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IT & Systems Management

LightUp is designed to illuminate young minds

Some say that programming and circuitry are some of the most important subjects we aren't teaching our kids these days. Knowledge of electrical behavior and computers has become quite useful, but many are raised in relative ignorance. A pair of enthusiasts have chosen to address the issue by producing a simple, easy to understand teaching aid. LightUp (funding through June 30), the name bestowed upon company and product alike, represents a set of electronic building blocks and a suite of programming tools aimed at helping up-and-coming generations learn.

LightUp is a series of wireless electronic components. Building blocks spanning functions from resistors and switches to pressure sensors and light theramins are linked together at the ends by magnet-tipped connections. The coin-battery piece provides constant current to lights and buzzers, allowing you to easily see the fruits of your efforts or exercise problem solving when something's gone awry.

An associated app, also bearing the name LightUp, further facilitates understanding by presenting a real-time augmented reality view of the flow of electricity through the circuit. A stream of dots circulates and slows, pools, and flares through the various bits.

Finally, one of the magnetized blocks sports an Arduino-compatible microcontroller, allowing students to dabble in the programming arts.

This project has surpassed its $50,000 funding goal; reached its $75,000 stretch goal to hire an intern to work on LightUp Hub, an online sharing platform for projects and lessons for the LightUp App; and is fast approaching its $100,000 stretch goal to connect the LightUp App to a web based circuit simulator--with more than three weeks to go.

The greatest portion of funders have sprung for the $199 Maker's Deluxe kit, which includes two microcontrollers, infrared equipment, and a large gaggle of other pieces shared with the more basic kits. The rest of the tiers feature rewards of varying complexity, with the cheapest block-inclusive kit carrying a $39 tag.

Confidence level

LightUp is the brain child of a pair of scholars whose interests revolve around technology and learning. Spawned from a final project engineered at Stanford University, this learning tool found its genesis under the gaze of a resident professor before spilling outside the bounds of purely intellectual pursuits. The duo has received its cost quotes, lined up manufacturers, and appear to be waiting only to discover the size of the order to place.

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