Five Top MakerEd / EdTech Tools to Boost STEAM Education at Home!

MakerBolder wins EdTech Grant from Eduporium

MakerBolder was honored to receive Eduporium’s EdTech Grant to support our upcoming Rocky Mountain STEAM Fest.  You can read more about the Grant HERE.  We love the way Eduporium is supporting in-home and in-classroom STEAM Education (and you will, too!).  Below is an article from the Eduporium team that shines a light on awesome tools and toys that are both fun and educational.  Enjoy!

By Andy Larmand, Eduporium

 

The Eduporium team is on a mission to provide educators and innovative community leaders with technology that helps students develop crucial STEM skills through active learning and hands-on experiences. Eduporium also offers a monthly grant program, through which they award $500 worth of EdTech to deserving educational institutions and organizations.

MakerBolder was chosen as Eduporium’s January grant recipient and selected Ozobot robots to give out at their annual Rocky Mountain STEAM event! Ozobot’s are fantastic STEAM tools that allow children to take part in hands-on learning and help build a strong foundation of 21st century skills, including coding.

Check out some of the most popular MakerEd tools for enhancing STEAM education.

  • 3Doodler: This 3D printing pen combines some of the most exciting and important elements of STEAM education in engineering and 3D design. It is both a 3D printer and a pen meaning that kids can use it to draw objects in three dimensions! One of their pens is designed for students as young as 6 years old and the other is suitable for students in middle school and up. They are both completely safe for children and include various fun filaments for printing.
  • littleBits: These electronic modules snap together easily via their individual magnetic connection and each has a color-coded function.

    LittleBits tools can be pieced together in thousands of ways to give people of all ages the opportunity to “iterate” their EdTech creations!

    The different Bits include inputs, outputs, wires, power supplies, and more. As students build inventions with them, they learn that it’s not possible to have a functioning output without an input and it’s not possible to activate their circuits without power, eventually progressing to building circuits they can control with code.

  • MaKey MaKey: The MaKey MaKey uses the conductivity found within everyday objects and inside the human body to turn any conductive object into an interactive touchpad. Students can attach a conductive object to the MaKey MaKey board, “ground” themselves by holding one of the kit’s jumper wires in their hand, and activate the conductive object by touching it while holding the wire in their hand since they too are conductors of electricity!
  • MakeDo Packs: These maker-focused tools allow kids to invent and build with cardboard! Students can optimize their inventions with easy-to-use pieces, like reusable screws, tools, and saws, which are all plastic and enab

    MakeDo EdTech kits expand creative problem solving.

    le students to anchor cardboard construction projects. Each of MakeDo’s kits promote creative thinking and inventive problem solving in a fun way.
    KEVA Planks are small, rectangular wooden blocks kids can strategically use to build all sorts of structures. Not only are they able to be creative and design buildings and bridges, they also learn the fundamentals of engineering along the way. With KEVA, students are challenged to create sound structures that can support themselves, teaching them important design and engineering principles in the process.

To discover more MakerEd tools for enhancing engagement and inspiring learning by making, check out the Eduporium website or reach out to info@eduporium.com. And, be sure to encourage kids to use hands-on learning to unlock new levels of inventiveness, creativity, and ingenuity as they build future-ready skills!

Putting a Hammer to the Glass STEM Ceiling – Current Research on Girls in Science

explore the galaxy of hands-on science

Broadening Girls’ perspectives on STEM Careers helps them consider all options from an early age.

The glass ceiling is an invisible, but real barrier in many industries and especially in STEM related fields.  While more and more women are entering science, technology, engineering and mathematical fields, they still only make up a little over a fourth of the workforce.

According to the National Girls Collaborative, only 11% of physicists and astronomers are women while 17% of the civil, architectural, and sanitary engineers are female.  Female chemists make up 35% of the field. The most notable gap in the gender workforce is in the computer and high tech industries. According to Catalyst

Dr. Cathy Olkin from the Southwest Research Institute, is a leading Planetary Scientist and an advocate for girls in STEM Careers.

.org whose mission it is to accelerate growth for women in the workplace, women make up only one-fifth of the job force in that industry.  Also concerning, the women who do work in these fields make 20% less on average in the same role as men. But as a whole, women who work in STEM industries receive a much higher wage than working in other areas.

What does it all mean for Girls in Science?

It means that a growth mindset needs to be embraced by all parties: parents of girls, educators, employers and industries.  More women in the STEM workforce allows companies and industries to develop in ways that don’t just help 50% of the population and increases their relevance to a much larger market.

