Hey, look — we made a new RaceYa video thing!

We've been head down with our friends at Tomorrow Labs developing the design for manufacture for the RC car we'll be unleashing on old, new, and soon-to-be fans of RaceYa. But since we're also good at multi-tasking, we made this video to communicate the educational philosophy that inspired founder and CEO Abigail Edgecliffe-Johnson to leap into the world of STEM toys and creative play.

Joel TopcikComment
Rosie's Girls Are Building the Future

When we learned about the death last week of Naomi Parker Fraley — whose photographed image is believed to have inspired the iconic "We Can Do It" propaganda poster depicting Rosie the Riveter — we were reminded of the 2011 Wired magazine cover featuring Adafruit founder Limor Fried. It was the first time Wired had put a female engineer on its cover, so Ladyada struck a fitting Rosie pose, showing off her biceps with a power tool aimed at the sky.

Sure, "Rosie the Riveter" and "We Can Do It" are more than a little cutesy and condescending. But the real women who went to work in factories during WWII cracked a major glass ceiling that enabled women to level up ever since. So here's to all the Rosies: the ones who did it then, the ones who are doing it now, and the ones who will grow up to build the world of tomorrow.

Last Rosie Riveting

Elinor Otto went to work building aircraft in 1942 — and pretty much didn't stop until a few years ago. When the war ended and the men came back to the factories, Otto worked in an office and did a stint as a carhop before she went back to the factory in 1951. After ending up at Boeing, she worked on every aircraft the company manufactured until she retired in 2014 at NINETY-FIVE! 

Camps for Rosie's Girls

Every DIY girl's gotta know her way around a set of tools. If you're still looking to find summer activities for your little makers, here are some camps and programs around the country that'll get them drilling, hammering, sawing — maybe even outright riveting! 

Girls Garage

Girls Build

Construction Kids

Girls at Work

Tinkering School

Please try this at home.

No, we're not going to suggest that you fire up a hydraulic riveter or an arc welder at home. But here's a great tutorial, from our pals at Thimble.io, on a tool every maker should know how to use (and pronounce correctly). 

Let's solder!

Joel TopcikComment
Snow Day Science
The Mighty Snowflake

The Mighty Snowflake

How did the snowflake become the go-to metaphor for individuality and uniqueness? This "Science of Snowflakes" video from "It's Okay to Be Smart" starts with a skeptical look at the enduring mythology of snowflake specialness only to conclude that its singular randomness, imperfect perfection, and stone cold awesomeness go even deeper (and stick around for the Bob Ross h/t at the end).

So, yes, we are all beautiful and unique snowflakes. And as George Takei reminds us, that's a powerful thing: "The thing about 'snowflakes' is this: They are beautiful and unique, but in large numbers become an unstoppable avalanche that will bury you." 

How to make snow


Not that any of us digging out from the Bomb Cyclone that hit the Northeastern U.S. this week is looking to make more snow. We just love this SciShow video (from another nice fella in glasses) breaking down the recipe for turning water molecules into frosty flakes, whether naturally or artificially.

Bobsled Physics

Snow days offer a perfect opportunity to experience Newtonian physics by sledding our way through potential and kinetic energy. There's no shortage of DIY "sledding physics" videos out there, but here's a cool one from a series produced by NBC Sports and the National Science Foundation for the 2010 Winter Olympics. (Barring any changes in the Earth's gravitational pull in the coming weeks, we expect the same physics will apply to next month's Winter Games in South Korea.)

Please try this at home.

It's #frozenbubbles time again! And a photographer in Ohio is already winning 2018 with his real-time videos of freezing soap spheres. Check out his bubble recipe and freeze 'em up!

NYC Hardware Companies Are Building the Future
RaceYa at the Futureworks Incubator showcase.

RaceYa at the Futureworks Incubator showcase.

As you may know we were part of this fall’s Futureworks Incubator cohort. Futureworks is a program run through the NYC Economic Development Corporation that helps NYC-based hardware ventures connect with local leaders in manufacturing and design. It has been an amazing experience getting to know the phenomenal founders in the program and discovering parts of the city that are brimming with tech creativity (looking at you, Long Island City!).


The culminating showcase event was held over at Electropositive, a community and co-working space in Crown Heights. We loved to see the progress everyone made — and to watch the faces of the attendees light up as they glimpsed the future these entrepreneurs are building. It’s shiny!

Check out all the beautiful photos from the event here.

Racing Through the Gateway of Play: Notes and Inspo from the RaceYa Hack Day


That was the key takeaway from the RaceYa Hack Day event we hosted at the Pine Street School, Nov. 18, for hackers, STEM educators, and a couple of maker sprouts.

Over several hours on a Saturday afternoon, we set our latest prototype cars loose among a gaggle of curious, creative, and crafty hackers to see how they would get along. We were not disappointed.

There were obstacles to outmaneuver, gear box modifications to explore (hello windmills!), loads of different weights to transport — and vectors! But most of all, it was crazy fun — proving our fundamental hypothesis that play is what unlocks creativity and experimentation.

“Everyone lit up when they started using it,” said one happy hacker. “Even people who never used an RC car before.”

We learned a ton in the process and got so many great suggestions for features to explore — a boat cleat for tethering, perhaps?  — and new ways to use the cars as a platform for exploring mechanics and ultimately programming.

I want to thank everyone who dedicated their Saturday afternoon to our Hack Day so we could watch them play with cool cars.

And if you weren’t able to make it this time, we’ve got more in the works.