Providing students with resources to help them become innovative and creative thinkers is one of Marymount School of New York‘s top priorities.
An independent college preparatory school for girls, Marymount is equipped with 3D printers, computer-controlled laser cutters, iPads and other technologies that provide its students with opportunities to create prototypes and build on STEM skills that may one day help them change the world.
In September, Marymount looked to create even more opportunities for students to design and invent through its implementation of littleBits 1:1 portable invention kits. These kits include numerous electronic learning blocks that help students build prototypes and create inventions.
Marymount has been at the forefront of integrating maker education into the curriculum for students at all levels. The school began incorporating littleBits into its curricula several years ago with its creation of the Fab Lab for its Upper Middle School (grades six through eight), a lab equipped with numerous technologies to help students design and build new creations. It has since developed three additional labs for fabrication.
In order to provide students with more opportunities to design and create, the faculty and administrators at Marymount decided they wanted each student in the Lower Middle School to have their own “mobile makerspace”, which would allow them to invent with littleBits across classes and subjects, both inside and outside of school.
“Our students are so enthusiastic about making and rapid prototyping, so we’ve opened up our labs to them after school and have developed a Marymount Makers Program for student in grades three through eight,” says Lesa Wang, a visual arts and STEAM teacher at Marymount.
Soon after the development of the Makers Program, littleBits and Marymount began working together to develop an additional program that would further students’ learning experiences with littleBits.
“We reached out to Marymount to collect some user feedback and we were intrigued as to how the students and faculty were using Bits in the Makers Program. We then began a conversation about how littleBits could be used for an individualized student experience, beyond the makerspace,” says Erin Mulcahy, strategic initiatives, littleBits Education.
As a result of these discussions, Marymount decided to implement a 1:1 program with littleBits for the Lower Middle School.
“By providing the Lower Middle School students with their own individualized kits, students have the tools to problem solve and invent something at any time during the day,” says Wang.
The kits were co-curated by a team of Marymount teachers and experts from littleBits and include 26 Bits.
At Marymount, students have been using littleBits to create innovative and functional inventions such as an automatic sushi grabber and a pinball machine.