About this project
Thank you so much to all our backers and those who spread the word. It has been so inspiring for us to see this campaign succeed. We think everyone who contributed to this project will look back in a year or two and feel proud of what we accomplished -- together. Thank you for your support and belief in us.
We look forward to fulfilling backer rewards, celebrating with many of you at our Kickstarter party, and of course: creating the Magic Box!
If you have an idea you want to try to make real or would like to discuss how we can collaborate, please get in touch.
- We are currently the #4 most successfully Kickstarter makerspace campaign!
- We just got an endorsement from Bunnie - international super hacker! (update #6)
- Make Magazine covered our kickstarter.
- Reality Sandwich did too.
The mission of the Magic Box is to:
Inspire non-makers with the possibilities of making/creation. Educate people of all ages and backgrounds about the creative and pragmatic use of digital fabrication, engineering, and design through hands-on creation.
- Help existing makers, including ourselves, do more through easy access to mobile, digital fabrication infrastructure (e.g., laser cutter, 3D printers and scanners, electronics tools, hand tools, etc.)
Using the infrastructure of a box truck outfitted with all the tools needed to create almost anything, from light art to prototype solutions for real-world problems, we will hold educational, creative workshops leveraging our distilled teaching experience from nearly 40 classes with teens on subjects ranging from Dancing Robots to Brainwave Art to Smart Fashion; the passionate know-how of one lifelong creator and one less experienced but equally passionate one; and a network of awesome experienced creators.
Our initial infrastructure will include a large laser cutter (for human scale rapid prototyping), 3D printers, 3D scanner, hand tools, an Arduino lab, modular robotics components, sensors, alternative energy, sound, video and lighting equipment... and crafting materials.
The Magic Box will be based in SF Bay area, With frequent trips to along the west coast: your funding will help us go further.
OUR GOAL AND APPROACH
We seek to create a self-perpetuating cycle of Sustainable Magic through Inspiring, Creating, & Educating!
- Inspire. Inspiration is at the heart of our approach. We act as a mobile art/innovation gallery, holding free, public, outdoor interactive “magical” art exhibitions to show people what’s possible, and ignite curiosity and passion to learn the secrets of “how”.
- Create. We’ll enable experienced and first-timers to create amazing things using the awesome toolset of the Magic Box. Either through rapid-creation/micro workshops, or through or more in-depth ones.
- Educate. In our workshops, experienced, passionate creators & educators will guide people to create for the first time, or help advance the abilities of those with experience. We’ll empower people with knowledge and the ability to rapidly problem-solve. The result? More confident, creative, capable people throughout the world.
WHAT WILL WE DO WITH THE MAGIC BOX?
We will travel to different cities to present free interactive art shows outdoors to inspire curiosity, and provide a mix of paid and free/pay-as-you-can creativity workshops of varying lengths/intensities and topics. We will be found at a variety of venues, including: businesses, schools, colleges and universities, festivals, coworking spaces, other maker spaces, the park, the beach... you name it!
Though we are starting on the west coast, this is just the beginning. Our vision is to create a network of Magic Boxes, makerspaces, and makers across the country, brought together by a desire to inspire, create, and educate... We want to be a resource that helps bring people together, and makes bigger things possible.
WHO IS IT FOR?
Just about everybody!
- Most ages, backgrounds, and skill levels: We have successfully shared our knowledge with 10 year old students to 50 year old teachers in professional development programs, all with different backgrounds.
- Individuals or groups: a few friends or a large group, a team or department at a work, a group of students or an entire class.
- For self-directed experienced creators: our mobile infrastructure will be available as a mobile maker space; to hold an educational workshop; or to exhibit/share creations with the public.
- For the unsuspecting! We’ll do guerrilla interactive art exhibits with rapid-creation stations--as an “experiential food truck for the mind” to surprise, “wow”, and pull people into the act of creation. We believe some we reach will become “hooked”, and visit a local makerspace, take a workshop with us, or just go on to self-educate and experiment.
With your help funding our mobile infrastructure, we plan to “feed the creativity” of at least 1000 people over the next year. And that’s just the first year. But first we need the mobile infrastructure!
WHAT CAN PEOPLE LEARN FROM THE MAGIC BOX?
