over 3 years ago by ferdaguanno
Which problem are you trying to solve?
Lack of children interest in STEAM disciplines or lack of resources to make them fun and attractive. Cost of proprietary
resources is extremely high for developing countries schools and homes.
How are you going to solve the problem?
We developed an open source, modular, parametric and scalable collection of building blocks we call Alquimétricos,
something in between low and high tech: moldable and intuitive didactic toys.
What is the impact of your project?
We are developing a set of production system so simple, cheap and versatile that virtually any school of the world can
become a DIY toys production spot and replication hub.
How can the project be manufactured in the OpenLab?
We need machinery and support to develop and prototype better tools like custom punch cutters and little presses to
empower homes, schools and culture points with toy production means.
Describe your project in detail
STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts and Maths) have proved to be among most valuable disciplines to reach sustainable
development. Problem is, not everybody is keen on them. Actually, tech savvy people is still a small proportion of the
population and we are sort of trapped in a consume-but-don’t-create economy that enforces status quo and limits actual
FabLabs, makerspaces and workshops are wonderful places where you can create almost
anything, your imagination is the limit. But deep maker mind and hands are something hard to get, even on developed
economic and social conditions. So we’d better start soon feeding those little makers with stimuli to grow.
Didactic technical building blocks are a wonderful solution; but expensive and proprietary solutions like of a KNEX or
Lego Mindstorm are impossible to afford in most development countries homes or schools. Cheaper alternatives lack of
universality and system compatibility, even being mostly limited and closed systems, with little or no support
Alquimétricos is a collaborative and open source collection of scalable and parametric modular DIY
building blocks you can make at home, at school or local workshop. They can take advantage of digital fabrication tools
like CNCs, laser cutters and plotters, use small production punches or presses, or even manual craft tools like scissors
and punch pliers, matching a wide range of possibilities and necessities.
Alquimétricos match a great bunch of maker
techs such as Arduino, Scratch, Makey Makey and more. In our workshops we mix all together and call those creations
Alquibots. Alquibots is the high tech brother of Alquimétricos and we focus on interaction, gaming and art expression
as a way to contextualize and encourage creative and active learning.
Alquimétricos are focused on certain
non-orthogonal-non-traditional construction systems like fullerian geodesic domes, tensegrities and other modern,
alternative, out-of-the-box-thinking structural systems, preparing and stimulating our children’s minds to a new era
of tech for humanity, independently of their social, economic and cultural background.
We provide to and collect from
the active collaborative community the necessary means to produce, use, and hack Alquimétricos: building blocks
templates and blueprints, parametric design open source tools, production and mounting instructions, home and classroom
solo/group activities guides, group dynamics and games.
We coined a happy metonymy “Alquimetricos” meaning a mix
between Alchemy (magic, ethereal, mutational) + Metric (exact, material, permanent). We think (and truly believe) that
this conjunction is one possible solution to change the paradigm we live in: we need to focus on processes, materials
and products that, with the use of a very specific and simple knowledge plus energy efficient processes, we can convert
some huge problem (like trash) into something completely positive (like didactic toys!). That’s the vision, that’s
the mutation we ran after. You can start a planned and precise project or you can dive into 3D mandala improvisation.
Your experience is unique, but there’s a whole world out there waiting to see your results, your path, your thoughts
and ideas to improve. Collaboration is the key factor to allow this project’s growth.
Alquimétricos was developed
upon years of serious researching, making and... playing! Influences come from a great variety of disciplines like
product designing, tinkering and fab-labbing, contemporary art production, permaculture escaping, didactic content
development and more. Certainly we have to thank Bukminster Fuller and Kenneth Snelson for the inspiration. Also the
argentinian architect Guilhermo Gallo who hold Takuara Rendá, a bamboo research and permaculture facility in Paraguay.
Design of actual building blocks, the activities and background are meant to align with Seymour Papert’s
constructionism and, therefore, Piaget’s constructivism, We deeply believe in the learn by doing and by playing
models, and we encourage participants to finds their own objectives, questions and answers among each other, harnessing
the real potential of collaborative engaging.
Among other applications, Alquimétricos proved to be a powerful, fast
and cheap prototyping tool for building structures, including robot skeleton, vehicle chassis, body modeling and more.
As a fully open project, we encourage taking advantage of the open brand feature. We propose a model in which the
different project incarnations become self-sustainable (or even profitable) by offering products (playing and learning
building block kits, lamps and decorative objects, tents, etc.) as well as services (workshops and courses, decorations,
tailor made developments and more), which can replicate massively building a sustainable production network of fun
products and knowledge.
Project is focused on recycling. It’s a deep belief: when we see so much and many
good-still-usable materials wasted we really feel eager to do something, look for a magical waste-to-something-cool
transformations. Recycling is about creating consciousness, resilience, becoming technologically sovering. Key materials
are most abundant ones, like PET, TetrapackⓇ, publicity vinyl banner, textiles and more. You can use raw materials if
you want. You will feel much better if you recycle something, believe us.
Full precision is not our motto. Diversity
of scenarios, material availability and technological infrastructure demand flexibility and improvisation capability.
Merging standard industrial class machinery with natural or recycled materials is quite a challenge. Our systems try to
deal with that taking advantage of the parametric design tools, the online community and the designs itself, meant to
bypass the odds and deal with local reality.
As a project meant to adapt to local economic, technological, cultural
and social contexts (and not all the way around) we tend to focus on diversity rather than standardization of the
techniques. Parametric design software and a wide variety of production techniques and documentation try to adapt to
each case possibilities, abundance and way of doing. Feedback, sharing of local hacks and variations enlightens our
We are sure that a DIY toy is way better than a buy-and-use one. Strong empowerment occurs when
enabling groups not only with the possibility of consumption, but creation. This economy reflexion, the role of
programed obsolescence in society and other sustainable culture are always present when P2P Alquimétricos teaching
Target users’ groups are vastly diverse - and we’d like to keep it that way! From small children creating
basic shapes, animals, vehicles or dolls to young constructors experimenting with Fuller’s domes and spheres, and
teachers looking for support tools to develop classroom geometry or chemistry models: we have seen a great deal of
interest and we are sure that much more learning is yet to come. We are testing certain designs in accessibility and
therapeutically context to explore its possibilities and limitations.
Making your own Alquimétricos and playing with
them is a perfect excuse to dive into many subjects: architecture and engineering, mechanics and robotics, chemistry and
physics modeling, organic representation, art sculpting and conceptualizing, human relations and many other soft skills
Creating and playing with your own Alquimétricos is fun, empowering, and almost free. You don’t have
to think any more in dismantling your beloved model to build something new. You will always deal with the lack of Legos,
but you can always produce and transmute more Alquimétricos ;-)
We have already tested and shared many Alquimétricos
digital and analog building techniques. Now we are looking for developing mid-scale tools and machines. Punch-pliers and
die-cutting systems are our favorites: they are relatively cheap to design and produce, secure and clean to use and
promote sustainable and empowering relationships.
Can Alquimétricos be massively produced? Certainly. Do we want to
do it? We think of Alquimétricos as an open and local development, highly replicable, low entry barrier, global reach
opportunity project such as Precious Plastic or Liter of Light projects. So, we’d prefer to have thousands of little
offices rather than few big factories producing them. As a matter of fact, we think of Alquimétricos as a perfect match
for projects like Precious Plastic or Liter of Light because it can take advantage of its sub-products, distribution
channels, community model, and more.