Making

Penn State Opens Invention Studio

Pennsylvania State University is opening a new exploration lab designed to foster student creativity and inventiveness.

The "Invention Studio" will be located in the Penn State Knowledge Commons on the University Park campus and open to all of the university's students, faculty and staff members. The university is creating the studio in partnership with littleBits, a company that makes simple electronic building blocks that will be available in the studio for people to use.

Each littleBits building block, called a "bit," has a different function. Power bits are the starting point of any littleBits creation. Input bits add functionality such as motion triggers, pressure sensors, light sensors, microphones, switchers and more. Wire bits let inventors extend a signal, change the direction of a signal or connect to the Internet. Output bits add functionality such as motors, speakers, lights and buzzers. The littleBits connect with magnets, so they can just snap together. The team behind the Invention Studio hopes the open lab space and littleBits technology will inspire people to create solutions to real-world problems and connect objects to the network of connected devices known as the Internet of Things.

"The goal of this new space is to inspire students to develop research, invoke entrepreneurship and explore new ideas through creative coursework," said Kyle Bowen, director of education technology services at Penn State, in a prepared statement. "The exploration lab will enable faculty from many areas to include creative design problems within their courses. It's an opportunity to assign invention as homework."

The university is also planning to expand its partnership with littleBits with not-yet-announced projects intended to further engage learners through technology.

About the Author

Leila Meyer is a technology writer based in British Columbia. She can be reached at leilameyer@gmail.com.

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