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Our kids need better Science Kits like the great ones from the 50's and 60's you can help do that and launch a makerspace too.
Our kids need better Science Kits like the great ones from the 50's and 60's you can help do that and launch a makerspace too.
119 backers pledged $6,523 to help bring this project to life.

About this project

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$6,523

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Your support for this project is a vote for quality hands-on STEM educational kits for use in homes and schools. If I reach my stretch goals you'll also be helping to build my dream Educational Maker Space with community and global outreach.  

In the 1950's and 1960's companies like A.C. Gilbert and REMCO made educational science kits that were sold as popular toys. Kids were excited about the Space Race, parents were supportive of their kids learning new high tech and high science concepts, and schools were racing to be competitive in the fields we now call STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math). Kits covered topics like how gears work, the anatomy of the human body, chemistry, electronics, radio, architecture, even radiation. Older kids could work with their parents to build a Heath Kit and build all kinds of working electronic products (even Ham radios and TV sets). Somewhere along the line we seem to have lost that hands-on spirit and as kids became more interested in computer and video games the science kits started to dry up. At the same time schools started to do less hands-on science and hands-on projects. 

There are science kits available today for school use, and some on big box store shelves but I've found that too many of them seem to be low dollar, low quality throw away items with few (if any) instructions. The majority of them aren't made in the USA either. I want to change all of that and bring back quality, durable, educational STEM kits for both home use and for schools. At the same time I want to convince parents, kids, and those investing in our future through education that STEM is important and worthy of investment. 

Why I Need / How I'll Use the Funds

I've been making “Reinventing Science” STEM kits since 2004. The first two Reinventing Science kits have received several recognitions including:

  • Finalist in the 2014 Martha Stewart “American Made” awards. (Will find out if I have won one of ten winning spots later this year)
  • Helped to get me an invitation as one of 16 “Honored Maker Attendees” to the first ever White House Maker Faire in June 2014
  • Picked as one of 11 Best STEM Kits in the 2011 Make Magazine “Ultimate Kit Guide”
  • Voted a Top 10 STEM Christmas Gift by the Geek Mom/Geek Dad Blog
  • Best Seller with Edmund Scientific

Although the kits have had these recognitions they are still relatively unknown. To put it simply I need to do more to market the kits and raise awareness. I need to create better retail packaging, improve my website, and invest more into spreading the word. With increased sales I can create and launch new kits that right now are just ideas. With more kits and more sales I can also create jobs and more educational outreach.

Working towards goals for expansion I've created the prototype for a new “Reinventing Electromagnetism" kit and am working with a talented graphic artist on new logos and other artwork. We will be exhibiting with the kits at World Maker Faire in New York City on September 20th and 21st and at the Atlanta Maker Faire on October 4th and 5th.

If this KickStarter is fully funded the money will be used to:

  • Create new packaging, update the Harris Educational website, and expand marketing outreach.
  • Get “Reinventing Electromagnetism” into production (producing the rewards for this campaign, marketing samples, and initial inventory)
  • Finalize video and instructions for the “EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator” (a high school product for teaching troubleshooting skills in the context of electric vehicles)
  • Stretch Goal: Add to existing seed money to purchase a building and outfit an educational maker space that Harris Educational will share with our community. (see more below)

About Your Rewards

All Rewards include US Shipping Costs. All rewards except the EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator will be produced and shipped by December 2014 (in time for Christmas in case they become gifts) 

$5: Our eternal gratitude and your name on our list of supporters on the Harris Educational website.

$12: Customized “I Helped Reinventing Science” key chain CNC engraved with your name, the name of your child, or your school.  

$25: Reinventing Electromagnetism STEM Kit. This is a limited edition customized kit. I will engrave your, your child's, or your school's name onto the base. Once these are available for sale in 2015 they will sell for $29.95 + shipping and of course the retail models will not be custom engraved.

"Reinventing Electromagnetism" STEM Kit (Working Prototype)
"Reinventing Electromagnetism" STEM Kit (Working Prototype)

“Reinventing Electromagnetism” is Harris Educational's newest STEM kit. Includes everything (other than a battery) necessary to build a working single-loop simple DC motor and multi-turn compass galvanometer. Includes powerful neodymium magnets. (Recommended for ages 8 and up under the supervision of an adult: caution small parts, choking hazard) Teaches concepts of magnetism, electromagnetism, electric current. 

Why is this kit better than similar kits?

