Parents who want to get their kids powerful STEM presents will have a few interesting new choices this fall. littleBits, the company which makes compelling but simple snap-together electronics kits, today introduced three new products that help children "invent" everything from a working guitar to a driveable Mars rover, all while learning about circuits. Available immediately, their prices range from $99 to $199.
The $99 Base Inventor Kit provides enough electronic and building pieces to create at least 12 projects, including a giant, clamp-like hand that you can use to grab objects. There are 10 different "bits," the electronic pieces you snap together, including a servomotor, a proximity sensor and a buzzer.
A lot of the projects are based on ideas from real kids who used electronics to solve problems in their communities. For example, there's a project where you make a cardboard bat with a sensor that makes noise when it gets near an object. littleBits told us the bat came from a child inventor who wanted to make something to help blind users navigate around a room.
For $99, the Electronic Music Inventor kit provides the components you need to build a functional electric guitar. There are eight bits here, including a keyboard, microsequencer and oscillator.
The $199 Spacer Rover Inventor Kit has 15 different bits and all the parts you need to build a vehicle you can drive remotely using the littleBits mobile app. Though the kit is more expensive, you get a functional RC vehicle, something kids always enjoy. The Rover also has a Bluetooth LE control bit that will, in a possible future update, allow you to write code for it.
All of the kits use the littleBits mobile app to guide you through a series of projects. Because the bits all snap together, you can combine modules from different kits to make completely new projects. If you have both the music kit and the base kit, for example, you can put a servomotor on your guitar.
All of the littleBits kits are targeted at children ages eight and up, but my six-year-old son had no problem mastering the Avengers Hero Inventor Kit and the Star Wars Droid Inventor Kit.
The three new inventors kits are already available via Amazon and littleBits.com.