littleBits, maker of open source electronic models for teaching children about electronics, has teamed up with NASA to offer the "Space Kit."
The award-winning company called littleBits is on a mission to “break down the barriers between the products we consume and the things we make.” Founder and CEO Aya Bdeir believes everyone has the potential to invent—they just need the right building blocks. Named one of Fast Company’s 1000 Most Creative People in Business, Bdeir has done for electronics what LEGO™ did for blocks. The basic concept of what littleBits offers is to move electronics into the earliest design stages in the hands of non-experts.
What littleBits sells are electronic modules with specific functions such as producing light or sound, sensing, switching, generating movement, and more. They are all open source and the best part is that they all snap together with magnets so that there is no soldering, wiring, or programming. The idea is to educate users of electronic devices about those devices with hands-on illustration limited only by individual creativity.
Now littleBits announces a new “Space Kit” of electronic modules it produced through a collaboration with NASA scientists and engineers. The kit includes 12 modules, five NASA lesson plans, and 10 STEAM activities that are designed to help merge Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) with Art (STEAM). The kit is designed for making a Mars rover or a space station, transmitting music wirelessly and more. And again, the pieces simply snap together. There are no hardware fasteners to tighten and no wires to connect.
The move is timely as public awareness and interest in space is on the upswing, perhaps in part to more space news and information presented in the media and in entertainment.
“From our perspective, it was to engage kids in how NASA uses the electromagnetic spectrum,” said Ginger Butcher, education and public outreach lead for the Aura mission. “We can see how much ozone is in the atmosphere. We can see features on Mars.”