This Kickstarter Rocks: KitRex Is A DIY Dinosaur You Can Build, Designed By A Woman And Tested By Little Girls

If you don't want to play with a dinosaur, I don't know what we're going to do if we ever hang out.
Publish date:
April 15, 2014
science, fun, Kickstarter

Man, I love Kickstarter. The whole concept of crowdfunding is super powerful to me -- anything that circumvents the usual machine of corporate production. I'm a small business hippie at heart, apparently, and you don't get much more small business than paying for your project with $5 pledges. Unless it's the little kid's lemonade stand that I felt guilty for not stopping at this weekend.

Little kids running lemonade stands need to take debit cards, y'all.

But what I meant to say was that some projects just fill a need you didn't even know you had. My fave example of this is the Cloak & Blaster -- I can't wait for them to open! -- which began with a Kickstarter campaign. And now I've found another one.

Because, yes, I really do need to build my own velociraptor (and then, as a friend of mine noted, name all of them Clever Girl).

This is KitRex, the do-it-yourself 3-foot model of a dinosaur made out of brightly colored Bristol board.

OBVIOUSLY, KitRex is awesome because you end up with a model dinosaur that you can play with. And if you don't want to play with a dinosaur, I don't know what we're going to do if we ever hang out.

But it's also awesome because it's a great educational toy that teaches concepts of physics -- and it was created by a woman! A young woman at that. Lisa Glover is a Lehigh University (which is apparently a pretty fancy private residential research university) grad student who took a class assignment and a Halloween costume party and turned them into a giant dinosaur she could wear and walk around in.

The giant dinosaur led to a much smaller version, which turned into kits she tested with kids, including a local Girl Scout troop.

Her Kickstarter video is pretty typical -- it feels very at-home haircut to me. Maybe you know what I mean by that; when your guardian (maybe a grandmother) decided that you didn't need anything fancy and took the scissors to your head with kind of passable but kind of tragic results. Usually right before school picture day.

That sounds like I think Lisa's Kickstarter video is awful, which isn't true! It's just got that homemade-macaroni necklace feel to it. And I'm going to stop comparing it to summer camp crafts now because I think I'm just digging myself deeper into this hole full of faint praise. Her video is charmingly amateur and I love that it includes kids.

And I love that KitRex in general was developed by a woman and tested by little girls.

There's such a push for women to get involved in STEM -- that's science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Toys like Goldie Blox (s.e. talked about the advertising controversy when Goldie Blox adapted an old Beastie Boys song) and KitRex -- and the ever-classic LEGO -- integrate engineering and physics concepts into regular play, without being heavy handed and EDUCATIONAL about it; they emphasize how we do actually use these science skills when we interact with our regular world.

Kids of any gender benefit from that sort of play, from those sorts of toys. But little girls especially benefit from other women being an example in these fields.

Right now, Lisa Glover's Kickstarter is more than funded. The overwhelming response means she actually has to figure things out on a whole new level of production -- that's a lot of velociraptors. But I think that there's value in looking at hugely successful campaigns -- not just because they tend to be cool stuff but because they can illustrate some of what we as consumers are hungry for. In this case: a smart, non-gendered dinosaur that you build yourself (and that you can put googly eyes on!) that just happens to be designed by a woman.

You can bet I've backed this project. As much as I wanted to pledge and get my own Rainbow Herd, I had to restrain myself to the Dueling Dinos level. That's two Clever Girls for me -- or maybe one for me and one for a guest. Who wants to play?

What's your current favorite Kickstarter project? Is it funded?