2020 Baylor grad’s start-up brings fun, interactive education for kids to your front door
In recent years, tinkering has become a popular approach to early childhood development and education. This method of learning prompts kids to use their senses to explore the physical properties of materials to figure out how things work, and then to attempt building their own versions. Tinker boxes have become popular activities, whether purchased as complete sets or built from scratch.
After graduating from Baylor amidst the COVID-19 pandemic this spring, Alex Reader (BS ’20) had the idea to offer a new twist on such activities — a subscription company called STIIX that encourages kids to Solve Technicalities through Imagination, Innovation, and eXcitement, and provides real-world-like feedback and evaluation of their creations.
We spoke with Reader this week to learn more about STIIX and the inspiration behind his idea:
How did you come up with the idea for STIIX?
“Many of my classmates knew exactly what industry they wanted to work in after graduation. Through my senior year, I found myself more drawn to being an entrepreneur rather than working in one specific discipline. When the pandemic affected my spring semester, I took quarantine as an opportunity to spend a lot of time reflecting on my future and what God had in store for it. After lots of prayer, I decided to take a chance and form my own company focused on my favorite things from school: STEM topics and open-ended projects.
“I knew the pandemic had affected childhood learning and entertainment, so I wanted to create something to bridge that gap in academics. The answer was an engaging, educational and hands-on curriculum that could be delivered to your front door: STIIX.”
How does it work?
“Each month, we send out fun monthly STEM-related activities complimented by a video series telling our audience (kids) all about the project at hand. Then, the students are free to complete the task using their knowledge and imagination; we don’t provide instruction manuals. We challenge our subscribers to design, build and personalize projects like a tower, car, glider planes, and more.
“Once they are done with the project, they send their project back to us for our review (free of charge!). Our team puts their work to the test and drafts up encouraging, constructive feedback from real engineers. The entire process reflects real world topics and industry procedures.”
What are the goals for STIIX?
“Overall, our goal is to instill critical thinking, problem solving, and creative skills beyond the classroom. Our interactive approach makes these tasks feel more like recess and less like school. More broadly, I wanted to be sure we introduce kids to as many career fields as possible. Each month revolves around a different discipline of engineering. My hope is the exposure to these fields will help them develop a passion that links to their future.”
How’s the launch gone so far?
“Well, we launched in mid-October, so it’s still early in the process. But preliminary feedback is very positive from both parents and kids. Currently, we’re working with Scottsdale Unified School District and local Boys & Girls clubs to potentially get STIIX in their afterschool programs. We hope to do more things like that moving forward.”
How did Baylor prepare you for this journey?
“My four years at Baylor were the best of my life. I was able to lean on professors, classmates and my faith to make my dreams a reality. The wisdom, teachings and resources provided by Baylor ECS were incredibly valuable in getting STIIX off the ground. I’m a firm believer that (and an example of how) students leave Baylor not only prepared for the real world, but ready to change it.”
Sic ’em, Alex Reader and STIIX!