Kitables Kickstarts Automatic Rubik’s Cube Solver

The Second Law of Thermodynamics states that without the addition of work, the entropy of a system will increase. In other words, left alone a system becomes more disordered: molecules disperse, heat homogenizes, and if you drop a Rubik’s Cube, it ain’t real likely to solve itself. Instead, random processes applied to this best selling toy of all time tend to increase its disorder. Of the 350 million Rubik’s Cubes sold to date, how many do you think are sitting at the bottom of the toy box or even on the kitchen counter, unsolved? According to this lovely 2nd Law, the correct answer is lots.

The Boulder startup Kitables is out to change that. Currently being Kickstarted is its snap-together kit that in conjunction with a little Arduino board allows you and yours to put a Rubik’s Cube in a slot and watch the automatic arm solve the puzzle for you. They call it “every nerd’s dream machine.” And I don’t know about you, but the idea will definitely keep us here at Maker Boulder up at night.

The company is the brainchild of Arieann DeFazio, research scientist at CU Boulder using x-ray crystallography to study Alzheimer’s disease.

“I always had it in my head to create the perfect job, somewhere I could have a business and do science too,” says Arieann, escapee from a biomedical sciences PhD program in Florida. “After five or six years of searching and not finding it, I finally decided to make it myself.”

Arieann was surfing when she realized, “Here are all these great ideas, but nobody’s got the parts!” When she looked deeper, Arieann says she found that most existing DIY kits were just electronics or just mechanics or just science kits, “Most of what you get from Radioshack, is you do like five steps and you have a robot,” she says.

Arieann’s goal was to combine mediums to create a fully integrated home science experience. Working at CU and with another Boulder startup, Arieann started formatting her kits on the side. Eventually she hopes to have Kitables kits across STEM fields.

For now, there’s the Rubik’s solver. God’s Algorithm already existed for the Cube — the optimal path of action from any given state to the solution state. Arieann brought a friend with mechanical engineering experience into the business to work the machine side. And they’re hoping that Kickstarter will help take care of the business side.

“We have two Kickstarter goals,” she says. “The first is to make sure people actually want this thing. And the second is to provide a little seed funding, or I guess it would be micro-seed funding.”

Here’s a little editorial: as awesome as the solver most certainly is, you gotta visit the Kickstarter for the video’s comedic genius, which taps into the place within us all that knows what it’s like to obsess over Rubik’s. Be warned: the soundtrack for the solver video will make you want to get your Kojak on.

Consider this: by pledging for Kitables you can do you part to fight entropy and bring just a little more order into the world. Let this forever be known as the day that entropy was beaten back from the gate!

Innovation in Education Summit

Calling all educators!  Are you interested in exploring the world of Making, Design Thinking, and Innovation?  Do you want to take part in FUN, Hands on, Amazing workshops and seminars designed to help you inspire and engage your students while teaching 21st century skills?

Maker Boulder is bringing together an amazing diversity of makers, educators, experts, thought leaders, innovators and entrepreneurs from the Boulder area and beyond to share experience, information, and enthusiasm. Collectively we will learn about innovation as a way of thinking and collaborate to discover how to bring making, hacking, design thinking and entrepreneurship into our classrooms, schools, and communities. Our experts will provide classes, seminars and presentations to demonstrate not only the techniques of making but also how the skills making requires and trains promote the goals of modern S.T.E.A.M education and curriculum. Bringing the opportunity for educators of all kinds together at the Faire is key to building a community that will last long past one joyous, frenzied weekend in January.

Join us at the Boulder Mini Maker Faire on January 31st and February 1st.  You will get to explore amazing hands on learning opportunities at the Faire itself and join other educators in seminars and workshops designed to engage, teach and inspire.  We want you to share your knowledge and experience with the group!

Sign up below to learn more!

Boulder Mini Maker Faire T-Shirt Design Contest!


Maker Boulder T-shirt? Check. Boulder Mini Maker Faire T-shirt? HELP!

It’s time to unleash your inner maker, let your creative juices flow, and put pen to paper for the Maker Boulder T-Shirt Design Contest! We’ve got a Maker Boulder T-shirt (as modeled by MB’s own Mary Anne here), but we are immaculately devoid of a T-shirt for the upcoming Boulder Mini Maker Faire. You can help us change that. Are you a professional designer looking to feather your cap and get your name out there in the Boulder community? Or a mini maker with a penchant for penning? Or a concerned citizen affronted by the lack of maker imagery in Pearl Street fashion? Send us your design (see below)! The winning entry will be printed, indelibly inking your awesomeness for all to see, and we will use the full reach of our social media to spam the Boulder area with news of the winning designer.

Here’s the 411:

1. Use one color to draw something super cool that somehow includes the following information: Boulder Mini Maker Faire, Jan 31-Feb 1, 2015 @ Boulder County Fairgrounds. Don’t forget to sign your design and/or include your website (in a small, tasteful way…)!

