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Cooking Up a STEAM Carnival

05/28/2013

If you’ve seen the incredible 2010 OK Go video for This Too Shall Pass, which features a four-minute chain of mechanical events, from falling dominoes to rolling bowling balls to paint gun explosions, then you’re familiar with the work of LA design studio Two Bit Circus. The 25-person team of builders, inventors, developers and makers describes itself as “a think tank and talent magnet, building products at the crossroads of amusement and education.” Their goal is to make entertainment more enriching and education more fun.

Two Bit’s Creative Director Hector Alvarez 02 ID and the team are now taking the STEM to STEAM message out into popular culture. “We agree with [RISD President] John Maeda that Science, Technology, Engineering and Math aren’t complete without Art,” they proclaim on a new site supporting their latest effort in this area. “Our culture isn’t doing enough to get kids interested in STEAM. As professional inventors, we rely on these disciplines every day and want to share our excitement about them with kids young and old.”

Two Bit Circus has already shared that excitement via a series of high-profile projects, including clever TV spots for Google; Virsix, an interactive game for malls and movie theaters that features laser mazes and other problem-solving activities; and a PR stunt for Chevrolet that involved a Chevy Sonic, a ten-story stack of railroad cars and a very strong bungee cord.

Two Bit’s latest endeavor is an ambitious traveling circus they're hoping to launch on the West Coast in spring 2014. Called the STEAM Carnival, it will feature state-of-the-art midway games utilizing fire, electricity and other wow factors to get kids interested in science.

“We’ve learned no better way to get kids into STEAM than to show them an amazing time,” say the firm’s developers. “When you say ‘engineering’ to most kids, they zone out. But when you say ‘lasers, robots and fire,’ you have their undivided attention.”

Two Bit envisions a STEAM Carnival big tent full of contests, prizes, food, live entertainment and a midway loaded with games that use the latest technology to provide an interactive and physical experience for the entire family. Its ambitious Kickstarter campaign of $100K to fund the project runs through June 3.

Simone Solondz

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tags: alumni, Industrial Design, STEAM