  • Easy to understand online instruction manual - including video
  • Designed to be durable for reuse
  • Modular (use the switch, galvanometer, and test leads for other experiments)
  • Built-in coil winding arbor for the motor coil
  • Uses hook-up wire instead of magnet wire to save on hassle and expense
  • Made in the USA

$52: Limited edition/Custom Reinventing Edison: Build your own Light Bulb STEM Kit. Custom engraved with your, your child's, or your school's name on the base. 

"Reinventing Edison: Build your own Light Bulb" STEM Kit (shown with pencil lead carbon filament)
"Reinventing Edison: Build your own Light Bulb" STEM Kit (shown with pencil lead carbon filament)

Reinventing Edison” is Harris Educational's first and best selling STEM kit. The kit lets you recreate the steps Edison (and other inventors) took to create the first practical incandescent light bulb. Experimenters use a safety vacuum chamber and hand vacuum pump to work with several included filament materials (including Carbon Pencil Lead, Tungsten, and others). Along the way you learn about voltage and current, air pressure, history, invention, properties of matter, and more. 

Kit includes safety vacuum experiment chamber, hand vacuum pump, filament materials, test leads, and 28 page full color instruction manual with multiple experiments. (kit requires two 6-volt Alkaline lantern batteries for proper operation) Recommended for ages 12 and up under supervision of an adult.

Watch as grandfather and video blogger John Kopp builds a Reinventing Edison kit with his grandson. 

Why is this kit better than similar kits?

  • There really aren't any similar kits out there! This kit is unique!
  • Includes safety vacuum chamber and hand vacuum pump
  • Includes filament materials like Tungsten
  • 28 page easy to understand instruction manual with multiple experiments
  • Durable and reusable
  • Made in the USA! 

$52: Limited Edition/Custom Reinventing Morse: Build your own Telegraph STEM Kit. Custom engraved with your, your child's, or your school's name on the base. 

"Reinventing Morse: Build your own Telegraph" STEM Kit
"Reinventing Morse: Build your own Telegraph" STEM Kit

 “Reinventing Morse” lets you recreate the steps that Morse (and other inventors) took to create the first practical electrical telegraph. Experimenters wind their own electromagnet coil on one of two coil bobbins using the built-in coil winding arbor and construct a working telegraph. The kit is also designed to work as a relay or a buzzer. Multiple kits can be connected together to make a communications system. 

Kit includes a two piece frame that is used to construct the telegraph, telegraph key, two coil winding bobbins (for comparing the strength of different lengths of wire), test leads, 100 feet of hookup wire, and 24 page full color instruction manual with multiple experiments. (Requires a 9-volt or 6-volt Alkaline Lantern Battery)

Why is this kit better than similar kits? 

  • Sounder is designed to click on up and down motion of the arm (allowing distinction of dots and dashes) like a real telegraph
  • Designed to use hookup wire to save on the hassle and expense of magnet wire
  • Designed for qualitative and quantitative experiments
  • Works as a Sounder, Relay, and Buzzer
  • Durable and long lasting 
  • 24 page easy to understand instruction manual with multiple experiments
  • Made in the USA!

$112: Reinventing Science Megapack. One each of Reinventing Electromagnetism, Reinventing Edison, and Reinventing Morse. {note: these are not custom engraved as the rewards above, the value in this reward is in the discounted pricing for bundling}

All the Reinventing Science kits make great educational Christmas presents (especially since they'll be custom engraved). If you don't want one for yourself, or don't know of a good person to give one to as a gift, why not get one and gift it to a school? 

$285: EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator (Limited Edition choose your own custom color for the control panel, pick from Red, Blue, Green, Black, or White) 

Later production edition EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulators will retail for $299 and will only be available in black. 

EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator
EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator

The EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator was born out of collaboration between Harris Educational and the EV Challenge. The EV Challenge is a high school program where kids take donated gasoline vehicles and convert them into fully electric vehicles. The students then compete in a race event that also includes a troubleshooting challenge. 

Students Practicing with the EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator at the 2014 EV Challenge Event
Students Practicing with the EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator at the 2014 EV Challenge Event

Harris Educational created this trainer so that every school in the competition could afford to have one in their program. It is designed to teach principles of EV circuits, failure modes, and logical and safe troubleshooting skills. It is my hope that the EV Challenge program will grow to include more schools and more student groups from around the country. 