In a ForbesWoman article, Moira Forbes asks female professionals prolific in their STEM fields of biomolecular and computer engineering, how to narrow the gap. Solutions include educating girls that they don’t have to be Einstein mathematically in order to be successful in a number of STEM fields; likewise, they suggested inspiring and fostering curiosity (in other words, let your daughter take apart that old cracked iPhone).  Brittany Kendrick who has a Master’s of Science in Urban Infrastructure Systems, shared that societal paradigms need to change. “As a Black Woman, a Civil Engineer, bred by the public schools on the southside of Chicago, it is my personal mission to resist the social, economic, and political structures that are in place to discourage my ability and pursuit.” Other girls deserve the same, and so advocacy and enlightenment need to continue.

Dr. Temple Grandin, internationally acclaimed scientist and advocate for hands-on learning suggests that girls need early exposure to STEM subjects in order to develop a passion for them.

Kids will seldom see themselves in careers and fields where they don’t see themselves represented (whether it be gender or race).  The more exposure girls can get to see women in STEM industries will help ignite girls interest and plant the seeds they need to see themselves growing in STEM industries.  Likewise, a girl won’t know her options until she is exposed to them.  The more activities, camps, events where girls can get messy and explore the varied degrees and career opportunities in STEM, the better!

 

lemons, decision making, brainstorm, family, discussion

Turn Lemons into Lemonade – Unusual Inspiration for Family Problem Solving

brainstorm, family, decision making, lemons, lemonade, worst ideasFamily Problem Solving – Upside Down!

Guest post created by Sara Heintzelman from Createdu.org

CreatEdu worked with a high-performing charter school to explore how to foster more independence in their students as they prepared for college. Sometimes we tackle a challenge and we just hit a wall. Good ideas seem to be unattainable and it’s time to try something new. We jumped into a ‘worst-possible idea’ brainstorm to shake things up.

With this new criteria, people worried less about coming up with “good” ideas, and without this pressure, the ideas started flowing. One educator suggested that we have Oprah give every student a car. Another said “Let’s throw kids out of a plane with a parachute to see if they are independent!” Logistically (and from a liability standpoint), taking high school students skydiving was a terrible idea- but then, we dug into this concept further. What training takes place before skydiving? What scaffold for independence is built before you let someone jump out of a plane? (For more about how this program was developed, read the full story here). This “worst-possible idea” ended up inspiring the program that was eventually implemented, and would never have made it onto the table if we’d only focused on coming up with good ideas.

When you shift the way you think and make the process more playful, great ideas can spring from bad ideas. This technique is not about forcing a bad idea to work, rather about using your brain differently and either flipping bad ideas upside down or identifying valuable components in the bad ideas that act as inspiration for great ideas.

Bring it home – Creative Family Problem Solving

At CreatEdu we sometimes bring design thinking into our homes. We can’t help it. The following is a story about how Sara, CreatEdu’s Director of Operations, used the Lemons-to-Lemonade concept to problem solve with her own family:

The Problem

“Despite my own minimalist tendencies, with two grade-school kids, our house is messy and has lots of stuff. So. Many. Toys. After one too many ‘lego vs. barefoot’ incidents, we called a family meeting.”

Me: The toys are a disaster, it looks like a toy bomb went off and we can’t even walk through the house without injury! How can we keep the toys and house cleaner?

All I got was a mumble about mom cleaning them up every day and diverted eyes, but otherwise it was silent. It was time to try something new. It was time for a worst-solution idea brainstorm. Ideas quickly started flowing:

The Worst-Possible Ideas

Kid 1: Lets dump every single toy on the floor and make a toy carpet!

Kid 2: Yeah, and let’s just break all of the toys as we walk over them every day!lemonade, innovation, creativity, brainstorming

Kid 1: Let’s put every toy we own in a garbage bag and throw them out.

Kid 2: Let’s give all of our toys away.

After the ideas slowed down, we looked at all of the crazy, bad, no good, terrible ideas we’d come up with and you know what we saw? Gems, lots of little gems hidden in these bad ideas.

The Creative Family Problem Solving Gems

These worst-possible ideas helped us identify some of the underlying problems with our toys in the first place: we couldn’t find them easily so they get dumped out frequently, they don’t have designated homes so clean up is harder, and there were too many of them (many of which had been outgrown). Once these worst-possible ideas were mined for gems, actual solutions began to evolve and ‘The Toy Capsule System’ was born.

