littleBits Founder Joins 60 Minutes to Discuss the “Middle School Cliff”

By Allie VanNest

60 Minutes interviewed our CEO and founder, Ayah Bdeir, as part of a larger segment to shine a light on an issue that is core to our mission: how to eradicate the gap of women (and girls) in tech.

Ayah talked to correspondent Sharyn Alfonsi about solving one of the most vexing problems in education — the “middle school cliff” when girls start to veer away from STEM-related activities.

She emphasized the need to start early — specifically between the ages of eight and 12.

“These are formative years,” Ayah said in the clip below. “They’re the years where [kids] are building their confidence, where they are building their interests in what they want to do when they grow up, where they’re visualizing what they look like when they grow up and who they want to emulate.”

Building STEAM Readiness through Failure

Ayah also explained how littleBits is specifically working to capture elementary and middle school-aged kids’ interest in STEM through arts, innovation and creativity.

“We have a four-part strategy,” Ayah explained. “Fun, creativity, confidence, and failure… we need to teach kids it’s okay to fail in the way it’s okay in Silicon Valley to fail.”

But, “why is teaching girls to fail important?”

“Somehow, we’ve made it more okay for boys and men to fail than for women and girls. A lot of times we see kids get anxious when they fail and it’s more pronounced in girls. They don’t want to mess up…and we’re here to tell them it’s okay.”

Marymount School in New York Invents with littleBits

Sharyn traveled to the Marymount School, which teaches elementary school-aged girls fundamental confidence with circuitry, technology, and engineering through littleBits.

The segment documented the contagious spirit of innovation and creativity at Marymount and even included one student, Sophie, explaining to Sharyn how she created a robot that can give you a hug on a bad day.

Below, you can find some exclusive images of Ayah visiting Marymount School to see what its young inventors are up to!

You can tune in to the full 60 Minutes episode, here.

Learn more about how Marymount School NYC has integrated littleBits into its STEAM program. Every student in grades 3 – 5 has her own kit!


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