Through our project-based educational approach, people will learn a mix of technical skills (all those needed to create a project) and interpersonal skills (e.g., collaboration and communication ), as well as how to become rapid problem-solvers -- able to do more, faster. We’ve found that the experience of taking an idea from concept to execution is amazingly empowering, and even if everyone doesn’t continue to create tangible things after a workshop, the experience helps people become more active, happier participants in their lives.
Projects will typically include some combination of electronics, Arduino, CAD, programming, music production, robotics, product design, rapid prototyping, electronics, networking, energy conversion, usability, photography/videography, and others.
To provide some examples, check out this video of some of the results from our classes at award-winning MIT-associated NuVu Studio in Cambridge, MA.
Each project was created in two weeks by high school students with our guidance.
The Magic Robot Flowers seen at the beginning of this campaign's video were also originally created in a 2-week studio with high school students. Check out the following video to watch their evolution.
The Magic Box is education far beyond STEM and STEAM -- it’s about sharing one of the most powerful human experiences: realizing an idea and inspiring others with it. Once you are a creator, the magic is yours to share
BUDGET (The Bare Necessities)
- Large laser cutter: $10,000
- Used box truck (plus 1 year insurance & registration): $8,000
- Total: $18,000
$18k is just the minimum so we can be mobile and functional.
We'll be able to bootstrap this project with our existing gear, 100% dedication to the long term vision of this project, and pure resourcefulness. We do already have one 3D printer, some hand tools, arduinos and sensors, lighting, sound and video gear as well as alt-energy building blocks from our ongoing Sustainable Sound project.
To help beyond backing us, please visit our our landing page and share some of the media linked there.
SO, WHAT IS THE MAGIC BOX? WHAT IS IN IT?
It’s a truck loaded with possibility. It could be a School, a Fab Lab, an Art Gallery, a Media Lab, or a Night Club.
It’s a mobile high-tech workshop to allow us to demonstrate and educate people about how easy creating can be. It’s a resource that we intend to share to help show off the things people have created, and help make more inspiring things.
Some of our tools/gear will include (depending on funding):
- Laser cutter, 80 watt with big 4’ by 3’ cutting area (for rapid human-scale prototyping)
- Multiple 3D printers
- 3D scanner
- Electronics/Arduino Lab
- Black Light / Fluorescent Crafting supplies
- Mini Science lab/Networked Sensor Array
- Modular robotics lab
- Video Projectors
- Sound System
- Solar Panels & Bike Pedal generator for off the grid experiments
WHERE WILL THE MAGIC BOX GO?
We expect to travel to LA, San Diego, Reno and Las Vegas with some regularity. With more funding we can go further, to more places. Each time we go to an area to do a workshop, we will also do a free outdoor interactive art and exhibit “problem-solving” prototypes to get people excited and to show them possibilities. Our ultimate stretch goal is a USA tour!
Thank you in advance for your support making this happen. Even if you can only donate a $1, that shows you believe in us. And if you share our campaign with those you know, that magnifies your help. However much you can contribute: know that every dollar you put into this project will be used to inspire and enable creativity, making the world a more beautiful, exuberant, and intelligent place to live. We hope to move humanity forward.
Help make this real. Help us spread magic in the world -- be part of the magic!
- Sean Stevens and Ashley Newton: Founders, Sustainable Magic
Who We Are
The Core Team
- Sean Stevens (Co-Founder) - Sean loves to combine science, art and design to inspire people to go “Wow!”, to question the world around them. For the past three years, he's been teaching at award winning NuVu Studio in Cambridge, MA, running many two week long immersive workshops showing high school students that they can create world-class projects if they are willing to work for it. He also leads lighting for the Dr. Brainlove art car, debuted at Burning Man 2014. Sean has been designing a modular pedal- and solar-powered party system over the years through sister project Sustainable Sound, including a pedal-powered Burning Man art car 2010-2012. Sean's experience includes everything from creating real-time interactive audio/video environments to Robotics for Art to Biotech Automation to event organization and community building. He has also collaborated with well known artist Raghava KK on numerous projects including a project for TED. In 2007, Sean accidentally shut down the entire city of Boston with LEDs.
