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Imagine That: Fairfield Teens Launch Architectural Play Kits For Kids

Ayana Klein, pictured, and her brother Ethan are selling architectural kits through 3Dux/Design. Photo Credit: Contributed
3Dux/Design has been showing its architectural kits to kids at farmers markets throughout Fairfield County. Photo Credit: Contributed
3Dux/Design kits come in three different varieties. Photo Credit: Contributed

FAIRFIELD, Conn. — Ayana Klein’s architectural kits don’t come with instructions or a charger — and that’s just the way she wants it.

The 18-year-old Fairfield Warde High School senior wants children who play with her 3Dux/Design sets — which just hit the market a few weeks ago — to let their imaginations soar with no rules and no limits.

“When we were younger, we were always encouraged to make things rather than buy them,” said Klein, who is the fledgling business’ president. Her 14-year-old brother Ethan, a Warde freshman, is chief of engineering.

“We used to go to the basement, find some cardboard boxes and see what we could make from them.”

And that got the Klein kids thinking: If they enjoyed fashioning toy houses and obstacle courses from found objects, maybe other children would, too.

Thus was born 3Dux/Design, which features pre-cut geometric cardboard shapes and 3D-printed plastic connectors designed to promote STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math) learning and fun.

Ayana and Ethan have spent about three months working on their business plan and creating the connectors using their family's 3D printer. Mom Marci Klein, who owns Modify Furniture of Bridgeport, and Dad David Klein, a radiologist who has plenty of design and marketing tips, have also gotten in on the business launch.

“It was a family idea,” said Ayana, who has shadowed at an engineering firm and attended a summer architecture program at Columbia University.

The first three sets — MODHAÜS, MUSEE MODERNE and BRANDSTATION — were designed and patented this summer and the family has been showing them to children at farmers markets throughout Fairfield County. They’ll also participate in an upcoming Maker Faire in Hartford.

Weston Public Schools are testing sets in their classrooms and Unquowa School purchased 10 sets for its students.

While the sets come with pre-cut cardboard, the Kleins made sure the connectors would work with random cardboard kids might find around the house, such as Amazon boxes.

The sets allow younger children to explore spatial relationships, design and imagination. Older users gain a deeper understanding of architecture, engineering, geometry and 3D modeling.

The cardboard is white and brown and children are encouraged to embellish it with their own designs.

In the coming months, the Kleins hope to come up with new sets.

“Maybe bigger ones, so you could make forts,” Ayana said.

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