Educator Spotlight: Scott Cleveland

By Adam Skobodzinski

This week’s Educator Spotlight shines on Scott Cleveland, a fifth grade teacher in Elsberry, Missouri. His students recently competed at the St. Louis Science Center for the Mars Rover Battle of the Best competition, sponsored by Journey to Space and littleBits. Check out their creations and experiences below.


Tell us about your current teaching experience.
I have taught for 18 years in the same school district. I started teaching as the county’s first computer teacher. I taught K-6 grade students the basics of computers and how to use them. I still remember in my interview, the superintendent asked me if I was going to have the kids playing games on “those things.” How times have changed! I then moved to the gifted program, which was K-8 grade. During that time I started working with LEGO Mindstorm robots and digital video editing. I moved to fifth grade when the gifted position became part time. I love working with this age group because of their creativity and eagerness to learn.


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

I was able to take our fifth graders on a field trip to the St. Louis Science Center. While we were there, we saw Journey to Space in the Omnimax theater. I received an email inviting the students to draw a rover that they could possible build. Lo and behold, my students won! To bring their rovers to life, littleBits sent us Space Kits to incorporate into the models. I have been working with the modules ever since. I love how complex the product is, yet it’s easy to use and understand. I just put in an order for more Kits, so I can provide the students with new challenges this summer.

Check out the winning rover drafts and resulting models below:

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Which product did you use and what made you decide to choose this?

I have used LEGO and K’NEX for a long time; LEGO bricks are so familiar to students. We start designing with LEGO and move into Mindstorms, so they can practice programming and see their creation come to life. We use to introduce students to programming; those skills can carry over into physical computing with LEGO and littleBits.

How are you using littleBits in your programs or space?

I just received our newest shipment of littleBits last weekend. Our school year ends in two days, but I am also teaching summer school and plan on having my students bring their artwork to life, just like we did with the Mars Rovers. I am looking at different websites to get ideas on how to integrate the littleBits modules into the classroom to maximum the use of these powerful teaching tools.

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

As they say, the possibilities are endless. Next year I plan on having the students create a character out of a book we read called Zorgamazoo. They will need to use littleBits to bring that character to life; the motors, lights, and sensors will help their creations be more than just a drawing.

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

Being new myself, I take the philosophy of diving right in. Don’t be afraid of what you don’t know; figure it out. Ask questions and go online to find the answers. There are so many resource available to teachers; don’t short change the students. I have started to see what I can build, it’s all about imagination. littleBits is such an intuitive product – the day after we received them, I had some kids inside during recess who were curious to know how all the parts worked. They went to town connecting things and figured out the logic and functionality of the pieces, without any guidance. As a teacher, this is how I know that we need to use this product to it fullest potential in our classrooms.

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Thanks Scott for sharing your story.


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