Montreal-based MakerBloks Hits Crowdfunding Goal in Two Days! Wants to Rethink How Kids Learn Electronics

MakerBloks A Montreal startup that wants to teach children about electronics is seeing strong success on Kickstarter, reaching its $25,000 goal on the second day of its crowdfunding campaign. MakerBloks are colourful blocks that allow children to create real electric circuits. A Kickstarter campaign to fund their creation launched on Tuesday morning, raising over $20,000 within 24-hours and reaching its goal on Wednesday afternoon. Francois Poirier, the CEO and creator of MakerBloks says he got the idea while working as a product designer. Clients would come to him with little more than a circuit board and his job was to make the products look good and be easy to use, but he says, “I actually had no idea what they had in their hand, the [printed circuit board] itself was a mystery to me.” Poirier says his then-seven-year-old niece was developing a strong interest in science and technology at the same time so he thought it would be fun for the two of them to learn about electronics together.

“I looked at all the different ways to do it, software, books, DVDs and toys,” he says, but nothing fit. When it comes to toys, he says, “they are all bad, they are all using outdated technology.” He says the toys on the market might make sense to engineers but they don’t make sense to a six-year-old. Having worked as a consultant for Mega Brands, he thought about creating an educational tool that involved bright plastic blocks.

One of the MakerBloks kits being launched as part of the Kickstarter campaign also includes a augmented reality feature – a mirror that attaches to an iPad’s camera and allows children to solve puzzles in a virtual game using their real-world blocks. It’s another thing that Poirier says sets MakerBloks apart from other electronics kits on the market. “They don’t use what the kids are using,” he says. “I thought it was important to adapt to the kids of today.” Still, Poirier says MakerBloks won’t be going entirely virtual. “For me it’s really important to always have the hardware piece, the blocks,” he says. “Because if they are more interested in electronics when they are 10, 12-years-old and they actually want to pick up a soldering iron and build real circuits, it’s always going to be a physical world.” As part of the Kickstarter campaign, MakerBloks is offering several different kits as individual perks, that will help guide future developments from the company. “I think the Kickstarter campaign will actually give us a really good idea of what our audience wants,” Poirier says. That’s a big part of why he decided to launch his product through a crowdfunding campaign. “Gaining visibility and validating the product is the major reason we’re doing the Kickstarter, for sure the funding will help but it’s not the main goal,” he says. “Dollars are the best feedback you can get.” While delivering the MakerBloks on time and living up to the promises made in the Kickstarter campaign is Poirier’s main goal right now, he’s also got his eye on the future. He wants MakerBloks to be the flagship product of a company that’s focused on science, technology, engineering and math learning for kids.

Makerbloks Awards
Makerbloks Press Coverage

Originally posted in TechVibes Canada








Edsurge's Inaugural Tech for Schools Summit

Come join the party! The Baltimore EdSurge Tech for Schools Summit aims to ensure that educator voices are heard by the innovators building educational tools for schools. Educators also want to discover and play with cutting edge tools.

“This will be the first time that companies, teachers, and districts will be in the same space to talk about how we can make purposeful decisions about what the best edtech companies have to offer our instruction and learning for our kids,” says Jenna Shaw, middle school teacher at Patterson Park Public Charter School in Baltimore City. edsurge

“We can be hands-on, ask the questions that really matter, and make decisions around innovative instruction and curriculum development,” she adds. “These conversations often happen in silos, and the Summit allows a space for everyone dedicated to making education better to dream big about the future.”

Ellen Craviotto, an elementary teacher from Peabody Charter School, traveled from Santa Barbara to Mountain View to participate in a similar EdSurge Summit in Mountain View last November. “I have been teaching for 24 years and it was the first conference I have gone to that I really felt the spirit of collaboration between the companies and the teachers.”

In the Baltimore area February 22?  It’s not too late to register!

DATE: Saturday, February 22

TIME: 9:00 am to 3:30pm (Breakfast, lunch and snacks all provided!)

PLACE: Four Seasons Baltimore Free parking for educators!