We dumped every toy we owned on the floor (not joking!). Each kid picked 15 toys to keep in the house (art supplies and books were exempt and sets of toys, like legos, counted as 1), everything else went into a donate or storage pile. The storage pile went in clear plastic bins in the garage where toys could be traded (1 toy out, 1 toy in). Toys had homes and were easy to find. There were less of them so clean-up was quick and “shopping” for toys became fun and kept things fresh. This idea would never have been born without a bad case of ‘lego-foot-itis’ that prompted a worst-possible idea brainstorm!”

Try this now!

The next time your family hits a roadblock around a common issue, whether it be:

  • The use of electronics
  • How to get homework done
  • Collaborative decisions about what activities to do together for fun
  • How to get chores done, or something else entirely

Try a worst-possible idea brainstorm. For ideas, download CreatEdu’s ‘CreateEDU’s Lemons to Lemonade Brainstorm Guide’. See if your brainstorm leads to anything exciting. It won’t always, but you might be surprised and it might help diffuse an otherwise challenging family topic (who knows, it could also be fun!).

Still Curious?

Build on your Brainstorm with a Yes, and…

Why Go For the Worst Possible Idea?

Turn Your Ideation Session Upside-down

 

Maker, Escape Room, Tech, Arduino

Rabbit Hole Brings Cool Maker Tech to New Louisville Escape Room

A BOAT to access the outdoors

Written by Micah Leinbach

Hands on Human Interaction – Wilderness classrooms can let kids tinker with society

There’s nothing that can launch you into an internal rant about “kids these days” quite like camping on a Canadian riverbank, swatting mosquitoes while your stomach suffers from a 14 year old’s culinary experimentation with “fried ramen.” But, come morning, with a belly still full of slightly burned, yet undercooked noodles, those same kids will inevitably do something pretty amazing, reminding you that the kids are all right.

As an outdoor educator, I spend most of my time thinking about the “these days” part of the “kids these days” equation. We know experience is a powerful educator. Most kid’s experiences “these days” are defined by certain conditions: routine school schedules, hyperconnectivity, and the social pressures of an age of social media. What if we could change those conditions, just for a while, and let kids write the rules of society?

We want to get more kids into wilderness classrooms in order to do exactly that, so we are launching the Bus for Outdoor Access & Teaching, or “BOAT.” We will use a custom-built school bus (which we are fundraising for right now) to build the most accessible outdoor program in America. With an outdoor program on wheels, we can put a fully-functional wilderness classroom at the front door of any school in the country, then provide the transportation, equipment, and leadership to get them out into the mountains. That means a new set of conditions: schedules the kids control, a chance to disconnect from the outside world, and a chance to play with the social rules that govern a small expedition group.

In outdoor classrooms kids face some pretty fundamental life challenges (where do I sleep? what do I eat?) with creativity, experimentation, and a healthy dose of mistake-making. That also means they learn a ton, especially about working together. After all, just look at…

 

…the kids who built their own government.

Kids in the wilderness don’t see a lot of candy, so it was a big deal when my crew of 20 found a bag of jolly ranchers. Of course there were only 15 pieces, and it’s hard to split a jolly rancher.

What followed was an experiment in civics that rivaled the founding of some nations, with impassioned speeches and pleas for this or that approach to resource allocation. For a moment it looked like the situation would devolve into a dictatorship of a particularly charismatic 11 year old, until she reached for the candy before her case was fully made. She was shouted down and democracy was floated next, with a vote – but a minority insisted on consensus. It took 3 hours, but they came to an agreement – the candy was shunned as “not worth the trouble,” but so was the lengthy consensus process. The group ran elections for every decision from then on.

People often imagine a government of kids turning into a nightmarish Lord of the Flies situation. Just like any invention though, social processes rarely work smoothly the first time. Turns out a government is the same way – but a few decisions in, those kids had built a model of democracy that would make those of us watching today’s national news more than a little jealous.

 

…the kids in the grilled cheese courtroom.

Sean made a beautiful sandwich. The toast was evenly browned, and the cheese bubbled out the edges, but not quite enough to spill. Satisfied, he left it on a plate on a log near the fire, and went to fill his water bottle in the river. When he returned half of it was in the dirt, and half of it was in Joel’s belly.

When kids are running the show, behavior management becomes a question of justice. A gang of 13 year old boys initially leaned towards punitive justice (making Joel clean up the meal) before swiftly moving through retribution (eating Joel’s sandwich), incapacitation (cutting off Joel’s hands), denunciation (simply bad mouthing Joel), before settling on a more restorative approach. Joel would make a new sandwich, and would help develop a system to separate “shared food” from “private food” moving forward. Peace reigned. Speaking of private food…

 

…the wisdom in the peanut butter jar.

