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With motors, batteries, and Glass, women make stuff at Google I/O

A floating Lego raft. A spinning ping-pong ball. Give six women a littleBits kit, and stand back

They came to build. At the Women Techmakers event at Google I/O, over 100 women developers gathered for some great Google food--and the chance to turn a littleBits kit into a working design.

But first, a casual Glass census:

"I've had mine for nine months," said this Google developer relations staffer.

"We're both Google developers."

"I've had mine for about a month. It's really interesting."

Then, onto the work at hand: Groups of four to six women had an hour to build a device from the provided littleBits extended kits and present it to the other groups.

The littleBits extended kits contain 14 small modules that attach via magnets to provide electrical or mechanical capabilities. They include a DC motor, a toggle switch, a motion trigger, an LED light, a battery...you get the idea. And it's all open-source, of course.

In addition to the kits, groups could raid tables piled high with craft and building supplies: Lego bricks, pipe cleaners, ping pong balls, construction paper, marker pens.

The goal: Make something. That...walks on water. Or reduces stress. Make something that flies. Or make a multiplayer game.

Full disclosure: A few people gave up on the modules and just had fun with the craft materials. "This is why I switched out of computer engineering: I suck at circuits," confessed one now-software engineer named Jennifer.

But most groups had quickly plugged the LEDs into the batteries to make some sort of light parade, or they had the DC motor going with some sort of kinetic sculpture.

It was just for an hour, and it was just for fun, but the point was: Women can make things, too. When most of these women return to jobs where they're greatly outnumbered by men, it'll be nice to remember that.


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