Makeosity, Inc. is daring students to dream. The New York City-based online and in-school community connects youth to teachers, experts in the do-it-yourself field and business professionals to make new things, acquire skills and ultimately launch businesses. Their slogan is “Invent your best. We’ll do the rest.”
Inventing is just what a group of middle school students did when they used Autodesk Fusion 360 to design what they call an energy scooter. The scooter not only moves its operator when ridden, but it also generates electricity from the motion to charge mobile devices.
In fact, the students are bringing the scooter to market via a Kickstarter campaign with the help of the Makeosity novel idea incubator and business accelerator community, which is helping teachers incorporate learning through design into their curriculum. For their collective efforts, the Makeosity team involved in creating the energy scooter is being recognized as the Autodesk Inventing the Future recipient for December.
Autodesk seeks Inventing the Future candidates each month from its Manufacturing customer base through a brief Q&A interview on a company or individual addressing their business, products and inventive spirit. Here is what Karen Kaun, founder of Makeosity, had to say about the development of the energy scooter and the team’s experiences leveraging Autodesk software:
Autodesk: What does your organization develop, and why is it important for the world?
Kaun: Makeosity, Inc. is a recent incorporation of a successful school-based science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) program with the hands-on innovation and Do-It-Yourself (DIY) appeal of Maker Faire that has reached hundreds of teachers and thousands of students in New York City schools.
We provide teacher professional development and work directly with teachers in classrooms during the school day to integrate design thinking and design learning approaches with regular classroom instruction. We also have a Saturday program for teenagers who want to experiment with new technologies and potentially develop products for market. Through these activities, we are supporting the next generation of makers, innovators and entrepreneurs. This is important because these young people will become masters of their own future and contributors to society in very significant ways.
Autodesk: How has adopting technology helped your organization evolve?
Kaun: Technology, teachers and students have always been the core of our business that has evolved with the availability and ease of use of software and other tools of our trade including electronics and robotics. We are excited by the possibilities offered by Autodesk’s free software for all educators and students.
Autodesk: What Autodesk software do you use and why?
Kaun: Our students used Fusion 360 to design a prototype of a scooter that generates electricity when it's foot-peddled by riders to charge handheld devices like mobile phones. Their goal is to encourage urban children to get out and exercise more while staying connected to their friends.
The students began the project by building a wooden model that has now evolved to a working prototype in metal and carbon fiber. The students modeled the energy scooter with Fusion 360 with help from an Autodesk team member who taught them how to use the program over Skype. One of the students is already teaching classmates how to use Fusion 360, and we are also introducing younger students to 3D modeling with Tinkercad. We expect to introduce more Autodesk software to our community in the coming year.
If we can help more classroom teachers incorporate learning through design in their curriculum and technologies that engage students in problem-solving to better their communities through engineering, students will see how math and science are springboards to careers as future innovators and entrepreneurs.
Autodesk: How do you see your organization five years from now? In 10 years?
Kaun: We will develop our final energy scooter and portable charging device for market with Fusion 360 and other Autodesk tools and have it on sale in stores by late 2015. Other youth-invented and driven products will follow.
Makeosity will continue to build on existing K-8 school business and revenue streams, while expanding the content and tools of the online community to support the interests and strengths of youth who are interested in learning how to bring their creations and products to a broader market.
The Makeosity online community will connect tweens and teens (ages 10-18) to each other, DIY enthusiasts, inventors and technologies such as Autodesk software. Within the online community, students will share and collaborate, teach others, learn from others, create how-to instructions and videos and receive support from peers and adults who are expert engineers, makers and marketers, financers and educators. They will buy and sell products of their own invention and learn how to launch businesses. In schools, teachers will continue to receive professional development to develop curriculum, units and lessons and to mentor their students to invent, participate in and eventually run and maintain the Makeosity online community themselves. Thus, the online and offline communities leverage, feed and support each other.
Autodesk: What does being an entrepreneur mean to you? [You fill in blank with your occupation.]
Kaun: Entrepreneurs have the freedom to innovate, and our youths’ innovations are changing what it means to be “educated.” At Makeosity, adults and youth are building a community side by side through the collaboration of multiple stakeholders and integration of new and cutting-edge tools provided by Autodesk and other partners. We hope that our success will motivate more youth to become interested in exploring how science, technology, engineering, art and math (STEAM) can support their ideas and passions. They are also learning valuable lessons in working to bring their products to market.
To see the Makeosity energy scooter in action, visit http://bit.ly/1yWZcxO.
Do you think you have what it takes to be recognized by Autodesk for Inventing the Future? If so, send in your submission to email@example.com.