At the beginning of a trip group gear is divided up and personal items are stowed away, and the final token of independence is bestowed up each participant. In a world of collectively owned food, one’s “personal peanut butter jar” is sacred. You revel in the knowledge that these precious 16 oz. are yours and yours alone.

You’re likely close to a food source, where control of a peanut butter jar feels small. Not so in a world where every ounce of food is carried on your back. Determining how to use it is a lesson in resource management and a master class in the psychology of gratification. Some squirrel it away – petrified of a mid-trail stomach groan, while others blaze through by the spoonful – not stopping until they hear the scrape of their utensil on the plastic bottom. There are lessons in both strategies, reinforced by satisfied (or empty) stomachs. And peanut butter is far from the only thing that becomes a more powerful teaching tool once the conditions of life become a little more rustic!

 

…the kids who built a fire in the rain.

After a long day of hiking, lounging on the beach during sunset is hard to resist. Despite my best efforts to teach people about the incoming cumulonimbus clouds and what they meant (storms coming!), dinner got pushed further and further back. Soon it was raining, but a fire had to be made. What followed was nothing short of an engineering marvel, as a few tarps, an old poncho, a stick, rope, and a healthy dose of volunteer human columns built a storm-proof cooking fire. The resources were sparse and the weather uncooperative, but we ate our lukewarm soup with pride.

I am a big believer that for kids to succeed in a 21st century economy they will need to tinker, make, and build, as scientists, experimenters and inventors. I’m also a big believer that for the 21st century society to be one worth succeeding in they’ll need to tinker, make, and build better systems of governance, justice, and resource allocation. That means they need practice, and we know just where they can get it – outside.

 

BOAT will make accessing these kinds of programs easier, but we need your help! Once our bus is built, partners in the Denver area can have a fully-functional outdoor program arrive on-site, ready to offer the outdoor experiences while sparing organizations and educators the logistical challenges of pulling them together. In prototypes of the program we were able to offer expeditions of multiple days at 50% the national average cost – we know it can work! Consider supporting BOAT’s campaign campaign for a custom bus, and a model of outdoor education that is easy for anyone to access. If we can raise $2,500 in our Indiegogo by the end of this weekend, we’ll see that amount tripled by a matching program from our board and an anonymous donor. Feel free to reach out to the author, Micah Leinbach, at micah@theBOATbus.com with questions or to get updates when BOAT launches.

 

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Mobile Maker Kits – BVSD Maker Ed.

By Kristie Veitch

Mobile Maker Kits are a part of BVSDs new initiative to bring “learning by doing” back in classrooms. Read all about them here.

mobile maker kitSo, you’re looking at this mobile maker kit thinking, “my students will enjoy it but how do I turn this into activities that generate rigorous learning?” Kids love making and they become wildly engaged and we’ve got you covered on harnessing energy and interest into learning and exceeding standards.

For starters, Makey Makey can provide you and your students with an incredibly smooth ramp into Arduino and what’s known as “physical computing” while also offering a flexible tool that can help your student inventors integrate noises, buzzers, and signals into projects. Try building your own as the inspiration to understand types of numbers. You can do even more with Makey Makey and Scratch programming, tying in lots of subjects: teach history while meeting CCSS ELA standards or teach mitosis, programming, and making together!  If you need a ramp into integrating Makey Makey and Scratch, this project can help.

Sphero Edu also has a platform full of activities designed to bring making, creativity, and learning together. Learn about morse code and write secret messages, model planetary motion and you can even find projects that combine Makey Makey and Sphero to model more complex phenomena like this Workbench project on phases of the moon!

Workbench has hundreds of projects ready to go, many using the tools in your kits. The best part is, you can also create a free account that will allow you to turn your back of the napkin project idea into a project, share it with colleagues, set up classes, assign projects, and track your students’ progress. AS your maker kits change, and you discover new uses, Workbench Platform will help you organize, deploy, and develop the best ideas for your classes.

 

 

Gathering STEAM at home!

Written by Patricia Jarvis, Ph.D. /Bixby School  

We all have a wonderful challenge:

Our children are born as creators, scientists, thinkers, and makers! Yet how do we nurture and foster their natural curiosity at home? How do we create spaces at home that support their explorations and allow for the all important “messing about” and process of discovery?

