Three children paired up for our latest Little Bits project. While they were researching the Little Bits website, an image of a bridge with lights captivated their interest. They immediately began brainstorming and planning to recreate this 3D model. What followed was a rich, child-lead, interactive learning experience.
First, the children created their own template of the bridge out of cardboard and frequently referred to the website directions to understand the functions of the electronic modules.
Collectively, they worked relentlessly to run the lights through the bridge and connect the correct modules together. They had to work as a team to brainstorm solutions to problems they faced, like how to “sew” the lights through the holes in the bridge and finding a way to keep the modules in place. The children even worked together on the aesthetic appeal of the bridge by spending a few days troubleshooting and collaborating on how to successfully hang the clouds.
Throughout the project (which took a total of 3 months), we hypothesized and discussed power and light: exactly what it is, what we use it for, how we can use it better, how we can harness the power of each, and more.
The following is an image drawn by Evelynn after talking about what power is with Teagan and Alex.
Soon, they realized that they have to turn on the light, but with what?
As they studied the pieces they previously assembled to turn on the lights, they came to the conclusion that the “power” came from the battery.
But, how does the battery give the power to the light?
The following drawings and writing describe the children’s thought processes and conversations of how the battery “turns the light on.”
As we continued to talk about light, we asked a few questions to further their
understanding of power and electricity:
“What is light?” and “What makes light?”
They began to name things:
And then Alex said,
The girls began a discussion focusing on thunder and lightening. This heightened their interest in electricity, so naturally we encouraged them to explore more. The girls went to a computer and they researched lightning and thunder and how it relates to one another. They came to the conclusion that you can see lightning and hear thunder, thus they are not the same.
“Correct things that make light are fire and lightning” -Teagan
“We made it out of cardboard and Little Bits. It turns on by plugging it into the board. Electricity is in the board.” -Alex
After they talked about lightning and thunder, Teagan wrote the following: “You can hear thunder and you can see lightning.”
The children learned that there are two forms of light: natural and artificial. As the girls discussed forms of light, they named “fire, light bulbs, the sun, and lightning” as things that made light.
Our research showed that the girls were accurate on naming the main sources of light.
Natural forms of light:
- The sun
Artificial forms of light:
- Light bulbs
This project allowed children to develop problem solving skills, work with other children in a team, further their understanding of mathematics, science, and allowed for a hefty dose of creativity. Our goal with this project is to allow children to tap into their creativity while using electronic materials to express their understanding of power, light, and electricity in their own way. The world is based on technological advances, instant communication, and innovative ideas. In order to become fully developed members of society, children need to experiment, explore, and invent with technology!
This project also allowed the children to express themselves in a different way, take some control over the direction of their learning, and fostered problem solving among peers… key characteristics of a Reggio Emilia approach to learning.
The most amazing part of this project is that we simply presented the materials to the children. They are the ones who tested theories, brainstormed, created plans, figured out what materials we would need, designed the layout, connected the circuits and figured out the problems that occurred along the way. We didn’t give them a step-by-step worksheet that required a certain process or even tell them what they had to create. They did this on their own!
To read about our previous Little Bits projects: