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LancSciFest and littleBits

July 3, 2016
Mark Lochrie

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This week (30 June – 1 July) saw the fist littleBits Lancashire Science Festival workshop. At the Media Innovation Studio we ran workshops Thursday and Friday for schools from across the country (even as far as Hull!).

“The space truly is a perfect place for harnessing creativity in these types of workshops”

The workshops introduced littleBits for the first time to children as young as 8 and old as 15. The workshops hosted a nice mixture of boys and girls with some revealing revelations from the teachers pointing out which children within school that would definitely not get involved with things like this but were more than happy to give it ago with the littleBits.

Saturday was open to the public. Due to the high numbers that the festival attracts (13000+) we decided we needed to enforce ticketing. Members of the public could book onto one of three workshops throughout the day. The workshop was that popular amongst visitors we decided to to run ad-hoc workshops in between the ticketed ones. This meant running constant workshops from 09:30 till 17:00, which we were more than happy to do so. Even though the workshops aren’t there as a sales pitch some parents were very interested in purchasing the technology. These workshops allow parents the ability to see if their child has an interest for this or is simply a fad. The price of the technology isn’t cheap, some parents commented on this, whereas others were keen to explore with a basic pack first.

It was really nice to see one parent and child who previously attended one of our workshops at the Harris Preston’s Talk Nerdy to Me events, this demonstrates to us that this child shows a great interest into electronics and coding, you will spot her in the photos below.

“Can I come back later?”

Throughout the day we introduced the bits to the participants, talking about what is needed to make a simple circuit all the way up to creating wireless circuits. It did however, became apparent that once the children got their hands on the speakers and KORG set, children just want to make the loudest noise. The team of helpers myself (Mark Lochrie), Debbie Dearnley, Paul Egglestone and Andy Dickinson discusses this shift and are very keen to explore ways in which children must first understand the bits more before playing with the noises and motors. Not that creating a generation of musicians and mechanics is a bad thing!

After a very long day/week, pumped on adrenaline it was really rewarding seeing children interact with a piece of technology that they would never have crossed their paths. Seeing a child’s face light up, not just because they understand how a motion sensor lights up a bright LED, but because they can see that they have made something happen based on snapping the bits together was something really special. We have tried to capture a range of participants during ‘that moment’.

“Mark, Mark, Mark, When is the next littleBits Lancashire Science Festival?”

Lightbulb moment

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