This week we are hitting the road with BetaVersity, which manufactures and runs BetaBox Mobile Prototyping Labs. CEO Sean Newman Maroni has been leading the operation and this week our educator spotlight shines on his work.
Tell us about your current teaching experience.
BetaVersity is an education technology startup that manufactures and operates BetaBox Mobile Prototyping Labs. These 25ft long modular facilities bring the latest rapid prototyping tools to students, wherever they are. BetaBox is rental based, which eliminated the up front capital and sustained operating expenses associated with a typical makerspace facility. BetaBox has been rented by universities like NC State, Duke, and UNC Chapel Hill among others. Recently, we have expanded to offer the BetaBox experience to K12, starting with St. Timothy’s School in Raleigh, NC.
How did you discover littleBits? What drew you to our product/company?
I first met the littleBits team at the ISTE 2014 conference in Atlanta. I was inspired by their company mission, and was genuinely enchanted by their product. We reconnected at the 2014 World Maker Faire in NYC last month. We immediately saw how littleBits could become an important part of our mobile prototyping labs, especially as we grow to serve more K12 schools.
Which product did you use and what made you decide to choose this?
We chose the Premium Kit to start. We wanted to experiment with how littleBits are used in the BetaBox. Now that we’ve seen how successful they can be, we will upgrade!
How are you using littleBits in your programs or space?
We use littleBits to introduce students to electronics when our staff runs workshops from the BetaBox. As we add more and more bits, we are eager to see how students of all ages integrate the components into their projects.
If you could challenge your students to make anything with any amount of littleBits, what would you have them create?
For us, the Proto Module offers plenty of exciting possibilities. I think that using this bit to connect to the BetaBox 3D printers would be tremendous. Perhaps a student could figure out how to control the stepper motors with the various inputs.
What advice can you offer teachers who are new to littleBits?
We found that littleBits are the perfect way to show how electrons flow through electrical systems. We’ve used them as props while communicating V = IR to middle schoolers. When students can process new information while using their hands, we’ve seen that they are both more engaged in the activity, and tend to more deeply internalize the concepts.
Every time we watch students use littleBits, they discover a configuration we have not seen before. Our tip: let students create and play!
Thanks Sean for sharing your story! If you have a spotlight you’d like to see on our blog, simply fill out this form and our education team will be in touch.