May 27, 2015 Community Call: Curriculum Design

Last month’s Community Call with all of you was truly epic! Thanks again to the artistic @Maria_who, colorful Gabi Agustini and the ultimate bus driver you wish you had @MakerMark, for sharing their work with the rest of us-- we learned so much from you.

Things have been buzzing lately at littleBits HQ. We’ve seen some great things in the forums from the Community, including a discussion on puppeteering by @Kiwi_Fox, a Make it Dance design challenge and @chris101, who’s working on creating a Purple People Counter (CO2 sensor).

We have also seen a lot of great new module ideas from the bitLab, including and LFO bit and NFC bit from @Philip_Verbeek.

Chapters are growing fast as well and we now have nearly 90 Chapters in 33 countries around the world! Congratulations to those of you who have put on events this past month. We’ve seen wonderful photos from our Chapters in Sao Paulo, Staten Island, Belgrade and Stockholm. Because the events have been so successful, we’ve decided to extend the dance party to let others join in on the fun-- Make Music May will extend into June! Dance away :dancer:, as you continue planning and hosting your events. And make sure you take lots of photos.

…. back to May’s Community Call. With so many new community members joining the call, it’s guaranteed to be a bonanza.

WHEN: May 27, 2015 at from 12:00pm - 1:00pm (EST, that’s NYC time).


Login instructions:

  1. Sign into your Google Plus account.
  2. It’s important to make sure that you have a reliable internet connection, camera and microphone.
  3. Arrive10-minutes early to the call, in case any technical issues arise.

WHO: We’ll have Logan Smalley as our guest speaker! He is the founding director of TED-Ed, the education initiative of TED, a nonprofit devoted to “Ideas Worth Spreading” and famous for its TEDTalks. Logan and his team work with teachers and animators to create short, curiosity-invoking videos around topics typically taught in schools. The animations are served through TED-Ed’s award-winning website, and they’ve been viewed over one hundred million times.

Logan is also the creator of the literary website,, and the director of the award-winning documentary, Darius Goes West. The nonprofit film, which documents the adventures of Darius Weems on a cross country journey with his twelve best friends, has won 28 film festival awards worldwide, and has raised over $2 million for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy research.

… as well as a handful of dedicated room wranglers who will help guide our breakout conversations around our surprise theme for the July - August Global Makeathon. These include our very own:

-@PWHill (Chicago, IL)
-@DesignSaunders (Greenwich, CT)
-@macinspires (Larchmont, NY)
-@SparkleLab (Manila, Philippines)
-@maria_renard (Santiago, Chile)
-@ScotPrzybylski(Denver, CO)
-Iva Perez Bolivar (Barcelona, Spain)
-@sunekaae (Stockholm, Sweden)

Also, @JackandJude will be hosting a room around making and professor @syedBits will be hosting a room around the bitLab initiative and creating new modules! Feel free to invite any of your engineering friends who might be interested in joining.

DRESS CODE: Wear your favorite socks! ps. be prepared to show them and bonus points if their purple.


Thank you to everyone who joined the Community Call last Wednesday! It was great to see so many familiar faces and the many new ones as well.

We were excited to announce The official bitOlympics! The bitOlympic Games are the leading international littleBits event featuring new bitified sports in which thousands of bitsters from around the world participate in a 3-week long competition. The bitOlympic Games are considered to be the world’s foremost littleBits competition with more than 35 nations participating for some extraordinary prizes. Stay tuned for more information soon!

Our guest speaker on the call was Logan Smalley, the Founding Director of TED-Ed. TED-Ed’s mission is to capture and amplify the voices of great educators around the world by creating interactive activities for the classroom. The program is an extension of TED’s mission of spreading great ideas. Within TED-Ed’s library of lessons, there are carefully curated educational videos for teachers to use in the classroom. Since TED-Ed started a few years ago, they have over 450 lessons that have been viewed nearly 140,000,000 times and are translated into 80 different languages.

Logan shared TED-Ed’s latest initiative called TED-Ed Clubs. With the supervision of an educator, students meet together regularly 13 times. During each meeting the group learns a presentation skill and by the end of the program, each student gives a final TED talk. While creating a project is important, being able to share your idea is also incredibly powerful. In fact, stories have a way of engaging us thoroughly from beginning to end. Using narrative is an incredible way to engage someone.

