This month, we’re taking our Educator Spotlight to Canada! Introducing Shelagh Lim, a District level teacher and Apple Distinguished Educator who is making a big splash with littleBits in her region. Stay tuned for January’s featured education project from Shelagh. Read about Shelagh’s experiences and insights below:
Tell us about your current teaching experience.
For the past five years, I have been fortunate to be one of the Curriculum Helping Teachers in the Surrey School District of British Columbia, Canada supporting Science and Information Media Literacy in our 120 school sites. Prior to this, I taught grade seven for more than 15 years. One of the best things about my job is that I get to provide unique learning experiences in numerous classes throughout the District.
How did you discover littleBits? What drew you to our product/company?
I first learned about littleBits from a colleague in a neighboring District. He had two boxes of littleBits and as soon as he shared them with me, I knew they would ignite inquiry and exploration learning in our students. I ordered my own Kits and began planning how I could get more!
How do you use littleBits as a 21st century STEM/STEAM teaching and learning tool?
When I am invited into a classroom to share littleBits, I build a buzzer circuit and hide all but the button switch up my sleeve. When I shake the teacher’s hand or give them a hug, I buzz and voilà – I’ve got the kids hooked! I have the students work in groups of four or five to explore the Bits and then I begin the lesson. Depending on the ages of the students, I have a few variations. I have shared littleBits with students as young as grade one – I call that lesson “littleBits with littleOnes” – but all ages have enjoyed the experience of working with littleBits.
What is your favorite littleBits project?
My favorite littleBits creation so far has been my Silver Christmas Tree. I had challenged a class of grade four students to create a Christmas themed project with littleBits and thought that I should make my own to show them that even adults love working and learning with littleBits. I began with a Styrofoam cone that I covered with duct tape and then cut out discs of duct tape to make the branches of the tree. Once it was finished, I inserted a K’Nex shaft through the base, used the DC Motor and Motor mate to make the tree turn. I added a Pulse and the Bargraph to make a flashing light to reflect off the duct tape. The students suggested that I add music, so for next year’s iteration I will add a Synth Kit!
Describe littleBits in your own 3 words:
Engaging, innovative and timeless. Every group that I have exposed to littleBits has been challenged, motivated to learn and creative. It doesn’t matter how old learners are, they are excited to test out their ideas using littleBits. The smiles on their faces tell it all – they love littleBits!
What advice can you offer teachers who are new to littleBits?
For teachers who are new to littleBits, I would tell them not to underestimate the importance of exploration and play. Students enjoy the challenge of learning what each Bit does through exploration and inquiry. Once they have a developed their own understanding of what is possible with littleBits, they are able to begin constructing.
Meet DJ the Disco Robot, created in one of Shelagh’s classrooms.