Here is a short list of ideas that could turn into an amazing family experience!

  • Start with a clean surface and space that can become a maker station in your home. (You so not have to have a large home to do this!). Think outside the box (Do you have an underused table or kitchen desk? Is this an indoor or outdoor space?)
  • Look into possibilities with your child on how to stock the area. If it is hard to decide, use your local resources: the art store, Resource, Pinterest for ideas. What grabs a current interest? Is there something new you want to try out?
  • Think big or really little! Children often enjoy building big or tinkering little. Think about the scale of what they are interested in.
  • Materials do not have to be expensive! Recyclables, loose parts, and natural materials from outside are all great choices to get started.
  • Make space and time for your new area of exploration. Would it be fun to go there after breakfast on weekends or at the end of a long day? Would it be fun to explore with your child before you step back and let his/her creative juices flow? Offer a “maker’s jam” to your child: get comfy in old T-shirts than can handle paint and turn on some tunes-then create, invent, and tinker away!

A first project idea: A catapult!

Challenge: How many ways can you built a table size catapult?

Possible parts and pieces for your maker’s space:

  • Rubber bands (different types)
  • 20 pencils
  • Spoons
  • Pompom balls
  • Craft sticks
  • Hot glue gun
  • Elmer’s glue
  • Paper clips
  • Markers
  • Construction Paper
  • Scissors

Send us a photo your design (email it to patriciaj@bixbyschool.org) and we will share it here at Bixby School with our makers in their brand-new makers’ studio! You will have a chance to win a prize!

Robotics, workshops, science, experiences, innovative, boulder, robots

Meet a Maker – Innovative Experiences and Andrew Donaldson

Robotics and Science and Fun… Oh My!

Meet amazing maker, Andy Donaldson and his exciting new STEAM Workshop and Camp company, Innovative Experiences.  Innovative Experiences provides STEAM Workshops that include robotics, science, engineering, arts, making and more!

Innovative Experience’s workshops for tween, teens, and adults with a variety of activities and costs to meet a variety of needs.  They offer everything from a couple hours to play with different materials and make something, up to a 4-day Robotics camp or the weekly Innovators Club. What makes IE different from other Maker spaces or STEAM workshops is that they provide unique, thought-provoking activities that allow you to explore all the possible solutions while also expanding your understanding of how things can work together.

What workshops are offered?

Atlanta, GA, USA - March 28, 2015: Kids attempt to drop bottle caps into a cup using a prosthetic arm and hooks, at a Georgia Tech prosthetics exhibit at the Atlanta Science Fair in Centennial Park in Atlanta.

Starting in September, these are the workshops that will be offered:

  • Roborobo Workshop: Wednesdays Sept 21 – October 26. 6 – 8 pm. We will use the Roborobo kits to build and program many different robots throughout the week.  Participants end with an activity that will requires them to use creativity to design, build and program a robot that isn’t part of the guided activities.
  • Innovators Club: Each week, participants decide to start or continue the previous project. Each project will focus on inventing or improving an existing technology.  Work happens individually and/or in groups to design and build something that hasn’t existed before.  Participants will be an integral part of the decisions made around the activities offered at Innovative Experiences.
  • Hourly workshops: Guided activities using a variety of resources and materials. Participants can take home most of what they make or just play with the materials. New activities will constantly be offered and are focused on Engineering, Arts and Science such as bridge building and other architectural projects, robotics, Little Bits, 3D printing and projection mapping, making ice cream with dry- ice and liquid nitrogen, pumpkin carving, winter activities, design a board game or invent something that solves a problem!

Innovative Experiences RoboRobo workshop.

What happens at the RoboRobo Workshop?

In the Roborobo workshop, participants start by building basic robots and learning basic construction and programming on the first day! The second day is for exploring other robots and practice programming them.  On the third day, challenges are added to make an existing robot do something new.  The last day consists of working in teams to design, build and program a unique robot that can accomplish a specific task such as go over obstacles, or destroy the opposing team’s castle with a projectile.  The best part is, you get to keep the robotics kit as part of the workshop and can practice building and playing at home between workshops. Parents are welcome and encouraged to join us to practice using the robots and share a new activity with your child. If you really enjoyed the workshop, don’t worry! The fun doesn’t stop there. With six levels of Roborobo kits to choose from, you can keep coming back for more fun activities and expand your robotics collection.

 

What makes Innovative Experiences different from a Maker space?

The goal of Innovative Experiences, says Donaldson, “is to provide experiences that inspire creativity, have real-world application and make learning fun.”

