Fun, educational blocks which educate on the fundamentals of electronics without swamping young minds minutia of electrical theory. That is the very core of what littleBits offers with their sensational range of products.
But what is littleBits? They are little color-coded bits of electronic circuitry that magnetically snap together to form complete circuits. The 4 unique colors of the modules tie the blocks to their purpose:
- Blue for power modules there are a few different types but typically we like to use the 9v battery p1 Bit.
- Pink for input sensors. These modules directly affect the modules placed after them, think of switches, light sensors, and the rest.
- Orange for wire modules. These bits enabling your board of magnetically connected modules to reach a little further or even just do something a little differently. For example, invert the logic of your bits or split your single wire into multiples.
- Green for output modules. These modules do something like buzz, move or light up, we call them Output bits because they are the part of the circuit that actually does a physical thing.
We say the modules snap together easily, but magnets being magnets have to be oriented correctly. The modules all have little arrows printed on their surfaces and small circular feet on their underside. When you think about it, it’s intuitive, as electricity can be seen as having a flow direction too, so indirectly you are learning the basics of polarity from the get go.
So that’s the basics of littleBits, it's everything you need to get started inventing right now. There are over 60 different modules you can purchase separately, but the kits are where the value truly lies. The kits combine the modules that work well together and pair them with supporting guides, projects and lessons!
Currently, littleBits offers a broad range of kits, covering all the different environments a young mind would want to interface with. From Basic LEDS and motors all the way through to Cloud Control and Arduino Bits, littleBits is on the leading edge of innovation in this field:
- The Arduino Kit - 8 Bits, including the Arduino bit and USB cable.
- The Rule your Room Kit - 7 Bits, including the Makey Makey Bit for easy interaction with the world around you! This kit also has a selection of accessory components for mounting and housing your inventions.
The Synth Kit - 11 Bits, littleBits collaborated with world renown experts KORG for this kit and it's a true hit for all young muso's out there.
- The Gizmos & Gadgets Kit - 2nd Edition - 13 Bits, this is one of our favorite kits for a young mind to truly immerse themselves into littleBits. The new and improved v2 module includes 2 BLE Bits that can connect to your Smart Phone or tablet, allowing you to control your invention via the free littleBits App.
- The Smart Home Kit - 14 Bits, this kit includes the CloudBit which is integral in connecting your existing inventions up to the cloud and turning your everyday appliances into smart appliances. Cool!
- The Workshop Kit - 100 Bits! This kit is the best choice for the community classes, and chapters looking to run workshops for up to 20 people at a time. This kit will come with lessons, guides and a ton of accessories and components for plenty of innovative fun.
All the kits come with pre-planned projects that are documented in the included booklet. It’s great for beginners but it’s almost a useless metric to judge the kits...once you are sitting down with a kit you will realize how endless the combinations are.
Here at Core Electronics we are a littleBits chapter, hosting workshops a few times a month for you and your young ones to come and check out the
The community behind littleBits is as impressive as the product is simple. You get the typical support we’ve all come to expect of tech companies (forum, blog, email support). Where it really starts to diverge from the norm is the bitLab, Projects, Monthly Challenges and Local Chapters initiatives.
BitLab is the online Kickstarter-style marketplace targeted purely toward further innovation with future littleBits products. If you dream up a great new idea for the littleBits team, you can submit your idea. If your idea makes it through the Review stage, it will be featured in BitLab as a module that littleBits will produce. Pretty awesome idea hey? Just recently the Makey-Makey LittleBits module was processed through bitLabs and now you can purchase them as part of their modules in the shop!
LittleBits projects are a major part of the platform, with over 3000 projects (and counting) contributed by the community to share awesome ideas around. You specify the products you own as part of the search function on the littleBits project module, displaying only the projects you can get started on right away. A generally awesome addition to an already awesome product. Keep this all in mind when you get your kit, as once you complete the 10 odd projects that come with your kit the possibilities just begin to open up entirely!
Monthly challenges are a great STEM concept delivered via the free App for iOS and Android. Each month littleBits sets a project problem with a theme and you do your best to solve it with your littleBits. The winners of the competitions get bragging rights and some nice swag sent their way. Just recently the Bit Olympics of 2016 were held and the judging is taking place now. The challenge was to create an Olympics-inspired event and film it in action. The judging is taking place at the moment with some entries being submitted. Check out the Boxing entry, I thought it was pretty crafty.
Littlebits is a whole heap more than just a bunch of easy to use electronics modules, it is an entire platform targeted at empowering young minds to develop creative confidence and an intuitive STEM skill set. We love littleBits and the fantastic ecosystem they have developed to encourage critical thinking. They allow children to see and feel how easy electronics is! You can get any of the littleBits gear you might want from us in Australia, if there's a part or kit you can't find on our website, as usual, get in touch with us, we're here to help!