Toy invention teaches geometry, engineering to kids

Come meet the inventor and attend the Qubits Engineering Camp 10:30 a.m. Saturday, July 19


Mark Burginger calls Qubits a “modular, open-ended construction toy.”


Come meet the inventor and see Qubits in action

10:30 a.m., Saturday, July 19

Free play for children and adults RSVP 321-242-1235

3270 Suntree Blvd. Suite 1113

East side of the building (Viera Studio for the Performing Arts ) 

Architect and veteran Mark Burginger upgraded his own invention, a children’s toy, last year, and is now trying to bring it to Central Florida.

Qubits, which Burginger calls a “modular, open-ended construction toy,” comes in sets of plastic pieces which snap together in a variety of combinations and orientations. Children can use them to build objects like towers and bridges, or complex geometric shapes.

Burginger began designing it back in the 1980s, when designer and architect Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller was still alive.

“I was developing this whole geometric concept of the idea,” said Burginger, “and I would send him drawings that I did just because he would give me such good feedback.”

Burginger and his wife, Lisa, were still living in Oregon in 2005 when he first truly invented Qubits. Inventor Woody Norris had just won the Lemelson-MIT Prize for his hypersonic sound system and wanted to use the prize money to help newbie inventors. Burginger wrote him a letter, and Norris gave him enough funding to get a patent and begin development.

The first Qubits kits were manufactured in China and sold over the Internet. A few years later, he got an exclusive deal with Discovery Toys, and they sold about 7,000 of those kits.

When the Burgingers moved to Florida, he realized he could improve his invention. This time he decided to do all the manufacturing in the United States, as close to their office as they could.

“I think it’s a good business practice. You save on time, energy, logistics, you’re not shipping things long distances. Everything is more efficient that way,” he said.

They found a manufacturing plant in Longwood and sold the URL for startup capital. In computing, the term “qubits” refers to quantum bits, and a Canadian quantum computing company called D-Wave Systems was happy to buy the URL.

“It was such a lucrative deal that I was able to then start up my toy company for the second time.”

Marketing is still expensive, so he and his wife have taken to hosting Qubits Engineering Camps at museums, schools and libraries. They explain to children the importance of geometry in engineering, show them how to build specific types of objects, like a tower, and then just let them play.

“It uses your imagination and it’s innovative in that way,” he said of the toy.

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