So far we only have 12 units at the schools involved in the EV Challenge event. This KickStarter campaign will help me finish video and instructions and get this trainer into more schools. 

Going Further: Stretch Goals... Opening a Maker Space

In 2011 I exhibited Reinventing Science Kits at the San Mateo Maker Faire. That year they had a Maker Space Challenge and my eyes were opened to the possibilities of adding hands-on to community and education. I've been working to bring this back to my community and also reach out beyond local bounds to give something back to everyone. 

Photo from an early Alamance Makers Guild meeting in 2012
Photo from an early Alamance Makers Guild meeting in 2012

I founded Alamance Makers Guild in Alamance County, North Carolina and we started holding meetings to share ideas and projects. We work together to produce the Burlington Mini Maker Faire (our 4th will be April 25th, 2015). Together we've launched a teen chapter of the Makers Guild to connect mentors to kids so that they can learn skills and values. We've started working with local schools, the library system, and other leaders in the area. I publish free resources for educators and makers on my website, Facebook page, blog, and YouTube channel.

My hope, and our hope together (as Alamance Makers Guild) is to launch a Maker Space in Alamance County, NC. 

Funds from the sale of Reinventing Science kits are already used to help support the Guild and the Burlington Mini Maker Faire but we have to raise a more money if we are going to buy a building, add tools like a Laser Cutter and 3D printers, and successfully launch a space. My vision for the space includes video blogging about projects and lots of resources and content generation that will benefit the global maker community, educators, and students. 

Once we've passed the initial goal of this Kickstarter campaign any additional funds generated will be used towards the goal of buying and opening a space. 

Thank You!

Thanks for taking the time to check out this project. Please consider sharing it with your friends. I've grown as much as I have so far purely on the power of sharing and on community.

See Me and the Kits in Action

I will be exhibiting the Reinventing Science Kits at the following events during the duration of this KickStarter campaign:

World Maker Faire (New York City):
Saturday September 20th and Sunday September 21st 

Maker Faire Atlanta (Atlanta, Georgia):
Saturday October 4th and Sunday October 5th

Alamance Makers Guild October Meeting (Burlington, North Carolina):
Thursday October 9th, 7:00pm 

Come see the value of Reinventing Science kits in person and learn more about our Maker Space plans! 

Risks and challenges

Risks for fulfillment for this project are low.

Harris Educational already has tools, jigs, and supply chain established for our existing kits and are ready to deal with customized engraving on the parts. Should we make our stretch goals and have a lot of kits to produce we have volunteers standing by from the Alamance Makers Guild to add labor to the project.

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Support this project

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge $5 or more About $5

    Our Gratitude and your name on our list of Supporters on the Harris Educational Website.

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    Pledge $12 or more About $12

    Customized "I Helped Reinventing Science" CNC Cut/Engraved Keychain with your name engraved on it + Your name on our list of Supporters on the Harris Educational Website.

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    Pledge $25 or more About $25

    Limited Edition "Reinventing Electromagnetism Kit" with your, your child's, or your school's name custom engraved on the base. (includes US shipping costs) Available by early December 2014

    + Your name on our list of Supporters on the Harris Educational Website

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    Pledge $52 or more About $52

    Limited Edition Custom Engraved "Reinventing Edison: Build your own Light Bulb" STEM Science Kit custom engraved with your, your child's, or your school's name on the base. Available by early December 2014

    (Includes US Shipping Costs)

    + Your name on our list of Supporters on the Harris Educational Website

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    Limited 19 backers
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge $52 or more About $52

    Limited Edition Custom Engraved "Reinventing Morse: Build your own Telegraph" STEM Science Kit custom engraved with your, your child's, or your school's name on the base. Available by early December 2014

    (Includes US Shipping Costs)

    + Your name on our list of Supporters on the Harris Educational Website

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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge $112 or more About $112

    Reinventing Science Megapack
    Includes 1 each:
    Reinventing Edison: Build your own Light Bulb Kit
    Reinventing Morse: Build your own Telegraph Kit
    Reinventing Electromagnetism Kit
    (NOTE: these are NOT custom engraved)

    + Your name on our list of Supporters on the Harris Educational Website

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    Limited 28 backers
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge $285 or more About $285

    Limited Edition EV Challenge Troubleshooting Simulator. (Choose your own custom color for the panel: Green, Red, Blue, Black, White)

    + Your name on our list of Supporters on the Harris Educational Website

    (Includes US Shipping Costs)

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Funding period

- (33 days)