Summer camps and littleBits go together like Batman and Robin. This week we feature Jace Meyer, who is the Manager of Outreach and Training at Actua. Read more about how this STEM enthusiast is elevating her educational programs to the next level with the help of some littleBits modules.
Tell us about your current teaching experience.
My name is Jace Meyer and I am the Manager of Outreach and Training for a Canadian Not-For-Profit organization called Actua. Actua provides life-changing experiences in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) through fun, hands-on workshops, clubs, and summer camps. Each year we reach over 225, 000 youth in 500 communities through two delivery mechanisms: our network of 33 members located at post secondary institutions across the country and our Outreach Team that delivers programming in communities not yet served by our members. In my role, I am responsible for developing the curriculum for the summer camp experience our Outreach Team offers to rural, remote, and Aboriginal communities. The curriculum is designed to be hands-on, play based, and relevant to the local context and cultures of the communities we engage. Much of the emphasis is also placed on career awareness so that youth are inspired to achieve their potential and fulfill their critical role in the world.
How did you discover littleBits? What drew you to our product/company?
I first found littleBits on twitter (my favorite place for curriculum inspiration). I was immediately drawn to the snap and build approach that makes learning how to build circuits so easy especially for small fingers and those still building their fine motor skills. The aesthetics of littleBits is my favorite – the color choice, use of graphics, and overall feel help reinforce how approachable, simple, and fun this can be as a tool to teach about electricity, circuits, and STEM in general.
How do you use littleBits as a 21st century STEM/STEAM teaching and learning tool?
The camp Actua is designing this year is a Mining and related careers themed camp. Youth in these camps will design and prototype safety gear that could be used by miners in their community. The youth will have the opportunity to present their safety innovation ideas to people working in the mining sector in order to get feedback on their littleBits design and help reinforce how technology can help keep us safe.
In previous camp years, youth designed their own robots that could help them complete a task that matters to them. A great sample was the “Himom-bot” a robot designed by one camper to send sweet little messages to her mom.
What is your favorite littleBits project?
I’m not sure it’s possible to have a favorite given the endless possibilities this tool allows for. What I love most is that youth can design and build anything.
Describe littleBits in your own 3 words:
Fun. Easy. Effective.
If you could challenge your students to make anything with any amount of littleBits, what would you have them create?
It would be fantastic if they could create a color-sorting robot so we can easily sort all of our pieces after all of our projects (just think: littleBits, LEGO, NXT robots, crayons)!
What advice can you offer teachers who are new to littleBits?
Dig in! The best part about littleBits is how accessible they are – even for the first time user. If you prefer to learn by doing than you’re going to love them, and if you prefer to learn by reading, or sharing with others than the online educator community is the perfect place to share, learn, and do with others.
Where can we find out more information about your organization?
Actua and its 33 members offer programming in every province and territory across Canada. For more information about Actua and where to find an Actua program you can visit: www.actua.ca