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Making science fun
22 September 2015

New York (Forbes Middle East) - According to conventional wisdom, science subjects are dry, technical, tedious, and typically dominated by male students. Electric circuits, power modules, batteries - while all essential to the modern technical conveniences we can no longer imagine ourselves coping without, the thought of having to understand the internal functioning of these components is beyond the willpower of most people. 32-year-old Ayah Bdeir from Lebanon has made it her mission to change this state of affairs:  through her startup, littleBits Electronics, she is leading the way in a worldwide trend dedicated to making the application of science more creative, colorful – and fun. LittleBits’ LEGO-like plastic modules are color-coded and embedded with electronic circuits that snap together with magnets: power modules are blue; output modules are green; input is pink. With the playful and accessible design, littleBits encourages children and adults to let their imagination loose, and build anything from towers that shoot bubbles, to alarm clocks and garage openers.

Since Bdeir first started toying with the idea of littleBits, her invention has gone from strength to strength: in 2007, New York’s Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), impressed by Bdeir’s combination of science and design, featured her inventions in two exhibits that explored the relationship between science and design, and since made them part of its permanent collection; Bdeir’s TED talk on “Building blocks that blink, beep and teach” garnered more than 1 million views, and her stint mentoring “the next generation of science and technology innovators” in design on the Doha-based TV show Stars of Science made her a role-model for girls and women; after founding a creative outlet for “makers” in Lebanon and the Arab world, she co-founded the successful Open Hardware Summit in the U.S. in 2010, and eventually published pictures of her kits online in 2011, generating tons of emails from around the world from people asking to buy the modules. After she sold her first kit at the maker faire in New York in 2011, she decided to form littleBits which today is used by teachers in more than 2,200 schools and universities in 60 countries as interactive learning tools to explain anything from grammar to math, and concoct inventions.

Full story and photo credits available at Forbes Middle East.