2. Bring your design into the digital age by snapping a pic, scanning or otherwise compter-izing it.

3. Tweet the picture and tag @MakerBoulder in your message.

4. Let us know you entered by using the cool little giveaway interface by local Boulder, CO startup, Rafflecopter, below! Just paste in the URL of your tweet to enter.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

New Boulder Mini Maker Faire Poster!

Think back to your teenage bedroom. C’mon, admit it: you had a White Lion poster hanging next to that blowup of Kirk Cameron. Now as adult you know better. You have tasteful art hung on your walls, some of which you didn’t even buy at the Pottery Barn. But lurking just beneath your cultured veneer is that rowdy teen. Now is your chance to reconnect with your teenage self. Please feel free to print as many copies as you like of this truly White-Lion-awesome Maker Boulder poster and use them to plaster your current bedroom. If, for whatever reason, wallpapering your bedroom with robot posters isn’t politically feasible in your house, consider printing posters for use in your place of business or at other places of business that happen to have wall space not yet covered by advertisements for bands with pot references in their names.

Here without further ado or preamble is the new, super sweet Boulder Mini Maker Faire Poster:


Roller Coaster Thought Experiment

You know those thoughts you have in the shower? No, not those thoughts…but the mind-wandering flashes of observation or brilliant insight that you can’t seem to get any other way? I was thinking last night about a trip we took last year to Knott’s Berry Farm, where Leif — then 48 1/4 inches tall — was just tall enough for the radical roller coasters. There were absolutely no lines and so Leif and I strolled through the gates and directly onto Ghostrider, where we seated ourselves in the last car of the train. With my continued assurances of a fairly mellow ride, we clicked toward the top of the first hill. And long before we crested, Leif and I were whipped over the top and down many hundreds of feet toward the cold, hard ground, pulled over by the gravity already working on the front seats. Now in hindsight and in the shower, I recognize a couple thoughts that went through my head at the time. Here they are in no particular order:

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Drink & Draw: Strategic Illustration Expert, Chris Chopyak, Offers Boulder Workshop!

The internet doesn’t lie: people would rather look at your information than read it. That’s why an infographic goes viral while a white paper with the same information lives in the backwaters of your company blog ne’er to be read again. And when the human brain plans things — be it a business strategy or a book idea — we don’t see it in sentences; we “see” it in pictures. International visual communications expert, Chris Chopyak, knows how you can see it better. Her book Picture Your Business Strategy details the brush strokes of the winning strategic illustration methods she’s used with organizations ranging from Fortune 500 companies to basement startups.

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Calculating the Effort to Spend on Thanksgiving

A couple years ago today, I was baking muffins with my son’s preschool class and set fire to the school. Okay, technically I didn’t set it on fire—it was only butter smoke from the tin that set off the alarm, necessitating the entire school of a couple hundred kids filing out to the basketball courts while the fire department arrived en mass.

After that, my wife took over the Wednesday cooking class and it was never NEARLY so exciting. Besides, Leif was line leader that day, and he was really, very proud to lead the class evacuation. (I remember standing there with my large metal bowl and wooden spoon, smelling of smoke and trying to look innocent.)

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Best. Animal Shadow Puppets. Ever.

Oh we think we’re so slick, sitting here in the present and looking back at the follies of the past. But the pace of innovation in which newness steamrolls oldness means that sometimes we lose things we really should have kept. Like astronaut ice cream. We really don’t eat nearly as much astronaut ice cream as we should. And what ever happened to the band INXS? Another great historical cultural achievement that seems lost or at least marginalized in the modern era is the art of hand shadow puppets. Today is the day we change this. Join Maker Boulder in bringing back the art of the shadow puppet. These should get you started:

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Can Soldering Teach Emotional Regulation?

Dr. Kristi Pikiewicz originally wrote this for SparkFun and gave us permission to repost — it’s a small town here in Boulder! In this post she shares a nontraditional use for soldering, namely to teach emotional regulation in a therapy setting. What’s your soldering experience? Calming and meditative or infuriating and awkward?

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Calling All Makers!


If you are interested in being an exhibitor at the Faire, we may be able to accommodate your activity/exhibit.  To learn more, email Anne Fellini at


About a year ago, we got in touch with the folks at Make Magazine to discuss hosting a little Maker event, maybe in an elementary school gym. We imagined a cardboard building contest, an egg drop, maybe a couple presentations by local technology toy companies. If we lived in Boise or Burlington or Bozeman that’s what it would have been. But that day on the phone, Make Magazine heard the word “Boulder” and lit up like an Arduino board when you click the upload button. They said something like, “Dude, you totally have to host a Faire!” (Except maybe with a little less Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure.)

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