There can be a thrill in teaching kids the fundamentals of electronics. But equally, there can be challenges, such as keeping them engaged, ensuring parts are safe to use, and avoiding the need for soldering. We noticed that Jaycar recently released some great looking kits from littleBits, so we took a closer look.
We checked out the “Rule Your Room Kit” and found it is well packed, with a moulded tray, a servo, a quality Duracell battery, a 78-page, full-colour invention guide, and a bag containing two mounting boards, a USB cable, and a handful of accessories. There are also several components they call “Bits”.
The Bits in the "Rule Your Room Kit" include a power module, dimmer, sound trigger, bargraph, buzzer, servo, and a “Makey Makey” Bit. This Makey Makey Bit turns everyday conductive objects – like bananas or play dough for example – into triggers to control your circuit; and there are alligator clips supplied to help connect to different materials. The manual even shows you how you can use the Makey Makey Bit to act like a USB keyboard or mouse and take control of your computer.
The modules can be plugged into the supplied mounting boards or separately. 3M adhesive shoes are also supplied, so you can mount your circuit on all kinds of surfaces. These littleBits modules are quite small, and colour-coded depending on their function; for example, pink for input, green for output, blue for power, and orange for wire. The magic is in the built-in magnets, which ensures the Bits can’t be snapped together the wrong way.
The invention guide contains instructions for eight inventions, so it’s ideal to get you started. There’s also an app available from the App Store or Google Play, so you can access thousands more, and even share your own creations with the community.
If you’re after a larger kit the "Gizmos & Gadgets Kit" includes many more parts, including a Bluetooth module, to help you really take control of your invention – by, for example, making a remote controlled car. It also allows you to tap into your Smartphone’s gyro, accelerometer, and camera to help you create the ultimate inventions!
While the kits may seem a little pricey, they do provide quality parts that the kids can connect without letting the smoke out. There are also the benefits that come with being part of the littleBits community, which – as littleBits say – makes for endless hours of fun!
Grab it online from Jaycar Electronics: