Your kids will never know a world without the internet.

It was internaut day on August 23rd – otherwise known as the world wide web’s 25th anniversary. On this day in 1991, Tim Berners-Lee made the internet available to the world, and none of us would ever be the same.

Of course, this is mostly a good thing; we are more connected than ever before, with more information available at our fingertips. It’s also important to consider, though, that

the current generation of kids growing up now have never lived in a world without the internet.

Take a second to really absorb that information. When many adults think of our childhoods, no matter what age you are, it usually involves some mix of books, bicycles, and boredom.

More than that, if we were curious about something it took time and effort to figure out the answers. Our kids are growing up in a world where they can know almost anything at any time; this changes their problem-solving instincts. We need to manage their screen-time so that they do not become screen-zombies, and teach them positive tech skills so that they know how to navigate this post-internaut-day world.

So, today, we celebrate the internet and all the ways it has improved the lives of people around the world, and made us a globally connected, powerful community. But as they say, with great power comes great responsibility. We have a responsibility to remind our kids how the world worked before 1991, and give them the tools they need to continue having internaut day be something to celebrate.

Hello MakerUniverse: An Introduction.

Hi to all of our friends, readers, makers, believers (and mom!). This is a quick hello from me, Sarah, your new guide. Quick because we have so much to cover, so many things to explore together. Quick, but not brief, because our journey will be rich and informative.

I know that this MakerUniverse is an exciting place full of potential, but one you can get lost in without a little guidance. What’s an Arduino? What’s all this talk about STEM? How did my kid manage to build a robot that does his homework? There’s so much to know, so many places to learn and explore.

Frankly, it’s a little overwhelming.

2
Getting ready to explore the universe with the MakerBloks!

That’s where we here at MakerBloks come in. Think of us as the ones at the front of the line with the flashlight, as we head out into unchartered territory. We are teachers and engineers and artists and designers – and we are passionate about developing MakerJuniors all over the world.

MakerJuniors, unite!

MakerJuniors exist because we tell our kids that they can learn new concepts at their own pace, and apply them in ways we never would have thought of. MakerJuniors flourish when we take a step back and watch as they connect with the modern world around them, and then marvel at what they are able to add to it.

I am so ready to start this new adventure with you. We are going to meet some interesting people doing amazing things. We are going to find the most relevant stories and the most intelligent story-makers. We are going to inform ourselves about the current events that matter to us, so that we are equipped to provide the best space for all the MakerJuniors in our lives.

Ready? Let’s go.

MakerBloks Fun Facts

MakerBloks is officially 1 year old as of last month. Many things happened since day 1, from graduating from the Founder Institute to launching a Kickstarter campaign and being part of the Maker Faire in San Francisco. Today we’re slowly growing our team, and continuing the development of our different products. So we thought that after a whole year of existence, it would be interesting to share some MakerBloks fun facts.

1. Our quite recent obsession with dinosaurs started with the viewing of the latest Jurassic World movie and from a quick tour to the dollar store. So today, we ALL have dinosaurs on our desks. We also take them as a mean of communication: when your dino is gone, no talking!

2. We annoy Frank, our CEO a lot with our obsession with dogs. I have a crazy brown Labrador while Malika has a very sweet French Mastiff. Almost everyday we share our crazy-funny-weird-cute-stupid-discusting recent stories about our dogs. What can I say, we love our dogs! 🙂

3. The actual only person who likes those Tootsie Rolls is Malika..nobody else…The candie jar has been on Malika’s desk for more than a month now, that’s the longest ANY candy lasted with us.

4. On the night before the open family day of the Maker Faire in San Francisco, we all sat at the table and starting to “DIYing” blocks with materials like a drill, paper towels, knives and a pretty cheap soldering equipment we found at Staples. We did manage to make them work and we’re actually still using them! Keep in mind that only Frank knew what he was doing. I learned that night at 1h am how to solder and Malika learned how to make a push switch work.

5. We act like we have a dog, but we actually don’t “officially” have a MakerBloks dog. But we do have a Mira dog in training walking around in our co-working space. So yes, we have an office dog, just, not ours.

6. The one who made all our MakerBloks t-shirts was Frank’s girlfriend, Caroline Beaudoin, designer and owner of Bestia accessories. The most recent design is the one below with a nice pocket shirt.

