File Under: Real Reasons to Have Kids. If you're not already familiar, littleBits is a source for super simple snap-together electronics. They operate on a kid- or idiot-friendly design that uses magnets to connect function-specific Bits to each other in endless modular ways. In addition to basic components like motors, sensors, LEDs, switches, usb power sources and inverters, they also batch up kits for the lazy and excitable. The one that got my motor going this week: Space Kit! Among other projects, this kit can help you build a satellite dish, learn how to measure particles in the atmosphere, and make a totally cool "robotic space arm" called THE GRAPPLER:
The space kit comes with twelve module components and a handful of accessories picked for the space theme. They provide ten project ideas based on interplanetary technology, and five learning modules developed with input from NASA engineers and scientists. Fancy! And they're seriously fun—you can make a mini Mars rover! Or if space isn't your vacuum bag, just check out the tons of user uploaded projects, like this totally practical self-cooling hiking hat. (Or this slightly scary electronic birthday candle, which might have fit right in during the real Mars rover's lonesome birthday song.)
As a modular learning base, littleBits are pretty versatile. Like the Tinkerbots, littleBits require no soldering or wiring, and the system can be as simple two pieces—a power source and output—or as complex as you can imagine. Plus, they're always accepting user ideas for functional Bits. So there's a good chance that one weird function you want is on the way. Now all I need is a way to justify collecting the entire set.