Matt Andersen II
If you’re a kid, teen, or even an adult, you’ve probably been hit with a dart from a Nerf gun at least once – or maybe even many times. Did you know that Nerf manufactures 447,277,777 darts per year? Well, a homeschooling teen has invented a better dart!
14-year-old homeschooler Matt Andersen II of Omaha, Nebraska, has loved shooting dart guns and playing Nerf wars since about age five. But he never liked how long it took to pick up the darts after battles. This led him to develop the R.P.G. dart. (R.P.G. stands for Rapid Pick-Up & Go, but we like how R.P.G. also stands for Role-Playing Games, which is what Nerf Wars basically are!)
R.P.G. Darts can be used in all standard dart guns. By mixing just the right amount of magnetic substance into the rubber tips, Matt was able to make his darts easy to pick up using a magnet wand while maintaining the same size, weight, softness, and flexibility. Matt said, “We experimented very extensively in order to prevent them from becoming magnetic. The ferro-magnetic additives are suspended in such a way that they cannot form a collective magnetic effect, because of the distance between the molecules. They will not become magnetic in any significant way, and their properties will not interfere with their flight.”
Matt manufactures the prototype darts on a table at home; it takes him about an hour to make one dart. He also designed his own strong magnet wand for picking up the darts. He put the north pole facing out in each one, so the wands will repel each other; thus avoiding pinched fingers if two wands should ever come into contact – great idea! Not only does a magnet wand make picking up darts faster, it makes them easier to retrieve from hard-to-reach places, like under the couch or on top of a bookcase – so it’s a really handy tool since the foam darts go everywhere and they can turn up almost anywhere!
Matt’s mom wrote:
My name is Dawn Andersen and I am currently a homeschool mom of two teenagers in Omaha, Nebraska, although I am the mother of eight. While the oldest six were in a mix of public and private schools, my husband and I made the decision to homeschool our youngest two. It was one of the best decisions we could have made for their education! My two youngest have had a variety of experiences that homeschooling them has allowed that would not have been possible had they be placed in a public/private school setting.
In Omaha alone, we have a variety of groups and organizations dedicated to assisting homeschool families. One of these groups is the Omaha Homeschool Learning Center (O.H.L.C.). The O.H.L.C. has helped us to fill in the gaps with our children’s education. They offer a variety of classes, from ages three through high school.
One of the classes that was offered was an innovation class, led by my husband, Matt Andersen. He has always had a keen interest in inventing and innovating, a passion that he has passed onto our son, Matt Andersen II. Recently, the O.H.L.C. sent out an article about our son and a project he is currently working on from the class: a revolutionary innovation of a very popular toy. It is a magnetic Nerf dart that you can pick up with a magnetic wand.
My husband and I are very excited and proud of our son for his great idea.
Matt is the only son in the family; he has seven sisters! Matt wants to be an inventor like his dad. The elder Matt Andersen, a house painter, holds a patent on a specialized painting device for high-pressure spraying.
As a homeschooler taking accelerated classes, Matt Andersen II has already attended a few courses at Metropolitan Community College in Omaha, Nebraska. Fortunately for him, MCC has a state-of-the-art prototype design lab! The 9,600 sq. ft. facility houses 3D printers, 3D scanners, CNC plasma cutters, laser cutters, vinyl cutters, mills, and other awesome equipment necessary for prototyping. In fact, multiple departments at the college including Prototyping, Chemistry, and Marketing helped Matt with his R.P.G. Dart Project.
Like the old proverb says, “Necessity is the mother of invention.” Identify a need and find a way to meet that need. Just think, the magnetic dart was an original idea that got its start in a homeschool class! Hopefully Matt will be able to patent his idea and eventually bring his product to market. We believe the R.P.G. Dart is a real winner, and having a set of them would be a blast!
Have you invented anything as a homeschool project? Tell us about your invention and we will feature you in a future issue of Homeschooling Teen!