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The Extreme Makeover robot now lives in a loft crawlspace in Two Bit Circus' warehouse, a kind of mascot and constant reminder of projects past and present. In another nook that includes a massive laser cutter, Gradman shows off a custom-made STEAM Carnival "rotocube," a wooden steampunk toy with motorized gears adorning its sides. The cube was designed as a gift for those who pledged $168 or more to STEAM Carnival's Kickstarter, which exceeded its $100,000 goal on June 3.
Other Kickstarter incentives included sponsoring kits that are distributed to at-risk L.A. students, who will use them to build projects, such as musical instruments, which will be unveiled before a live audience at STEAM Carnival's stage show next summer in Los Angeles and San Francisco. "The same tools that are in their kits are the same stuff that we use to build all our games," says Gradman, who oversaw the creation of the kits and their disassembly into parts.
Thanks to the publicity from STEAM Carnival's Kickstarter, there's now a backlog of teachers and parents requesting the kits and subsequent participation in STEAM Carnival's stage show, which will be a kind of science fair–meets–circus act for kids.
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While Gradman and Bushnell are still scouting for an L.A. location to erect the tents and let the robots loose at next summer's STEAM Carnival, they're currently testing out new games at various events around L.A., such as the twice-annual public art walks at the Brewery (the next one is Oct. 12-13). Those who want to test-drive the latest inventions sooner can do so on Saturday, Aug. 3, at Carnival Night, albeit at the $85 admission price to a fundraiser benefiting NFTE (Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship) Greater Los Angeles.
"If we're building it, we might as well show it off," Bushnell says. "It's only when we put it in front of people and test it that we see exactly where [the games] fail. These things need to be bulletproof so that we can put 10,000 kids in front of them."
"Or drunks," Gradman adds.
More info on the Carnival Night benefit is at thediningtent.com.