- Ashley Newton (Co-founder) - Ashley loves rainbows, robots, and LEDS, and teaching others to create! In two years, she went from not knowing how to make much beyond good food and detailed but uninspiring market analysis reports, to making refined versions of the interactive robotic flowers, and various wearable art and fiber optic sculptures that commonly elicits the reaction, "OH MY GOD THAT IS SO BEAUTIFUL!” She began teaching workshops at NuVu Studio in Cambridge, MA in early 2013, helping teens invent and then realize awesome project ideas. Her journey through creating has transformed her sense of agency in the world, and led to a series of decisions to improve her life and others. (She quit her job in Market Research in 2013 and moved to SF to focus on creating Sustainable Magic.) Ashley’s background is in Cognitive Science (Smith College) and Market Research. She also co-leads lighting for the Dr. Brainlove art car, and designed the 3D printed light "nodes" on it.
Collaborators & Coaches:
- You? We will be curating creative, experienced, and (of course) FUN people to share their techniques in Magic Box workshops.
- WALA - Pioneering electronic music producer and performer, WALA has risen to esteemed musician status, traveling to festivals and clubs across the US to share her unique, bass-heavy music that blends many genres and sounds into powerful, scintillating sounds.
- Micah Elizabeth Scott - Tech Trailblazer, LED artist, and creator of Fadecandy. Micah Elizabeth Scott has been doing unconventional things with technology her whole life, often exploring the boundaries between hardware and software. She's built satellites, robots, virtual machines, graphics drivers, CPU emulators, networking stacks, USB controllers, reverse engineering tools, and pretty much everything in between. Recently she's been exploring the interactions between technology and art. Her current work explores light, perception, and human interconnectedness.
- Mikaela Holmes - Mikaela is an artist and designer with a bachelor's degree in Visual Art from Brown University and an associate's degree in Fashion Design from The Fashion Institute of Technology. Mikaela's work combines couture-caliber craftsmanship with digital fabrication technologies and innovative materials such as laser-cutting, 3D printing, electroluminescent wire and LEDs to produce unique garments for extraordinary environments. Mikaela's work has appeared on runways, in musical and theatrical performances, galleries, music videos, wedding ceremonies, parties, deserts and hyperreal everyday lives. She lives and works in San Francisco where she recently completed a Residency at the Autodesk/Instructables Studio.
- Tess Aquarium - Textile Hacker & Futuristic Fashionista, Tess has been crafting with fabric since a child, seeking to blend whimsy with utilitarian. She's created custom garments, costumes, and tech-enabled attire, as well as coached a number of awesome workshops at NuVu Studio. (Check out all the studios she's coached!) Many of the projects she worked with students on ended up in Boston Fashonweek!
- Elena Kulikova - A true artist and professional photographer, Elena Kulikova creates more than images, expanding and deepening her creativity through multi-layered processes to create vibrant and explosive visuals. By literally growing crystals onto her photographs, Kulikova transforms the ordinary into the supernatural, bringing together the human and the elemental. Elena is also creating a beautiful artistic photo of our Magic Flowers as one of our Kickstarter rewards!
- CODAME - CODAME is a nonprofit organization that promotes collaboration between artists and technologists interested in building the future, where imagination is the only limit. CODAME aims to demystify technology to artists and recognize the value of art as a vital activity for innovation. It holds nonprofit ART+TECH events to inspire people through experience, and runs the CODAME Adopt Program to catalyze collaboration between innovative new media artists and visionary technology companies.
Advisors & Support:
- Andrew "bunnie" Huang - General advisor/support
- Mark Kriegsman - Parental Supervision, Parent-Child workshop coach
Raghava KK - "Changing the World with Creativity" Advisor
- Saeed Arida (NuVu) - Special Executive Advisor
- David Wang (NuVu) - Science Advisor
- Saba Ghole (NuVu) - Special Creative Advisor
Kachina Gosselin - Partnerships & Outreach
- Dina Abou Karam - Social Outreach & Enthusiastic moral support
- Natalie Evans - Videography and sound, outreach support
Special Thanks to the Phage community for project feedback and support. We couldn't have done this without you.
All backers will be thanked on our website and invited to our Kickstarter party in SF (and you can grab a ticket later).
All who donate over $500 will have their names etched onto a laser cut plaque of immortal appreciation on our laser cutter!
Please see our FAQ where we answer some questions on rewards.
