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How to Teach Advanced Engineering Skills With a Toy-Inspired Tech Set

January 18, 2014
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How to Teach Advanced Engineering Skills With a Toy-Inspired Tech Set
Littlebits, a toy that uses a system of electronic modules that snap together with magnets, is hoping to inspire a new generation to invent. Vimeo
littleBits allows you to make complex structures with snapable modules, but there's nothing little about what they can teach you.

Ayah Bdeir wants us to build our way toward innovation — the old fashioned way.

She is the CEO and founder of littleBits, an open-source library of small, electronic modules that look like LEGOs. The modules snap together via small magnets, and many of them contain motors or sensors, so creators are only limited by their imaginations. Bdeir was inspired when she realized that people are often afraid of technology because they might not know how it works. But with littleBits the parts are deconstructed so that users can see exactly what’s going on, and then create their own prototypes of small, but complex, machines. The pieces are simple enough that children and adults can use them. “People see electronics as mysterious or even ugly, but at littleBits we think they’re beautiful, and so all of our circuits are exposed,” Bdeir told Techonomy.com. “You can see the inner workings of the circuit and how it’s assembled.”

littleBits recently released a build-it-yourself music synthesizer, but users are engineering things that the company never even expected. “If you make something, document it,” Bdeir told Techonomy.com. “Take a picture, upload it and share it with the world and be proud of what you’ve made. We have a growing community doing that now and it’s very supportive.”

MORE: This Woman Is Inspiring the Next Generation of Female Engineers

 

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