NASA Launches littleBits Space Kits for Kids (VIDEO)

Apr 28, 2014 11:55 AM EDT | Jordan Ecarma

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In the hopes of inspiring the next generation of scientists, NASA has teamed up with the New York-based company littleBits to develop space kits for kids, Reuters reported.

The space agency and the startup are partnering so NASA scientists can come up with activities that work with the $189 kits, which include electronic modules that can be snapped together--something akin to Legos with built-in electricity.

"If you think of a littleBits module as a brick--essentially a building block from which you can make anything--then you could say that Lego is the closest comparison of an infinitely extensible library," said founder Ayah Bdeir, as quoted by TechCrunch. "Of course we've added another dimension entirely to our bricks by building the power of electronics into them."

While much more challenging than building with Legos, the space kits allow children to bypass the complexities of wiring, soldering and programming while still letting them tinker with electronics.

The kits comprise 12 magnetic modules, which include a numbers module, remote trigger and infrared LED sensor; a booklet of circuit applications from NASA scientists; how-to instructions on constructing a wave generator; and a model Mars Rover, according to TechCrunch.

"We get A LOT of partnership requests but we picked NASA because space is critical, and massively important to every single person in the universe, and to society in general," Bdeir wrote, as quoted by TechCrunch, "But only so many of us understand what all these discoveries mean, and how they relate to us."

In a TED demonstration, Bdeir showed how the bricks snap together magnetically and are color-coded: green for output, blue for power and pink for input. Blue and green snapped together make light and can be developed into a larger circuit.

"We've been giving littleBits to kids and seeing them play with them, and it's been an incredible experience," Bdeir said in her speech at TED. "The nicest thing is how they start to understand the electronics around them from every day that they don't learn at schools."

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