7. Everyday at lunch, Frank watches cartoons while he eats, the variety of the shows goes from Batman to Parks and Recreation.

8. We talk, eat and dream about candies at least 4 times a day.

9. Frank is officially employee number 3 at MakerBloks.

10. Malika has the cleanest desk, always. Mine always has dinosaurs, pens, a piggy wearing a helmet pin, a robot missing an arm, books, construction papers, blocks and coffee. Frank has…everything, cards, books, juice and water bottles, 4 external hard drives, almonds, stickers, and the list goes on.

11. Our biggest fans are Frank’s parents. They came to see us at the Maker Faire. They are also always supportive and help us in any way they can.

3 of our favorite MakerBloks moments at the International Startup Festival

3 of our favorite MakerBloks moments at the International Startup Festival

The International Startup Festival is one awesome festival that we have here in Montreal. Located at the Old Port, the festival united startups, investors, incubators and accelerators, innovators and pretty much anyone interested in startups. Coming from all over the world, startups gather together for 3 days to attend conferences, showcase their products, pitch and, oh yes, party 🙂

A lot happened during the festival, but here’s our favorite top 3!

1. Pitch on stage and the Grandmother judges

Our founder Frank got to pitch against other international startups to win bragging rights and show-off in front of other startups. For the first time, we also made a broadcast of the pitch live through Periscope! Check our Twitter to keep in touch for any other live events coming up!

The Grandmother pitch competition is one of the big the highlights of the whole event! Pitching in front of grandmothers, it means the world if they chose you as a winner! While we didn’t get first place (the honour went to Revols), we did get a mention, and that means your doing something right :).

2. Meeting other startups

So many great startups all reunited in one place! From wearables to pet services, all needs and interest were covered!

3. Meeting Backers

Probably the best part was to meet backers who supported us on Kickstarter and came by to have a look and play with the blocks. Some got to play with the iPad game, others with our Simon Says game. We’re really happy we got to meet some of our supporters personally!

We’re really glad to announced that CBC News came by our tent that we shared with Heddoko, Stefanka and Revols to cover the Startup Festival! You can watch the segment here.

Also, Mathias Marchal from Journal Métro also came by to check out our blocks! You can read the article here.

We’d like to give a special thanks to the organizers of the event and the staff. You were all extraordinarily helpful!

See you next year!

 

Part 3: Maker Faire Bay Area

We are back in Montreal! Feels good to be back home. A lot happened in the past month: one team went to attend Collision in Las Vegas, another team went to TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, we then finally launched our Kickstarter campaign and had an awesome kiosk at the Maker Faire in San Francisco, right next to NASA! You can find Part 1: Collision and TechCrunch here and Part 2: Kickstarter Launch. Here is Part 3: Maker Faire Bay Area, the final of our 3 part series.

Day 1: Kids Are Coming!

The first day the Maker Faire opened was an educational day, for students and teachers. They all really loved the MakerBloks. And gave us a lot of good feedbacks and response on our kits!

Day 2: Maker Faire Madness!

Day 2 and 3 were an open access to everyone. That’s when the Maker Faire madness started! It was our first time at this event and the amount of people was quite impressive! We met so many incredible children, many already knew how to code, one just built a robot the last weekend and another was building her own website on her spare time. It was incredible. Being approved by such smart children with a wide variety of skills only gave us more energy to continue.

Day 3: The Finale

A lot of kids came by, some came back twice, some came back three times. We even got the visit of two R2D2 and a robot from NASA! We also met with tech camps, teachers, engineers and makers. We even had children as young as 4 years old who came by our booth, played with our iPads and our blocks.

It was truly an amazing experience for us. Children were curious, they wanted to learn how things worked and how to solve the problems on their own. They were bright, and open to new ideas and new ways to learn. Kids today are eager to learn!

We look forward to next year’s Maker Faire!

MakerBloks is Back! Wrap up Part 2: Kickstarter Launch

We are back in Montreal! Feels good to be back home. A lot happened in the past month: one team went to attend Collision in Las Vegas, another team went to TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, we then finally launched our Kickstarter campaign and had an awesome kiosk at Maker Faire in San Francisco, right next to NASA and LittleBits! Here is part 2 of our trip: Kickstarter Launch.  You can find Part 1: Collision and TechCrunch here. Stay tuned for part 3: Maker Faire Bay Area!