WHAT WILL HAPPEN: Meet, talk with entrepreneurs building technology. Try out what they’re building. Give them feedback on what you need in your class

MID-DAY BRAIN BOOST: Only one panel! Get the real scoop on implementing blended learning from the people who really know–students.

EXTRA EXTRA! VIP Keynote: Deputy Director James Shelton will share a few words to kick off the event.

MSDE CREDIT: Teachers can opt to earn MSDE credit for participation. Yes, free MSDE credit!

Can’t make the Baltimore EdSurge Summit? Stay tuned for info on upcoming EdSurge Summits in other cities!

Want to make a summit happen in your community? Contact Katrina Stevens, Startup Weekend Education Facilitator and Organizer at Katrina@edsurge.com








Startup Weekend Education Just Had Their Biggest Month Yet!

Dame cinco!!! Why you ask? Because Startup Weekend Education just had its most successful month to-date, conducting five different events in three brand new cities around the world in a 30-day time period!  Spanning three continents, incredible local Community Organizers lead the charge, orchestrating events for over 700 people to come together and build great solutions to some of education’s biggest problems! Check out all the winner’s below, and be sure to visit the event pages, as well, where awesome Organizers and volunteers blogged about the events.

JANUARY 2014 WINNERS

ATHENS, GREECE – January 17-19th – New Startup Weekend Education city!

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  • 1st: E-Antibullying – helping to eradicate cyber-bullying

  • 2nd: Museum Challenge – augmented reality/gaming experience for kids at museums

  • 3rd: Culture Loves Autism

Check out the action on Twitter at #AthSWEDU

LOS ANGELES, CA – January 24-26th – New Startup Weekend Education city!

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  • 1st: Yokyco.co – Unlock the creative electrical engineer in your classroom

  • 2nd: GoalEd – A Game to help kids with goal-setting

  • 3rd (Tie): OwlLook – Curated list of recommended resources for teachers

  • 3rd (Tie): Seek – Students make connections b/t educator lessons and the real-world by creating treasure hunts utilizing geotagging

Check out the action on Twitter at #LAEdu

SAO PAULO, BRASIL – January 30th-February 1st – New Startup Weekend Education city and first-time in South America!

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  • 1st: TV JOCA – The first web communication channel for news geared towards children.

  • 2nd: Good to Go – A system that helps English learners improve their fluency and confidence.

  • 3rd: Curió – A robust resume search

NYC TEENS – January 31st-February 2nd – First ever Startup Weekend Education Teens edition!

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  • 1st: Ducky – Keeps students interests afloat

  • 2nd: Passionate Pursuit – Supports the integration of students’ creativity/passion into school work and everyday lives.

  • 3rd: Integration Orientation – Helps end racial segregation at schools.

Check out the action on Twitter at #NYCEduTeens

NYC ADULTS – January 31st-February 2nd – 3rd annual Startup Weekend Education in NYC!

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  • 1st: Vid Code – Interactive mobile platform to get teenage girls interested in coding

  • 2nd: The Golden Egg – DonorsChoose for education software development

  • 3rd: SimplifAID – Helping students make sense of their financial aid packet after they receive it.

Check out the action on Twitter at #NYCEdu

FEELING INSPIRED?

Here’s your chance to take part in the action. Pitch your idea or work on a team at any of these upcoming events:

  • Feb 21st – Oakland, CA

  • March 28th – St. Bonaventure, NY

  • March 28th – Toronto, CanadaLibrary Edition

  • April 11th – Recife, Brazil

  • April 18th – Phoenix, AZ

  • April 25th – Copenhagen, Denmark

  • May 2nd – Minneapolis

  • May 16th – Bay Area, CA – Next Gen Edition

  • May 23rd – Cambridge, UK

  • May 30th – Abidjan, Ivory Coast

  • June 27th – Sydney, Australia

  • July 4th – Montreal, Canada

  • September 12th – Oakland, CA

  • Oct 3rd – Mexico City, Mexico

Johannesburg, Ann Arbor, Prishtina, Ibague, DC, Montreal, and Rochester events are also coming in 2014. Sign up to the Startup Weekend Education newsletter to receive notifications for when tickets go on sale!

WANT TO ORGANIZE AN EVENT IN YOUR CITY?

Learn more here, or apply today!