blink blink Creative Circuit Kits is a series of kits and online platform that inspires kids to create and play with technology. The kits provide tools to make DIY arts, crafts, and fashion projects embedded with circuits. blink blink was created with the goal of providing kids with a playful experience of producing and creating with technology.
blink blink started as an academic thesis collaboration with Joselyn McDonald with support from the New Challenge Grant. Following our studies, I went on to develop blink blink as a business with Alex Tosti- expanding our product line from 1 to 6 kits, building out our ecommerce site, selling in 7 specialty retail stores, and creating partnerships with NASA Space Apps Challenge, Girl Scouts, Kickstarter, and more.
Web & Video/GIF Tutorials
Only 24% of the STEM workforce is comprised of women in the United States due to a lack of access of the following during adolescence: visibility of women STEM role-models, introduction to exploring technology, and STEM education spaces.
Young women ages 8-18.
This problem is well known and researchers across academia have pursued investigating what happens during adolescence that results in less women entering the STEM field and developing solutions to reverse the statistics. Those researchers include Linda Warner, Leah Buechley, and countless others. Before ideating through possible solutions to the challenge, we researched the barriers entering STEM fields/environments and kit based learning by reading academic papers and interviewing researchers in the field.
To reveal more about the barriers young women face exploring STEM, we conducted user interviews, observed classrooms, and after school learning environments. Our research took place in New Orleans, New York, and New Jersey, visiting various demographics as well as learning environments including robotics clubs, fashion clubs, maker spaces, and home school environments.
Some interesting findings:
Over the course of the design process, we continually ideated on what the solution could be. Our first solution was to build a curriclum that aligned with common core standards and could be distributed into school systems. After investigating how products are released into school systems and realizing the lengthy process it takes to become an approved vendor, we decided to develop a consumer facing product and online platform. Our high level solution was to create a series of kits that provided soft-circuit materials (conductive fabrics, threads, sewable electronics) to make DIY arts, crafts, and fashion projects that was accommodated by online video tutorials and a maker community.
Over the course of a year, we hosted over 50 workshops with 1,052 participants where different components of blink blink were user tested. Our focus was to:
After user testing, we had narrowed down our soft circuit materials list and piloted our first kit which was an inventors box that came with a variety of materials to make a wide range of projects. Our end goal was to develop a product line and online platform that provided a welcoming and inviting space for girls, promote female role models and mentors in STEM fields, and increase access to materials and curriculum. Our goal was to have each part of our system driving the consumer cycle.
blink blink packaging went through a number of prototypes over the course of two years. Our current design:
Below are prototypes we created at varying stages of blink blink's development.
In tandem with developing the blink blink product, I developed our business strategy that included financial modeling, market and competitor analysis, developing main and alternate revenue streams, materials outsourcing and pricing, and more. Our efforts led to: