Ethan Klein, 2018 TAGIE award winner

Just 15 years old, Ethan Klein has already co-created an award-winning STEM-based learning toy for children. Klein talks about his own STEM experience and explains why winning a 2018 TAGIE award is so important.

Tell me about 3DuxDesign.

We make cardboard architecture sets for children that teach basic math, engineering, and design concepts while promoting play and creativity. The sets come with plastic connectors and pre-cut cardboard pieces but do not include instructions. We want kids to play and create and start over again. The less time kids spend on digital devices and video games the better.

The Friday Five

What role does STEM play in your life?

My parents always encourage creativity. In our house, our presents are handmade. I’ve always loved building stuff and have done a few STEM-focused camps and school programs with engineering challenges like the watermelon drop and building a stool out of newspapers. That’s fun! Those gave me the confidence to try new things.

The Friday Five

You won Young Inventor of the Year at the 2018 Toy & Game Innovation (TAGIE) Awards. What does that recognition mean for 3DuxDesign?

Winning the TAGIE shows us that other people like our building sets and think we have a good idea. 3DuxDesign was only established in September 2017, so it’s nice to have that recognition on the website, especially as we look for additional retailers to carry our products.

The Friday Five

Walk me through the product development process for your award-winning architecture sets.

My sister Ayana, who is also a founder at 3DuxDesign, took an architecture class at Columbia University. I have experience with CAD (computer-aided design) and STEM and we thought that we should create something together. We developed the idea of the building kits and started with a 3D printer to create the connectors and a CNC router to cut the cardboard. As the idea took off, we bought another 3D printer and moved from the CNC router – which was always breaking – to a dye cutter. We now use injection molding for the connectors.

We recently completed a successful Kickstarter campaign to help with funding. Our goal was $8,000 and we ended the campaign with just over $13,000 in pledges. The campaign helped us get the word out, especially outside of the United States. We have kits in many countries, including Canada and the United Arab Emirates. Creating the video for the campaign was the hardest part of the Kickstarter experience. It had to be just right.

The Friday FiveWhat’s next for 3DuxDesign?

We’d like to sell our sets through more retailers and maybe even schools to help encourage STEM learning. We also want to exhibit at larger shows like Toy Fair New York to help get our product out there.

The Friday Five

Learn more about 3DuxDesigns on their website. Sets can be purchased through their online store.