We have many rewards, ranging from physical things such as stickers, hoodies, pendants, photo prints, and robot flowers; to experiences including events, parties, workshops, and consultations.
Rewards will be available for pick up in SF or at our Kickstarter party if ready in time. Otherwise we’ll mail you the rewards. International backers will need to pay an additional shipping fee depending on the reward
Most workshops will begin in early 2015, though a few will be available before the holidays.
Drawing on over four combined years of experience coaching high school students to rapidly prototype and learn at award winning MIT-associated NuVu Studio in Cambridge, MA, we will inspire and guide people through the creation process so that they learn the skills needed to make their ideas real.
Workshops will be offered in a variety of lengths and intensities to enable those with a range of experiences, interests and budgets to participate. Ranging from short and introductory (a day or weekend), to in-depth sessions (a week or more/multiple evenings, etc.), we will ensure people can learn the skills to fully develop and realize an idea.
We’ve organized our workshops into a few major categories or “Levels” to help you better understand the complexity and components of the workshop.
Unless stated in the specific reward, workshops will include reasonable amounts of basic materials, but you’re responsible for the costs of electronics, etc., in your final project if you keep them -- approximately $50 (e.g., Arduino, sensors, motors, LEDs, battery, etc.). (Otherwise we’ll recycle the supplies back into future workshops to keep costs low.) You can also bring your own electronics (check with us first to make sure they will work).
Workshops will be about more than making physical things, and will include abstract creation, such as music, visual arts, games, performances, and events. Of course physical creation will be a major component of many workshops as well.
We believe learning is best led by inspiration and through the experience of trial and error, guided by those with experience and technical skill who can coach the student -- but who do not profess to know all the answers; instead, they are there to journey with the student through the creative-learning-making process. The goal of our workshops is to enable learning through breaking free from the traditional educational model of imbalanced power between teacher and student, of extrinsic motivation and dry structure.
If you select one of the “we’ll throw you a magic party”, team workshop, or send us to a school or city, we’ll work with you to schedule a time within the next 18 months that works for us all. If there’s a timeframe that is extra important to you, we’ll really try to make it work. Please talk to us to learn more / discuss details.
Now For Some Videos!
Descriptions below video. And once this Kickstarter campaign is over, you can find more as we publish them on our website.
More footage of the large robot flower blooming + earlier versions + workshop info.
Small Robot Flower Reward - Assembled Or Make Your Own!
Video Testimonials / Endorsements
Andrew "bunnie" Huang: Ph.D in electrical engineering from MIT; first person to hack the xbox (literally wrote the book on it); co-creator of Novena open source laptop and Chibitronics circuit stickers. An all around awesome guy, and our friend talks about why the Magic Box is awesome and needs support.
Raghava KK accomplished artist and 5x TED speaker enthusiastically endorses the Sustainable Magic Box.
Risks and challenges
Our main risks are contingent on whether we only narrowly reach our funding goal (rather than some of our stretch goals). In this scenario especially, we risk running over budget and out of money down the road.
Reliability of the box truck used to create the Magic Box is also a key risk in this scenario, because we will only be able to afford a cheaper box truck, which may be less reliable.
However, since the Magic Box has many uses, we believe there are a number of paid work options we can pursue to help fund the completion of our mission to enable creativity education and spread inspiration and agency.
Another risk pertains to physical security of the truck and equipment it houses. For example, we will be mounting a laser cutter inside the truck, and if not securely effectively, may be thrown out of alignment through driving. Theft is also a risk, especially when parked in higher crime places.
We have solutions mostly worked out for the mounting of the laser cutter and ensuring security of the Magic Box and its contents -- but this will not be finalized until we have the physical infrastructure in hand.
Timeliness is a risk for workshop and reward delivery. Sometimes some of our equipment may have issues, which may impact our schedules etc, but most parts that could go bad are available within 1-3 days at worst. Some of our rewards require a good deal of physical assembly, and if we hit higher funding levels, it may delay the timeliness of reward fulfillment.
But Sean and Ashley are committed to making this happen, and really if you ask around, you'll hear that they are pretty bad-ass, and committed to making this work. Just check out the work they've done at NuVu Studio, where Sean especially has regularly solved more project-related problems in a day than most people solve in a week.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
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