Bitwars -- and a bit of war and peace

Hi guys! Sparklelab (Philippines) hosted a bunch of Bitwars events in November and December. Sharing some photos and stories with you :smile:

We kicked off creating DIY lightsabers (initially with flashlights, LEDs and PVC pipes – then later with Little Bits)

The kids also did quite a bit of cardboarding, paper mache, painting and stitching – before incorporating Little Bits to their creations.

On December 19th, we hosted a Bitwars event focusing on a peace education-conflict resolution- social justice curriculum. About 20 kids attended the event and it went great!

The kids teamed up and formed 2 groups: Jedi and allies of the Light side of the force; Sith and allies of the Dark Side of the Force. The kids were given Lego’s, K’Nex, Little Bits and 90 minutes to create the planets and realms they would call home. They were also invited to create flags, flora and fauna, peoples, customs, rituals…Anything they wished. These are the worlds they imagined:

LIGHT SIDE OF THE FORCE: Created a utopia, full of bunnies and carrots and waterfalls and stars, and many fluffy things. Yoda was reincarnated as a green bunny bot with one eye. Citizens revered the great white bunny and the great white carrot and lived peacefully, one with nature and one with cute, fluffy things.

DARK SIDE OF THE FORCE: Created a world by the water. The planet had defenses in the form of an energy shield;produced its own power; created an army and combat vehicles. They proudly showed their flag, which whirled powered by the Dark Side of the Force and a Little Bits fan.

The kids then had an Intergalactic Tour and visited each others’ worlds – listened to each others’ presentations and asked questions about the lands they visited; the people who inhabited the lands; customs, traditions; purpose.

Then the Light Side of the Force stayed in the land of the Dark Side of the Force – while those from the land of the Dark Side of the Force stayed in the land of the Light Side of the Force. They were given 1 minute to visit the land unguided and do whatever they wanted.

The members of the Light Side of the Force started adding on to and improving the land of the Dark Side of the Force. But then the kids realized that those of the Dark Side of the Force were ruining their land, tearing up their drawings, destroying their Lego structures and rabbits and Little Bits circuits. So then the Light Side of the Force tore apart the land of the Dark Side of the Force: Legos, Little Bits, K’nex and all.

After 1 minute, I asked the kids to return to their homelands and rebuild. Some tried, others refused, saying it would be impossible. The kids felt really bad.

We had a 45 minute debrief (no photos – unfortunately – but we did record videos). And some things that came up were:
– It was fun imagining their planets. They worked really hard.
– What took 90 minutes to create was destroyed in 60 seconds. It’s so much easier to destroy than it is to create.
– You can never get back what is destroyed. Not in the same way.
– It’s hard to create a country or a civilization. It takes years and years. Like Syria, for example. Then bad people do bad things to good countries and good people. Like what ISIS does. People are hurt. Then the good guys like the US try to help but all they do is destroy, too.
– You always think you are the Light Side of the Force. The Dark Side thinks they are the good ones, too. But they are not much different. They hurt people.
– Everyone loses in war. Everyone becomes mean in war.
– We were honestly trying to improve your land but when we saw you destroy ours, we destroyed yours, too. It’s revenge.
– I feel bad for what I did.
– What I did was okay because it’s just a game and no people were really hurt.
– There will always be war because adults behave like this but for real.
– Maybe countries can focus not on war but activities like cooperation.
– Like playing games together. But not Cards Against Humanity.

All in all, the kids did a great job and they learned a lot. To happy the mood and lift their spirits, we then created Light Sabers, R2D2, Steampunk C3P0 and storyboards for the film and lots of funny commercials like Chewbacca Shampoo.

We were really pressed for time but I’m glad we got to do this activity with the kids. With everything going on in the world right now, I couldn’t as an educator pass up the opportunity to use things the kids love – like Star Wars and Little Bits – in a way that would deepen their understanding of the world around them; act and question their actions and intentions; reflect on their inherent power to create and to destroy; to cause suffering and to heal. I deign to hope that this somehow informs their actions now and in the future – and that they remember that building worlds with structures and tech is always best when relationships are likewise built with compassion and humanity.

Happy holidays from us to all of you!

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