COMPUTER CORNER

Reviewed by
Bill Gillespie and Rosemary McDowall

When our good friend Matt Gillard from Sammat Education emailed us to say that he had some littleBits for review we were intrigued. The package turned out to be a lot bigger than we expected. It turns out that far from being something that requires a magnifying glass to see, littleBits is an electronic package of modules that magnetically snap together to complete circuit combinations, hence the name littleBits.

Matt provided us with the Premium Kit to review for Education. The kit consists of 14 electronic modules. The modules come in four colours to assist students (and reviewers) complete the various electronic circuits.

The power modules are coloured blue while input modules are pink and output modules are green. The kit also has orange modules to extend your circuit’s reach or change the direction of your project.

Most unlike us, we decided to have a look at the supplied booklet to create a simple fan. We took out the blue power module, added the pink slide module (to control the speed of the fan) and attached the green fan module.

The modules contain small magnets so they clip together very easily, and because they are magnetised, will only clip together one way, which is great for young children and frustrated reviewers.

In less time than it has taken you to read this paragraph we had our first project put together. We turned on the power switch and had our fan working; using the slider on the dimmer we could control the fan’s speed.

Feeling like experts, we jumped straight to the last project in the book, a Playful Pet. Using some cardboard we crafted a dog. We have to admit that our dog didn’t look quite as good as the illustrations but we were close!

Next we built the electronic circuitry. We connected the pressure sensor to the power module. We placed the pressure end of the sensor under a spot on the dog’s back. We used the orange modules to extend the reach of the circuitry and connected a green vibration motor circuit. We placed the end of the motor in a little bell that was hung around the dog’s neck.

Next, we connected a branch circuit and added two LED output modules which we placed in the dog’s eyes. Another orange extension module was added, followed by a pulse module and a servo module, which we set to swing mode. We attached a tail to the end of the servo arm. Okay, I hope you are following us. So when we patted the dog we activated the pressure sensor which made the dog’s LED eyes light up, its bell ring and the tail wag. Simple!

After this success we were very proud of ourselves so we jumped online to visit the littleBits website and we were astounded at the capability of the product and the creativity of people. This is an amazing, easy-to-use product, yet the real power lies in the creative potential of the users. This is one product we will be purchasing.

Hardware provided for review by Sammat Education. Bill Gillespie teaches at Elanora Heights PS and Rosemary McDowall teaches at The Forest High. They can be contacted at computer_corner2000@yahoo.com.