Team assembled! And the launch of our Kickstarter campaign

The team came back together May 10th and so was our mojo. We unpacked our bags and quickly continued to work on our Kickstarter campaign and the Maker Faire event.

We prepared for months for this. We planned everything. We know who is going to produce our parts, our Kickstarter page was almost done, the kits and tablet game demos were working and we filmed our video. But still, we did not expect the response of our community! May 11th, the day before our launch, we woke up early, and started working right away.

With the amount of work we had, we ended up pulling an all-nighter, working until the last possible second. Trying to stay awake took a lot of efforts, ranging from eating Skittles with coffee to listening to A Tribe Called Quest.

As the hours passed, the Kickstarter campaign became more real. We started the countdown. Thinking that we were 2 hours away from the time launch was nerve-racking, and very exciting! With Kickstarter, there is no magical recipe to assure success. We worked hard, and now was the time to see it all happen.

We were suppose to launch at exactly 5h am, San Francisco time. Unfortunately, we had a few last minute issues… so we launched at 5h30.

We then started messaging everyone we knew. Our friends, our families, and pretty much everybody we ever spoke to! Four hours later, we were funded at 55%. We could not believe it. That was fast! Our feature in The Next Web obviously helped a lot! Still, we didn’t expect it.

We were exhausted very quickly. Later during the day, Frank was pitching at the Microsoft Campus in Silicon Valley, a great opportunity that we won, thanks to everyone who voted for us.

May 13th, exactly 29 hours later, it happened. We were funded. We could not believe it. That night, we had dinner, patted ourselves on the back, and continued working for the Maker Faire Bay Area and the rest of our Kickstarter.

Stay tuned for Part 3: Maker Faire Bay Area! It’s the best part.

We’d like to take this opportunity to thank you. The past months showed us that we have a strong community behind us. We’ve been very demanding, we kept asking you to vote, to support, to like and to share. However, in the long run, it isn’t about MakerBloks, it’s about education, learning and building the engineers of tomorrow. It’s about starting from the basics, and growing from that point. Electronics is the base of many functional and daily objects, but starting with a power source is the window to a whole universe. Covering these grounds means that a new world opens. So we’d like to thank you, because without your support, we couldn’t bring this accessibility to children. If you’d like to read more on our mission, visit our post MakerBloks: Starts With A Battery, Powered by Imagination.

Thank you,
The MakerBloks team

 

MakerBloks is Back! Wrap up Part 1: Collision and TechCrunch

We are back in Montreal! A lot happened since our last update: one team attended Collision in Las Vegas and another team went to TechCrunch Disrupt in New York, we then finally launched our Kickstarter campaign and had an awesome kiosk at the Maker Faire in San Francisco, right next to NASA and LittleBits! Here is part 1: Collision and TechCrunch. Stay tuned for part 2: the Kickstarter Launch!

Team A: #MakerBloksNY at TechCrunch Disrupt

TechCrunch Disrupt was a packed event! We were really happy to attend since we won first place at the first Pitch-off Meetup of TechCrunch in Montreal! The event was held May 4th to May 6th in New York and united great startups like Liquidity and BioBots, amazing speakers were also present, ranging from Limor Fried and Jason Monte to Marissa Mayer and Kayvon Beykpour. We also met the other company who won at the TechCrunch pitch-off: Office Vibe.

We finished the last day at TechCrunch with our kiosk in the hardware alley where we got to meet a lot of interesting people! John Biggs also came by for a quick interview video 🙂

Team B: #MakerBloksVegas at Collision

While Team #MakerBloksNY was being busy at TechCrunch Disrupt, another team went to Collision in Las Vegas for the pitch competition! Held May 5th and May 6th, Collision also united great startups, conferences and great speakers. Day 1 was our pitch, delivered by our Business Manager Malika. She was awesome! We also got to attend great talks like the one made by Lars Silberbauer, Social Media Director of LEGO talking about their last digital campaign: #kronkiwongi.

Day 2 was our booth exposition, where we met extraordinary people, media, vc’s and other startups. We even met Morgan Spurlock and presented him MakerBloks – he liked it! Unfortunately, I forgot to take pictures…so, no proof… you’ll have to trust me.

