DESPITE ADVANCES IN digital technology, the structural engineering syllabus has remained largely unchanged for close to a century. A degree still entails becoming an expert in things like load, leveling, tension, and stress—and students are expected to learn hand-drafting and model construction. But Brazilian architect Márcio Sequeira de Oliveira thought there was a better (and better-looking) way for wannabe-engineers to grok structural mechanics.
He calls his solution Mola. It’s the first structural modeling kit you’ll want to snap a selfie with, regardless of your major. Its sleek, sproingy parts beg to be played with and the subtle design belies the serious engineering concepts it so beautifully illustrates.
Sequeira created the first Mola kit back in 2014, after spending nearly a decade on the design process. The challenge, he says, was creating the simplest model possible with the smallest number of parts as possible while still allowing it to simulate the widest variety of structural systems possible. When he released it via Brazilian crowdfunding platform Catarse, it became the website’s most successful campaign ever. People in 50 countries bought more than 4,000 kits.
Now the company is back with the Mola 2—an expanded version with even more room to flex your creativity muscles. The big revelation? Adjustable-length, spring-loaded bars that can get longer or shorter with just a twist. Plus, you don’t have to take apart the structure to change it up. Mola 2 lets you simulate all sorts of structures–from grids and bridges to columns and cross-beamed forts. There are even plans to replicate more famous landmarks, like the cork-screwing Art Tower Mito in Japan and Buckminster Fuller’s Dymaxion House.
“We dream of seeing the Mola System being used all around the world in every university and in every architecture or engineering office,” Sequeira says. But he’s also been pleasantly surprised with other ways people are using it, from high school physics teachers to kids peeling themselves away from screen time.
Originally published at Wired.com