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Instructables Build Night: littleBits

We down at the TechShop in Chandler, AZ have been eyeing littleBits since they first showed up on Kickstarter a couple of years ago... and boy did we ever luck out!!!  Thanks to Instructables & littleBits, we are now proud owners of FOUR Deluxe Kits and several of littleBits' brand new At Heart modules.  How? You might ask...

Well Instructables runs a wonderful program referred to as Instructables Build Nights, where they and a sponsor send maker spaces, schools, libraries or other learning institutions a box of goodies (like littleBits) in return for hosting a build night.  The build night is sort of a free for all to make stuff with whatever they send you, and in our case - it was open to everyone, especially kids.  At the end of the build night, you submit three or more instructables for what you came up with during the allotted time.  Fantastic, right?!

So, what was our Build Night experience like?  Well, when I got the box - I jumped up and down like a kid who just found out they were going to Disney World... and shouted "hooray Instructables! hooray littleBits!!!" and ran around telling everyone in the shop that they had arrived!
I pulled them out and demonstrated how they worked to curious members who passed by, and the interest started to snowball from there.
I went to the local thrift stores and found a bag of K'nex (awesome!), craft supplies, odds n ends, and pulled out the small shop supply of Legos.  I spread everything out and hung a sign above, telling people to PLAY!  Everyone was very excited for the event.  Our members with families appreciate anything that can help them involve their kids in making early on.

The evening of Build Night, I commandeered two of our shop tables.  I set up one with a few laptops (for Arduino programming), and on the other I dumped out all of the littleBits.   To the side I made a utility cart FULL of the aforementioned thrifted accoutrements.
We had parents with kids from 5-16 come in, as well as curious members coming by to get a little break from their projects by playing!  It was fantastic.  One of our guests made an animated scene, that looked like a mini backdrop for a play or puppet show.  One kid was completely taken by the buzzer, which was hilarious.
We made a toy ferris wheel turn, a little roadster go, and lots of stuff light up... like el-wire fairy crowns!  We came up with a few instructables as well, like this animated guy and this little dune buggy.
I am still working on the last one, a game show buzz-in system involving arduino - that is a little more complicated than the other two... but it is coming soon. ;)

Build Night was a hit.  We've already had numerous requests to run a littleBits party once a month!  We're developing specific programming for kids using littleBits, focusing more on how electronics work and the science behind the Bits!  I can't wait to get more sets and watch our members continue to experiment with them!

We feel so fortunate to have been given these sets, what an incredible gift!  Thanks so much Instructables and littleBits! From all of us at TechShop Chandler, YOU ROCK!  <3

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