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Make48, PBS’s 48-hour invention series, is back

This past weekend the 2021 city series came to a close. Make48's reality competition series wrapped up in Wichita, Kansas, where the city series began. Eight teams from our 4 city road show made it through the 48 hours, while being filmed for the next season on PBS.

Kickoff at GoCreate on March 25

On March 25th, teams, volunteers and tool technicians gathered at GoCreate makerspace to kickoff the event. Emcee Jay Flores announced the toy product challenge category was STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and math). Their ideas could be a brand new invention or an improvement to a current product. A few points that teams needed to convey in their 10 minute presentation to the judges included:

  • Target Audience

    • kids age 5-15 (State what your ideal age range is in the presentation) OR

    • appeal to kids who are sick in the hospital

  • Brand Name

  • Line Extensions (Can the toy be gamified in the future? And how?)

  • Country of Manufacture

  • Consumer Experience (Easy to use and understand quickly with limited instructions)

Season 5 Tool Technicians

Teams were also able to rely on a set of mentors who work directly in the toy business. Matt Nuccio (President of Design Edge) and Dougal Grimes (President of Innovation & Investor Relations at Spin Master) gave candid feedback and motivation to guide teams on their journey.

Matt Nuccio (l) and Dougal Grimes (r)

This was Dougal’s first Make48 event and he found it very interesting.

“​​I love doing this because you go out and you see the creatives, and you have engineering students, and some are families here, and you can see the differences of how they approach things. But all of them have been very open. They want to know your thoughts on their ideas and use the experience we have. They've all been really open and going their own different ways. I think it could be an interesting 48 hours.”

We can’t share any of the teams ideas or prototypes, but there were a lot of incredible ideas, fun presentations, and thoughtful work put into all the products. The judges had a very tough decision. Kevin Mako (Mako Design + Invent), Leigh Anne Taylor Knight (The DeBruce Foundation) and Rupal Thanawala (Trident Systems) chose one team who won the honor of placing first for Season 5, and took home a $10,000 check + $5,000 of design services from Mako Design + Invent to further their idea along.

John Kuiphoff with the actual check!

Similar to our Madison event, we had another panel of special judges. Eight students between the ages of 8-18 presented the Kids Trophy to their favorite idea. A big shout out to Riley, Peyton, Shamar, Joyce, Brooks, Flynn, Abbey and Charlotte for helping the teams and being their test subjects throughout the weekend.

Attendee and mentor David Greer from PLTW, attended his first competition event and spent time speaking to the teams.

David Greer with Stainless Steel Badgers

“This is right in my wheelhouse. I’ve spent many years in higher education doing research and in the PreK-12 space to really get people excited about what's possible.

When you look at environments like Make48, where you have these teams that are presented with a difficult challenge and a short turnaround, to not only ideate and innovate and create, but to do and to demonstrate, it takes all those necessary skills together.

Then you layer on the entrepreneurial perspective, which I think is critically important for all of us as well.”

Thirty teams competed last year, across four states. Thank you to the 110 competitors who competed in the city series. With the constant pressure of the "ticking clock," we are always astounded by the high-level product designs created by everyone during the short amount of time given.

In a few months, Season 5 will air on your local PBS station and online. We'll keep you updated on the latest happenings. Keep following us for more challenges at events across the country this summer. A big Thank You to our amazing crew at Outpost Worldwide and to GoCreate & WSU. We will see you next year!

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