While many Maker spaces are great for exploring and learning, many teens are not aware of them or interested because there is no goal. IE will offer fun and inspirational activities to show teens how their knowledge can be applied in the real world. Finally, the costs of belonging to a Maker space and providing materials or attending similar camps/ workshops can be expensive. Innovative Experiences offers workshops in a safe atmosphere, at an affordable cost.

About Andy

Andy Donaldson has spent the better part of a decade working as an educator. His passions include working with students, finding creative ways to learn, and working with his hands. Recently, Andy noticed that the growth of the STEAM movement has targeted younger age groups and provided an opportunity that hasn’t really been fulfilled in secondary education.  That is the inspiration for Innovative Experiences.  To offer fun, affordable activities to inspire creativity and relate to real world knowledge. Andy is also involved with the XQ Bolder Super High School project.

Please visit the website for more information and like us on Facebook.

Upcoming events:

September 21 – October 26, 2016 – Beginner Robotics Workshop – Wednesdays from 6 – 8 pm.  At the Boulder Center for Conscious Community (BC3) 1637 28th Street, Boulder, CO 80301

www.myschoolportals.com

www.facebook.com/innovativeexperiences

gofund.me/innovex

title-5

crossbeams, building, making, maker

Building Fun with Crossbeams

Crossbeams – Building Made Easy (and Fun!)

We caught up with Charles Sharman, creator of the most-excellent building toy, Crossbeams. His story is exactly what we’re all about at Maker Bolder – seeing an opportunity and making something to meet the need.  Here’s his story.

The Aim of Crossbeams

“Dad, can we make a maglev train?” This question, posed by my five-year-old son, sparked the beginning of Crossbeams.  Whether it’s a spaceship, a skyscraper, an animal, or a maglev train, all of us want to make and create.  It’s in our blood.  But when it comes to actually doing it, the task can be overwhelming.  You may have to know trigonometry, algebra, mechanics, thermodynamics, electronics, art, drafting, machining, and more.  I designed Crossbeams to simplify the building task.  You dream, and Crossbeams helps you create.

Many creative platforms exist for younger ages.  Yet many younger active creators become passive consumers as they age, immersed in video games, social media, smart phones, and television.  I designed Crossbeams to hold the interest of older and advanced creators.

Dreams to Reality

Making Crossbeams’ a reality wasn’t easy, particularly with a full-time job and family.  First, I had to enhance my knowledge. During late nights and early mornings, I taught myself mechanics, gear design, and machining.  I studied the limitations of current building systems and identified enhancements.  A plethora of piece-types limits some building systems.  According to Mark Changizi and others building system’s creativity is enhanced by minimizing piece-types an maximizing the ways pieces connect.  Delicacy limits some building systems.  I wanted a model car that could crash into the wall without disintegrating.  Finally, straight lines and boxiness limits some building systems.  I wanted to accurately replicate lines and surfaces.

Next, I needed a way to try out pieces in a complete model without blowing the bank on prototyping costs.  I wanted to ensure models
looked appealing and the piece-types were minimal.  I created the Crossbeams Modeller, a software tool to virtually connect Crossbeams pieces.
I started with three core models:

I believed a building toy that could closely replicate these models could closely replicate many more.  Initially, the models took more than 160 piece-types.  After much work, I narrowed it to the 47 piece-types used today.

crossbeams, engineering, maker, making, STEAM, boulder

Crossbeams can be assembled to support great weights and pressures.

Finally, I needed a sturdy joint that locks pieces much more strongly than the joints in children’s building toys.  Children’s building toys use friction-based joints; the force to connect is equal to the force to disconnect.  That causes an inherent trade-off.  If you make it stronger, you make it harder to assemble.  Instead, I based my joint on a cotter pin two-motion joint.  A two-motion joint unrelates the join force and separation force.  I started with a cotter pin, and it evolved into our patented, simple slide-and-twist joint.

The Future of Crossbeams

While Crossbeams has captured much of its original intent, we still have far to go.  Ages 10-12 and 20+ make our largest customer base. We haven’t captured the hearts of young adults, for whom the system was intended.

We designed Crossbeams from the ground up to handle electronics but later tabled electronics to maintain our debt-free principle.  Most of the electronics package is designed and ready.  Once sales grow, we can make my son’s maglev.

Success won’t be judged by money in the bank but by a sampling of society.  Whether it’s Crossbeams, musical compositions, stories, or painting, once young adults are known for their creating instead of their consuming, our work is done.