Who hasn’t played with building blocks when they were kids? There is no doubt that the castles, vehicles and miniature cities of our childhoods were the stuff of legend.
Yet games of this nature—those that enable you to design, construct and even problem-solve—are more than mere playthings. They stimulate motor skills and hand-eye coordination, they promote analytical thinking, and they encourage creativity through invention.And yet, typical building blocks are static in nature. While they’re fun, one could easily argue that kits of predetermined models aren’t exactly flexible, and certainly don’t encourage the exploration of advanced scientific concepts like physics, mechanics and electronics.
Looking at shelves littered with our own kids’ stationary building-block creations, we had an epiphany. What if you could make circuitry into a dynamic experience for one of the world’s most popular toys? The idea for BRIXO, a different kind of educational toy, was born.
From the start, we knew BRIXO had to be versatile, reusable and simple. Existing circuitry kits are very formulaic. They frequently come with specific instructions for building a limited range of options, and are often overly complicated.
We wanted BRIXO to be fun to use and interchangeable with existing blocks. Unlike a game with specific rules, or a defined beginning and endpoint, our idea was to create something where children were free to explore, design, and invent.
The result: a set of chrome-coated, electricity conducting building blocks that teach children about electronics, so that they can not only design creations, but also bring them to life. This is made possible through the use of a Bluetooth controlled battery, a powerful engine and a variety of different sensors.
BRIXO blocks include ‘connector blocks’ which can stack and conduct electricity without the need for wires; ‘trigger blocks’ which are sensors to control the toy’s actions; and ‘action blocks’ such as lights and motors to bring the toy to life.
As parents and educators, we realized that one of the greatest challenges of modern parenting involves keeping our children away from their screens in an overwhelmingly digital world. BRIXO addresses this need by offering an engaging, hands-on experience with modern science and technology through traditional building blocks. BRIXO also empowers the ever-growing community of makers and ‘DIYers’ through adding advanced capabilities such as remote control (via Bluetooth™) and basic programming.
To date, BRIXO has raised nearly $1.3m through crowdfunding campaigns on Kickstarter and Indiegogo, and more than 11,000 backers from over 90 countries await the delivery of their kits.
Learning through play
We’re thrilled by BRIXO’s popularity, and we’re especially excited to see the impact they’ll have on learning experiences. For example, by designing and creating the actual electrical circuits that power up their toys, kids gain a greater understanding of core scientific principles.
Unlike a lot of products on the market, BRIXO’s versatility also means that thousands of designs are possible. Today, you might build a lamp; tomorrow, it’s a motor that opens a door. The toy’s interactivity makes science accessible, enjoyable, and also more affordable. Games that once collected dust can now become toys that are repeatedly rebuilt, redesigned and reengineered.
In the past, resource constraints have limited teachers’ access to suitable teaching tools. BRIXO’s toy-based learning enhances students’ curiosity and builds their understanding of the world around them without requiring burdensome upfront investment in expensive, customized equipment. The company also collaborates with teachers to make interactive lessons for students.
Having BRIXO serve in the context of improved educational experiences was important from the outset. The maker movement in K-12 education has encouraged hands-on learning and active play, and BRIXO fits into that construct well. Its interoperability with other brands and accessibility can turn anyone, irrespective of age or educational background, into a maker.
Exploration and skill development go hand-in-hand; shouldn’t having fun and learning, too?
An energetic father of two sweet girls, and an entrepreneur with extensive global experience in educational innovation, technology and workforce development. Taran is a former professor at Carnegie Mellon’s renowned School of Computer Science and the former CEO of both iCarnegie Global Learning and Panopto International, two award-winning companies.
Boaz Almog, BRIXO CTO
A husband to a lovely wife and a father to silly kids, Almog is a lifelong, restless tinkerer, taking things apart and putting them back together. An accomplished quantum physicist, an inventor and a TED global speaker, Dr. Almog is a teacher at heart and an innovator by trade.