Logan shared the two most important things when starting a program or event:

  1. Make sure you’re surrounded by a great team.

  2. Remember that everything is iterative and that when you launch something, it isn’t the end, but rather, just the beginning. You should want to be change it within a month and by doing so, you’ll get closer to getting it right.

Both TED-Ed and littleBits rely on video to help communicate ideas. He encouraged our community to make more great videos because they have a “magical quality”. Video is a medium that allows you to transfer and communicate a story to everyone.

You can see Logan’s slides here.

… and to watch the full conversation:

I missed this call so I am very happy to be able to watch the video. I love the topic it was so relevant. I struggle with the documentation portion of my projects. I find that I am often the one who is leading our classes or events so taking photos or video of the project is very hard. I will take pics of the project after or sometimes recreate the process after, but it lacks the excitement that the project had because it is missing the participants. I would love to be able to get someone to take photos for me, but a paid photographer is not usually in the budget (ok lets be honest, it is truthfully never in the budget). I am looking for suggestions or tips/tricks for how to document while running an event.

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@tinytreasures1 Very good question Gwen! Hiring a photographer is totally unnecessary-- have you thought about asking a friend or colleague to volunteer? Or seeing if a local college student would be interested in volunteering? I agree that it’s better to document a project as it’s happening, really capturing the momentum as it’s happening, rather than trying to recreate it later. @JackANDJude, @macinspires, @designsaunders, @sunekaae and @savereykjavik might have some suggestions.

Yes, I have done that with mixed results. Most notably when I asked a spectator friend to help out at a battle bot class. It was a lot of fun and would have made for great pics. What I ended up with was about 40 blurry pics back of people’s heads. I am wondering if I had several devices set up to “record” the room and maybe if I asked the participants to help to document. They may have more investment in getting good pics/video and in the documentation process. It could even be worked into my classes.

Oy! 40 blurry photos?

I wouldn’t suggest “recording” the room. It might make things a little awkward. However, I think it’d be a great idea to get ask your participants to help document the different projects. It also might be worth putting out an ask to your local University to see if a photography major would be interested in interning.

Hee hee! yes, I agree about awkwardness of video. I have a stop motion app that sort of “records” by taking lots of pics, one about every 30 seconds or so. That is more in line with what I was thinking. There is no sound recording so it is not as intrusive. I think it would result in a lot of backs of heads as well, but with that many photos being shot I am bound to get a handful of useable ones. Also I think it would not be too bad to interview with video. We did that at maker camp, it sort of kind of worked, with lots of editing needed afterward. In one of the interviews the kiddos turned the tablet sideways half way through so half of it is great and the other half you have to watch tilting your head. That is why I think working it into the lesson would be better, so we could teach a few pointers first. We do have the University of Florida here and would have ample resources for volunteer photographers. I will put some requests out for our next event.

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Hi, @tinytreasures1! :slight_smile: I have also found the documentation portion of a workshop with kids to be tricky. I can document the event by roaming around and taking pics while still facilitating the workshop, but really documenting each project is a different task entirely.

One trick that I started doing last month is to put a piece of paper on the table in front of each child and have them write their first name on it. Later, when they’ve firmed up their idea, they put the name of the project on the paper, too. Then when I photograph their project, their name and project name is automatically in the picture.

From my library workshop:

Even better is to have enough time set aside at the end of the workshop for children to share with the group (or just you). Then you can record that.

What do you think, @tinytreasures1?

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I love this. What a great Idea. Simple and quick to do too. We share a lot during my workshops. It is a way I have found to make do with fewer bits in a workshop. We explore the output bits first and each kiddo gets a different bit. They check it out then share their observations and then we switch bits and share etc. until everyone has had a turn with each bit. Then we do the input bits the same way. After all the bits are explored we grouped as teams to create larger projects. I started out my workshops with the equivalant one student kit and an older kit that I bought as a Father’s day promotion. I had to get creative with how we used the bits so that everyone got a turn with each bit and sharing was a major part of that. It worked so well I still use the process even after I got my hands on more sets.

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Inspiration for @tinytreasures1
I found a video of some kids demonstrating their projects after multiple class sessions. They present like pros. :smile:

They are so great!!! I love how they have so much to say. I feel like it is because they have ownership of the project. It is not just following directions or recreating someone else’s work. They understand what they created inside and out and are so proud to share what they know and have learned.

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