Here are two exciting new and upcoming that libraries can incorporate into STEM and STEAM programs and into Makerspaces. The first is called littleBits. littleBits are magnetically connectable color-coded electronic modules. They teach children how to connect circuits and build machines but require no soldering, wiring, or programming.
There are a number of kits available for sale or you can buy modules individually. littleBits has an educational site that includes lesson plans, design challenges, tons of great ideas. Brilliantly, their hardware is open source and everything on their site is Creative Commons licensed, so it’s all free to use and modify. They’ve got a growing community of contributors uploading new lessons, projects, and build videos as well.
littleBits offers an education discount for schools, libraries, museums, home school communities, after-school programs, and makerspaces–you just need to fill out the form on this page to apply. Not convinced? spend some time on their site or search YouTube for videos of kids, teens, and adults making cool things with littleBits.
The Kano computer and coding kit allows people of all ages to build a computer, learn code, and make games and other projects. Computer Kit is not yet available, but it will be later this year. The kit includes Raspberry Pi, a keyboard, project books, a case, software, a Wi-Fi dongle, HDMI cable, power cable, ethernet cable, DIY speaker, stickers, and case cards. Essentially, all you need to provide is a screen.
You can read more about Kano and watch videos of kids building, programming, experimenting, and playing with their own computers here. Kano is not yet available but it will be soon. I don’t expect it will take long for lesson plans and projects to proliferate once it makes its way onto the market!