2023 Kickbox projects display student passions, creativity

Students across all majors get to explore their creativity in passion projects for the Kickbox program with the help of the Maker Hub.

2023 makerhub cohortFor the eighth year in a row, the Maker Hub’s Kickbox program is helping students explore their innovative abilities to create projects that range from DIY microphones to science-based makeup kits. Each student, all from academically diverse backgrounds, receives a $300 mini-grant and a box with resources needed to help the student kickstart their ideas.

“That’s one thing that we try very hard to do — to make ourselves open and welcoming to students of all different academic backgrounds,” said Dan Reis, co-founder of the MakerHub. “Even if they don’t consider themselves creative or all this stuff scares them, that’s OK! It scares a lot of people.”

Modeled after Adobe’s Kickbox Foundation, Elon’s “Kickboxers” work under the guidance of a faculty or staff sponsor to produce some creative, innovative and personal projects.

Taryn Vandiver ’26, an English and professional writing and rhetoric major, and Kara McKinley ’24, an anthropology major, paired up to create a project centered around Black empowerment through the creation of affordable earrings, with faculty sponsor Devin Proctor, assistant professor of anthropology.

“I just really love earrings. Big, loud earrings, I just love them,” Vandiver said. “I also just love typical Black empowerment earrings, like hoops or silhouettes but they’re kind of expensive. So, we thought we would try to make them more affordable.”

In order to do just that, the two designers have come up with a unique way of selling their final product at the Maker Takeover on April 26.

“We want to do a system where people pay what they think [our earrings] are worth,” McKinley said. “It’s kind of like an honor system but also making sure our earrings are cost-effective so people aren’t paying 30, 40 dollars and can just pay a dollar if they have a dollar.”

In addition to their unique system of selling their products, the two designers are adding a historical element to their piece through the findings in the Elon University and Alamance County archives. Out of the three lines of earrings they are producing, one line is geared towards the idea of storytelling.

“We want to look at stories from people of color and hardships that they’ve gone through along with things they’ve accomplished or added to the community,” McKinley explained. “We’ll design an earring based off of that story and have it written on a plaque so people know the inspiration behind the origin of those earrings.

Vandiver and McKinley will be joined by 10 other Kickbox projects, and dozens of other student-created Maker Hub projects at the annual Maker Takeover on April 26 in the Moseley Center. All in the Elon community are welcome to view their hard work and creativity!

Elon Kickbox Projects 2023

  • Adam Arno: A psychology major combining his interest in photography and 3D printing by experimenting lithophanes to 3D print photos.
  • Stuart Boatwright: A marketing major exploring his interest in audio production by building a microphone with off-the-shelf parts that sound better than one you could buy for a similar price.
  • Kara McKinley and Taryn Vandiver: (featured above) and planning to make earrings to uplift Black joy and power through design.
  • Madelyn Gibson: An engineering major exploring a DIY science-based makeup kit paired with a follow-along story highlighting women in STEM fields.
  • Virginia Morrison: An art history major experimenting with different paper-making methods by reusing paper scraps from the Maker Hub and library.
  • Madeline Mitchener and Melanie Rodgers: Public health and chemistry majors wanting to bring awareness of food insecurity in Alamance County by producing and selling painted bags and clothing.
  • Erin Price: a biomedical engineering major applying her love of baking and exploring new types of measuring tools for cooking.
  • Alex Strassberg: An engineering major exploring a portable device that lighting designers could use to pan and tilt movable stage lights.
  • Haydn Stucker: An engineering and computer science double major combining his love of fly fishing with engineering by designing a vise that helps fly fishers of any level tie flies.
  • Owen Sheed and Shawn Kelly: Computer science majors looking to improve LED lights for décor by making them easier to use and a better experience for the user.
  • Abigail Winters: An exercise science major taking what she learned in her microbiology course and exploring a UV phone sanitizer that attaches to bathroom stalls.