Both teams then left and reunited in San Francisco for the preparation of our Kickstarter launch and for the awesome Maker Faire!

Stay tuned for part 2: Kickstarter Launch!

 

Why I think Jon Negroni is wrong, or why you should dream big!

I have a lot of respect for Jon Negroni. His writing is thoughtful, compelling and entertaining, all key qualities of writing that take years to master. He’s actually one of the reasons you’re reading this – my first-ever blog post. If you haven’t read Negroni’s blog, you should.

In his latest blog post, It’s Ok Not To Dream Big, Jon states that that while it’s okay to dream big, it’s better to dream well.

Never tell that to your kids.

Passion is everything. It’s what drives us, make us move forward and push our limits. I think you should always do something out of passion and not put too much pressure on the end goal.

But there should always be an end goal.

Whether it is crystal clear or just a piece of the puzzle, you should use your passion as a vehicle to bring you somewhere. If you write, you should have an idea, whether you’re writing a blog post or a novel. If you cook, you should know whether you’re making a romantic dinner or a BBQ with friends. If you build electronics, you should know whether it’s going to blink, beep or bonk.

Goals can change. You can convert your essay into a novel, invite more friends for dinner, or turn your blinker into a robot. It’s not the end goal itself that’s important, but the fact that you have a goal – and that it’s driven by passion.

Say your kid wants to become an astronaut. Since he’s passionate about space, it’s not okay to tell him that he should become a mechanical engineer so he can build rockets and have a safer job. It might indeed be a more realistic goal, but he might lose sight of his passion if we ask him to dream well instead of dream big. Goals can change. Goal will change. But change should come from within the passion, not from anything, or anyone, else.

MakerBloks was born from passion and big dreams. I’ve been making, tinkering and breaking toys since I was little. My first dream job was simply to be “scientific”, and I spent hours inventing new games that I never ended up playing. That’s because my goal was simply to make the game. My new goal is to give children the same opportunity to invent, build and experiment that I had. Who knows what they’ll come up with?

I want them to dream big.

Frank Pears, CEO

Want more of these posts straight to your inbox? Sign up to our newsletter and keep up with our upcoming Kickstarter campaign!

 

MakerBloks: Starts With a Battery, Powered by Imagination

WE WANT TO BUILD A BETTER FUTURE

We want to build a future where it will be possible for every child to become future engineers or scientists or anything they wish to be! One where creativity is fueled and encouraged. We want to bring education back to the reality.  We want to enable kids to pursue their passions and dreams. We want to forge the Mini Makers, and change the world of tomorrow.

WE ARE MAKERBLOKS

MakerBloks starts with a very simple idea: two blocks connected will give you a result. It reaches back to the very basics of science: two elements put together will give you an outcome. We want to bring this simplicity to young kids so that when they’ll grow up, they’ll discover many new things emerging from this very simple rule. By understanding the basics, a whole new world opens in front of them. We want to bring this idea to every single child.

We want to build a game that is both interactive and collective where parents and their kids will be able to play together with physical blocks and push the challenge with our tablet game. We want you to be involved in the process. There are so many games out there where only the child will learn. We want you to learn with him/her or support him/her in the process. I wish I had games like that when I was a kid, that’s why we are building it.

MakerBloks is also a place of discoveries, where any idea is worth exploring and where any question is a good question. Where there are no limits to what you can do. We’re all children at heart, our environment is full of colours, games and books. We want to discover the world with a different light. We want to question everything and take no idea for granted. We want to go back to the basics. Oh, and we want to have fun!

We also want to involve as many people as possible. If you have an idea or a suggestion, we are open to it. We want to hear from you, we want to talk with you. There is no one-way conversion here. If you have a collaboration idea, we want to hear it. We want to make the STEM movement as accessible as possible.

 WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU

We are open to EVERYTHING! And we mean it! Want to show us your kid play with MakerBloks or just a picture of your dog? We want to see it! (We very much love dogs…in fact, please send us a lot of dog pictures, thanks). Want to show us your latest project? The last thing you 3D printed? Want to ask us how the microcontroller in the block reads the input from switches and commands output devices to operate the Burglar Alarm game? We’ll help!

Don’t be shy to let us know what’s going on with you, or to ask what’s going on with us. So why not start now? Let’s keep in touch and subscribe to our newsletter!

The MakerBloks Team