A Proficient Prototype

A simple littleBits kit foreshadows a future in design prototyping that can lead to great possibilities


Students came to lecture this week expecting to have fun playing with design kits and left with a greater knowledge of engineering design and how it applies to real life dynamics. As an engineer, creativity is a key aspect for solving and addressing design challenges. Therefore finding meaningful ways to find this creativity and address these challenges is crucial. This weeks sprint focused on practicing device prototyping and developing a prototype prompted by a specific design challenge.


As seen in the image above, students used littleBits kits during the sprint to build miniature engineering prototypes. The class was given the option to choose between three prompts and select a partner to work with. The prompt chosen by my partner and I was a prompt involving developing a prototype for pet owners that have trouble with their pets and more specifically owners dealing with obese pets. Hence, we were told to build three prototypes and then focus on one for our final deliverable. The first prototype built was a device that would sense is the pet was making too much noise and set off a sound to try to scare it and silent the pet. The second one was a design built to try to keep the pet busy by putting flashing LED lights in two ends of a hall and have them alternate if the pet becomes too rowdy to try to distract the pet. The final product was the one we chose to select for our deliverable. It was a prototype of a system that would scare the pet away from its food in its bowl of it tries to eat too much by sensing it’s body heat and setting off a mini alarm.

The design can be seen in the picture to the left, as it displays what how the system would operate. After selecting one of the three prototypes, students were then told to make a video to present the prototype concept. The video can be found through this link:


Altogether, the project taught a great amount of lessons on engineering and prototyping different designs to address specific design issues


This was a great learning experience as it taught students how to design prototypes. Working with the littleBits kits was helpful in understanding how the process works and how complicated it can be. Allowing students to work through several prototyping ideas was good as it helped creativity flow and led to kids having to look for several ways of addressing design issues. A question I thought of while creating my project was how feasible would the logistics of the design I created or any of the designs in class be? I figures it is subjective as it depends on each design but also that my own design was simple enough to not lead to spending much money. Ultimately, through design prototyping I learned how to overcome design challenges and address simple issues users may have.

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