IDAHO FALLS — A mechanical engineering Ph.D. student who grew up near Bear Lake has invented “the ultimate destroyer of boredom and screentime.”
Bryan Stringham, 30, is the man behind MagTrax – modular, magnetic marble tracks and small metal plates that can be used to build marble tracks on walls. The idea came to him as COVID-19 began spreading across the nation earlier the year.
“I still remember the date. It was March 22, a Sunday, around 11:30 p.m,” Stringham recalls. “It was about a week into the quarantine, and one of the challenges I had seen for myself and friends was it was much harder to get out and do things. It’s easy to waste a lot of time in front of our screens.”
Stringham immediately began creating prototypes of what the marble tracks could look like. The Brigham Young University graduate student used his five 3D printers to assemble the products layer by layer.
MaxTrax kits come with small metal plates that wall putty goes on. The plates are then attached to walls or other surfaces, and the marble tracks, which have built-in magnets, stick to the plates.
“My wife had the idea to have the magnets inside the marble track connectors so it didn’t create a choking hazard for kids,” Stringham tells EastIdahoNews.com. “That’s what we did, and it totally eliminates the problem.”
Stringham launched a Kickstarter campaign for MaxTrax on Tuesday morning with a goal of raising $10,000. Small, medium, large and extra large kits are offered at a variety of prices.
The marble tracks aren’t just for the kids and can be used alone, as a group, in work settings or for team-building activities, according to Stringham. The Kickstarter page includes examples for track designs, like the double starter or spider web, and there are thousands of options users can create on their own.
“It really is a ton of fun to play with, and what I’ve found is kids build more simple tracks, but as adults, you can get some really complex, fun tracks,” Stringham says. “It provides entertainment and stimulates minds of all ages while also being clutter-free and not taking up any floor space.”
Although Stringham lives in Provo, he has strong Idaho ties. He was raised near Bear Lake in Garden City, Utah, and his mother grew up in St. Charles. His wife is also from the Bear Lake area.
If MagTrax can meet its Kickstarter goal, Stringham will hire people in the United States to mass create the product to have the kits ready by February.
He hopes the marble creation is a huge success and that MagTrax becomes his full-time job with other inventions down the road.
“I have a strong passion for developing things that will make a positive impact,” he says. “I really believe in using my engineering skills to make a positive difference in the world, and this is something I’m passionate about. I’m entirely committed to making it happen and delivering what we promise.”
Learn more about the product and Kickstarter campaign here.