Educator Spotlight: Michael Wilkinson

By Erin Mulcahy

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We here at littleBits love working with creative, inspiring teachers and Michael Wilkinson is one of our superstars. You can check out his littleBits projects & lessons and learn more about his passion for teaching below:

Tell us about your current position: Where do you teach? What grade/s and subject do you teach?

I teach 3-5th grade Math and Science at a private independent school in the Bronx.

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

I was introduced through a teacher meetup (Educator Discovery Workshop). After playing with the materials, I immediately recognized their potential as an “organic” classroom supply that is infinitely reconfigurable to meet whatever engineering needs of the students. I was also very much drawn to the gender neutral presentation.

If it is relevant to your teaching, please describe how you are using littleBits as a 21st century STEM/STEAM teaching and learning tool.

My students employ littleBits in many of their science labs. They use the Bits modules to construct various apparatus to test their hypotheses. They have also integrated them in more artistic constructions, giving motion, light or sound to their sculptures. I have also used the modules to teach the concepts of basic circuitry and as analogs to human nervous and sensory systems.

What is your favorite littleBits project?
Any of the projects created by my students: BeeVision, SeedSpinner, and their current work manipulating the color of light, exploring the electromagnetic spectrum and it’s relationship to photosynthesis (project will be posted soon!).

Please select 3 words that describe littleBits.

Organic, flexible, accessible.

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

Engineer a solution to a real-life problem.

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

Take risks, try things. Create an atmosphere where making mistakes is safe and part of the process. Be sure to give students plenty of time for open-ended exploration. That’s when the really meaningful learning happens. I hold optional weekly STEAM Salons the half-hour before school for students to work with littleBits.

Do you have a personal or any inspiring, informational resources you’d like to share?

NASA (Michael is an educational consultant to NASA Education)
My students’ blog and their Twitter @mwmathsci
My blog and Twitter @mwilkinson3

 What is your favorite Bit module?

At present, I’d say the RGB LED Bit and the work my students have been doing with it.


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