Shoebox inventor’s kit lets your kids build their own iPad gadgets.

All you need to build your own iPad inventor's kit.

Steve Jobs famously didn’t let his kids use an iPad, because he wanted them to avoid getting sucked into a netherworld of endless screens, without real-world engagement. It’s a feeling that even the most tech-loving of parents likely knows — and it’s the inspiration behind a new project from MIT graduate Adam Kumpf.

I wrote about Kumpf’s clothespin iPad piano a few months back, and I’m fascinated by his concept for what he calls an iPad inventor’s kit. Essentially it’s a shoebox of easy-to-find household objects that, when paired with the right app, can help kids invent futuristic iPad gadgets — while also teaching them about the fundamental concepts of mechanical systems, physics, basic electronics, interface design, and engineering.

Best of all, you can put it together yourself free of charge, thanks to the website Instructables.

“A lot of the frustrating things about touchscreens can be improved when you think beyond the pixels and get your hands dirty with a little tape, wood, and foil,” Kumpf explains.

“Want to draw a straight line? Use a physical ruler with a handle! Want the real feeling of turning a knob? Place a block of wood on the screen and turn that instead! Want to draw with a pencil instead of your finger? Wrap some foil around an unsharpened pencil (or even just use a sausage), and voila!”

While there are plenty of neat concepts designed to get children proficient at coding and software design, there are relatively few which focus on hardware. Not only does Kumpf’s concept fully embrace this idea, it also makes me long to be a kid, circa 2015.

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