our AfterSchool Labs and Summer Labs curriculum to teach students how to think creatively, reason effectively, and work collaboratively. Students use littleBits to develop solutions to real world problems, such as designing alarm systems that protect students’ prized possessions and multitasking robots that help students get more done in less time.

What is your favorite littleBits project?

My favorite littleBits project involves an overrun city, an emergency response team, and a hoard of zombies. In our Survival Challenge Summer Lab, students work together as members of an emergency response team to develop an evacuation plan for students to follow in the event of a zombie apocalypse. As part of the challenge, students use littleBits to create zombie traps that will redirect a hoard of zombies away from the predetermined evacuation route.

Describe littleBits in your own 3 words:

Innovative. Adaptable. Purposeful.

If you could challenge your students to make anything with any amount of littleBits, what would you have them create?

I think the best challenges in education are relevant to students’ lives. For that reason, I would love to see our students using littleBits to create something that would make their lives easier, happier and healthier. 

What advice can you offer teachers who are new to littleBits?

Allow students the joy of experimentation. littleBits provides a plethora of predesigned projects that students can replicate, and these projects are really helpful in demonstrating the functions of specific modules. However, if you allow students the freedom to explore littleBits, then you will see that the possibilities for creation are limitless. 

How can we find out more about your programs?

To register for AfterSchool Labs or Summer Labs, visit

For more information on Appleton Learning, visit



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