Beyond the Toolbox inspires students to become active learners through novel, hands-on projects and activities. We aim to help children lose themselves in the process of creative action and discovery. In such a "play zone,” the student is most open to absorbing and applying new concepts in a broad range of subjects -- from science, math and engineering to history, civics and art. This project-oriented approach also reveals meaningful connections between these subjects.
Topics range from the make-believe and whimsical, to real-world issues in engineering and history. To take a few examples, students have been challenged to:
Build an arch bridge to deliver dragon eggs over a lava river
Design a Mars Rover that can withstand a drop of three feet and still function
Assemble a series of motorized conveyor belts that illustrate the process of a bill becoming a law in the United States
Construct natural and architectural wonders inspired by the mathematical concept of the Golden Ratio
Appreciate the tragedy of the Trail of Tears by collaborating to build an art piece that commemorates each life lost
Manage the building of the aqueducts of ancient Rome through a resource management game where we recreate the government of the Roman Republic
Design and build an energy efficient home through the programming of robotic elements
We continually develop new projects and activities so they are tailored to the interests and needs of our students. We believe this approach provides tools and inspiration for kids to move “Beyond the Toolbox” with their own creative solutions. This environment excites children, builds confidence and stimulates a love of learning.
Ben Pfister inspires students to love learning through projects that encourage critical thinking, creativity, and fun.
Ben has trained over 200 instructors across the country and has designed curriculums in science, engineering, art, math, history, civics, animation, robotics, gaming and programming -- reaching around 100,000 students a year.
He has designed educational workshops for Amazon Web Services, Dreamforce, the Los Angeles Zoo, The LEGO Group and the LA Auto Show, encouraging participants to collaborate, play, create, and follow their curiosity.
With a wide range of interests, Ben has created unique curriculums that combine disciplines and allow for new connections to be made. He has taught history and government through LEGO games, used art to illustrate and understand mathematical concepts, and explored green engineering through robotics.
Providing tools and techniques is just the first step of any learning process. The ultimate goal is to add that spark of activity that inspires students to become fully absorbed in the process of play, creation, and discovery.
Ben received his BA from Stanford University, and his Masters in Art from the University of Hawai’i. While working on his Masters, he also taught drawing, wood carving and art history to undergraduates and coached high school basketball.
When Ben isn’t tinkering with Beyond The Toolbox, he is woodworking, shooting hoops, enjoying the ocean, and playing with his two children and his wife, Alana, in Ventura, California.