For Christmas, my 13-year-old daughter received the award-winning and oh-so-popular littleBits Droid Inventor Kit. I chose this as one of her gifts not only because she loves all things Star Wars but also because of the excellent reviews of this STEM-related toy. It combines fun with education, which is a winning combination for most parents, including me.
Recently, littleBits collaborated with Lucasfilm to challenge kids to invent their own custom Droids using the Droid Inventor Kit.
“Our mission at littleBits is to inspire kids of all backgrounds and genders to get excited about STEAM,” Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO of littleBits, said in a press release. “We made the Droid Inventor Kit not as a finished toy for them to play with, but as a launchpad for creativity and invention. We’re thrilled to have won the Toy Industry Association’s Creative Toy of the Year, but we are even more gratified to see our vision carried out by these creative kids as you see in the competition.”
The littleBits Competition: Droid Inventor Kit invited kids, families, and Star Wars fans in the U.S., U.K., and Canada to share their own unique Droid creations with the global inventor community. Of more than 300 creative submissions received during the competition, more than 50 percent were from young female inventors. Each submission was judged on creative use of materials, inventiveness and a video presentation. The panel of judges comprised accomplished female business and entertainment role models including:
** Ayah Bdeir, founder and CEO at littleBits
** Kathleen Kennedy, president at Lucasfilm
** Daisy Ridley, the actress who portrays Rey in the current Star Wars trilogy
** Kelly Marie Tran, the actress who portrays Rose Tico in Star Wars: The Last Jedi
“I was really struck by how innovative and creative these kids are, and what a fantastic sense of humor they have,” Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy said in a press release. “The submissions were truly inspiring, and I’m hopeful their enthusiasm for inventing will become a lifelong passion.”
Three winners were chosen in each of two categories — beginner, or “Padawan Learner” and advanced, or “Jedi Master.” Two first-prize winners received all-expenses-paid, VIP trips to Lucasfilm and $500 littleBits bucks; two second-prize winners received an R2-D2 replica signed by the cast of Star Wars: The Last Jedi and a littleBits Code Kit; and the two third-prize winners received a $200 Disney shopping spree and littleBits swag.
Take a look at the winners of the littleBits Competition: Droid InventorKit:
R2-RockLifter: Carter B., age 11, uses the Droid Inventor Kit’s Force Mode to lift “rocks” (i.e. balloons) at her command.
This is the Droid You’re Looking For: Riley M., age 13, recreates the iconic X-wing using cardboard, clothes hangers, duct tape, and a Droid Inventor Kit.
R2BCalm: Hollister M., age 8, helps children with autism stay calm in challenging situations by sensing noise and sharing tools like fidget spinners or headphones.
MSE-BBIN: Sunil J., age 38, creates a custom Droid for home surveillance.
O2: Graciela L., age 13, works with her custom Droid to recognize harmful gases in the atmosphere.
Coding Art Bot: Sylvia D., age 13, combines her love for coding and art to program her Droid to create a secret message.
There were hundreds of submissions from cities like Denver, Colorado to Etobicoke, Ontario. Fifty-one percent of the entries featured female inventors, whose entries pointed to some unique trends. For example, girls like to create a storyline: rehearse a script, play a role, add drama. Many of their projects were meant to help their siblings, create art, take care of pets, or assist with household chores like cooking or cleaning.