Encouraging engineers with LittleBits
24th February 2016
LittleBits toys is high up on my wish list after reading an interview with its inspiring founder, Ayah Bdeir, and I can’t wait to get my hands on a LittleBits set. I know the eldest Charlie and the Pirates would be eager to give it a whirl and make something (she is fixed on being a racing car engineer when she grows up!).
LittleBits is a collection of snap-together bricks, modules or ‘bits; that have different functions. There are power pieces, switches, sound detecting buzzers, lights as well as other things (or bits!). You can get big sets (gyzmos and gadgets), starter sets or synth sets. Each box come with design instructions and project ideas. However, the aim of this toy is to design whatever you like and to encourage kids to build and invent things that inspire them. You get simple ideas as well as complex projects in each booklet included if your kids prefer the Lego approach to building.
It does say the sets are for kids over 8 (and adult kids too), however, I have read in a few places that it can be used by younger kids under guidance. For example, the simplest projects all follow the same colour pattern to do all different types of tasks. Also, it looks like it doesn’t matter if you don’t follow everything to the letter because you can change your ideas throughout your project. Just make sure you have enough power sources for all the kids playing!
Creator of LittleBits, Bdeir admits it has a challenge for the company to remain gender neutral, which is something close to her heart as she is a female engineer. She has deliberately made the colours and designs inclusive for boys and girls. She wants to see more girls in technology and believes gender-neutral products are a way to encourage this and I totally agree. Interestingly in a recent article Bdeir said that feedback from teachers is that the gender-neutral products are working as more girls are engaging, but at the same time boys are not being put off. It is also great to have a product that has been adapted for younger audiences away from pure ‘techy’ peeps. So bring on the beautiful circuits and encourage both boys and girls to grasp technology.
However, I have to warn you the kits are not cheap (small understatement), the Gizmos and Gadget kit is a whopping £199 (I think it is about the same in US $) and the base kit is £79.99. There are loads of kits and smaller packs but these are the obvious starting points.