Our weekly Kickstarter Picks

It’s no secret that Kickstarter is pretty much a godsend for enterprising musicians, filmmakers, designers and anyone with a good idea and no money. It’s been around since 2009, but in the last two years it’s rapidly become the go-to place for the capital deficient to pitch their project to those with even just $5 to invest. That may not sound like a lot, and yeah, it’s not on its own, but consider this: of the 1,203 people who backed the +Pool (the plus-sign-shaped floating pool in NYC), 559 of them pledged only $5. That adds up to just under $3,000 – pretty good for a fiver.

Now it seems like everyone is pitching their idea to Kickstarter. We think that’s great, but with great power comes great responsibility, and while the 23-person Kickstarter team does their best to filter out the winning projects from the thousands and thousands of proposals they receive, there are still literally tens of thousands of new projects that launch each week. That’s a lot of ways to spend your hard-earned five bucks. Too many ways, actually. How can one person sort through it all? Relax, we’ll do it all for you, starting right now (and every Monday) with this week’s Kickstarter Picks. And while there are a ton of investment-worthy ideas out there we don’t want to bombard you, so this week we’ve chosen two editor-approved projects we can really get behind.

1. Opera Kids: a documentary about a 5th grade class in Englewood, NJ charged with the task of putting on their very own opera from scratch. That means 42 10-year-olds are responsible for writing the story, the music and lyrics, building the sets, making the costumes and actually staging the thing (running sound and lights). Directed by a former 5th grader from the school, the filmmakers stress the importance of an arts education in public schools, but what really grabbed me about this project is the quality of the filming and the story of the kids. It’s like SCHOOL OF ROCK meets an episode of This American Life. With just two weeks to go they still need to raise half of their $30,000 goal.

2. You Turn, turn signal for cyclists: As someone who bikes to and from work every day I can attest to the fact that even equipped with bike lanes, a helmet and a heightened sense of awareness, biking can often be a treacherous and terrifying way to commute. Two experienced bikers in my neighborhood were recently killed in collisions with cars and I, myself, am still sorting through insurance paperwork for an accident I was involved in last May. That’s why I take all safety precautions available to we, the car-less, pretty seriously. The You Turn is one such device. Worn like a glove on your left hand, it lights up a bright yellow chevron alerting drivers of your upcoming left or right turn. It works like your iPhone, with the arrow flipping left or right depending on how you hold your hand. It’s a great idea, but a pretty expensive one to fund and so far it’s only raised 20% of the money needed to take it from prototype to production. The good news is that if you pledge $50 you essentially pre-order your own You Turn.

Got a great idea of your own? Pitch it to Quirky, the modern way to pursue the American dream.