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Maker Spotlight: Ruth Amos and Shawn Brown of Kids Invent Stuff

Who are you?

We are Ruth Amos & Shawn Brown and we run ‘Kids Invent Stuff’ the YouTube channel that brings to life kids’ invention ideas. We set invention challenges on our website and kids aged 4-11 send in their invention ideas as pictures and videos then each month we bring to life at least one of these invention ideas.


We actually run a YouTube channel while being about 300 miles apart! We are both in the U.K. Ruth is in Sheffield and Shawn is in Cornwall.

Do you attend a makerspace?
We don’t attend a maker space as we are very lucky to have two lovely little workshops to build in. The main kids invent stuff workshop in Cornwall and Ruth’s workshop in her back garden.

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How did you get started?

When we first started Kids Invent Stuff was a part time thing, but as it’s grown it takes up more of our time. We both also do bits of public speaking and presenting. We’ve also worked together on other projects for bigger channels and production companies.


What kinds of stuff do you make?

The joy of the channel is that we make so many different things. Each invention is so different. If we are building slime firing gauntlets we might use some 3D printing and pumps with an Arduino and some basic coding. If we are building a giant furry electric dog car then we might need to do some welding and woodworking. Most projects use multiple materials and making processes.


We both met at an Engineering competition, but actually took very different routes. Ruth started a company at 16 with a product she designed at school, and Shawn went to university and got a degree in renewable energy and then a masters in fine art. Ruth spent her early career bringing a product to market and doing lots of work around stem engagement. Shawn was involved in creating displays for museums, plays, and was part of the Man Engine team- a giant mechanical puppet. Both of us enjoyed making and developed our skills through different projects.


How did the channel start?

We wanted to do a project to show young people how exciting Engineering and making was. After lots of discussion we landed on kids invent stuff. We actually landed on the name back in the summer of Aug 2015. We self funded a pilot project in 2016 and started building a kids invention idea every month in 2017. We liked the idea of being responsive and able to set a challenge, choose what to build, build it and film it and get in on the channel in a matter of weeks. Through our work in schools we knew that kids had the best invention ideas!

Tell us about one project you’re really proud of.
It’s hard to just choose one thing that we are proud of making. We are both grateful for the support we have had from the maker community. We came into this with 0 subscribers on our channel and neither of us had a ‘following’ it’s been through word of mouth. Also something we are proud of is that 95% of parents or teachers who are involved with submitting invention ideas say that the channel and challenges have changed their child’s ideas of engineering in a positive way.

When it comes to making we are proud of how we’ve developed our skills over the last few years from learning to weld to building bigger invention ideas. I think the musical was one of those projects

it was good to combine our love of engineering and musical in a fun and entertaining way.

Tell us about some failures you’ve overcome.
The project that had the most failure was when we built a giant Rube Goldberg Machine combing 60 kids invention ideas.

That project took a total of 10 days and we were lucky to have a bigger team than normal. The machine failed 73 times and only worked on the 74th run- we were all excited when it finally all ran!


What is something you’d like to explore but haven’t yet?

We would love to do a bigger musical that included more makers. Mainly we just want to keep building kids invention ideas and be able to build bigger and more adventurous inventions.


Got any advice for people wanting to do what you do?

For anyone wanting to start building inventions or a channel, just have a go. The first time you do something you might find it daunting or not know where to start but you only learning by giving it a go!

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I get ridiculously excited seeing people make things. I just want to revel in the creativity I see in makers. My favorite thing in the world is sharing a maker's story. You can find me on twitter at @calebkraft

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