I was recently able to play with the Makey Makey products and it was an incredible experience. For all that I cannot stand the way banana’s taste, they do make an excellent space bar substitute. Using a laptop, the Makey Makey and some fruits, marshmallows and candy peanuts (because, really, who eats those?) I learned how to create a circuit -and more importantly, how to make the circuit work. As I was working though my own experience with the piano app, I found myself forgetting to “ground” the circuit. My background is in literature, so my overall knowledge related to science, and therefore, circuits, is minimal, but my dad has some background in electronics – enough that I’ve picked up some things over the years. One of those things is of course knowing about grounding. With the Makey Makey you, or your students, act as the grounding. You, or your students, complete the circuit. You literally become a part of the lesson, a part of the demonstration. Without you, without your students engaging with the Makey Makey, it doesn’t work. This is the next phase of interaction, engagement in the classroom. Your students can be up out of thier seats, moving around, engaging with the technology, engaging with each other and engaging with you while also learning or applying what they already know about circuits. These types of interactions create meaningful experiences for your students, ones they want to go home and tell their parents, grandparents, friends, neighbors, anyone about. While engaging in play, at any educational level, they are learning. When the piano doesn’t play, they can work with their peers to find a solution – remembering perhaps as I often do, to ground their circuit.
Technology in the classroom has been and continues to be a point of discussion among educators. From narratives such as “Is Google Making Us Stupid” to more positive views as shown above, everyone has an opinion on the hows whys whens and wheres of technology in education. The largest challenge for educators in implementing technology into their lessons is knowing the answers to those very questions. As stated in the video, if you can teach the lesson without technology, great. There are instances where it might not be appropriate or necessary to integrate technology into a lesson. But, there might be times when as an educator, you should. Creativity and allowing students a space in which they can engage their creativity is a key factor in 21st century education. Science literacy is about more than knowing facts, formulas and laws – it’s also about knowing how to create based on the facts formulas and laws that students know.
As an educator with a background in mostly humanities, science always presented a challenge. Linking science literacy with the new focus on STEM and now STEAM initiatives felt like such a daunting task. How can educators find ways to engage their students, specifically those not naturally inclined in the sciences? How do you reach those who have been told they’re just not good at it? Or that maybe they’re skills are in something less technical, less “sciencey”. LittleBIts presented to me a new world of opportunities within the classroom and outside the classroom. Here, students are given the building blocks necessary to create something using science without necessarily realizing they’re using science. Through the use of LittleBits, students can explore, can create, can learn in new ways. The focus moves beyond knowing the facts of how a circuit works and transcends to a space of imagination where the classroom becomes a mini rave, or a piece of paper becomes a windmill. For students who struggle with grasping some of the concepts due to ELL or special education needs, LittleBIts can help create a space in which they can explore, learn, apply and express their knowledge in ways not bound by traditional methods of assessment, ways that aren’t hindered by language or learning barriers. Integration of LittleBits is just one way of empowering students to gain mastery of science and technology literacy in the 21st Century.