Not long ago, I participated in a workshop at the Institute for the Future on what they are calling Extreme Learning. They have just launched a site to provide resources for alternative learning paths and to share stories of extreme learners (like mine in the video above). On the extreme learners site, there are more stories from the workshop participants, who were a fascinating group from diverse backgrounds. This project is a part of the Future of Learning program.
“I think this is one of the best field trips I’ve ever been on,” one of the sixth-graders said, unprompted by any of the adults (or reporters) in the room. “This one, you actually build something.”
We recently acquired this beautiful Erector Rocket Launcher Set from 1958. While not quite complete, it is still tantalizing with its girders, nuts, bolts and motor. The printing on the metal box is beautiful.
The motor is labeled “Erector Electric Engine” and features a clever mechanical gear shifter.
While our set did not come with instructions, there are online resources for vintage building sets, and Girders & Gears has a thorough description and pictures of a more complete set. They also have instructions available for download, which include the following practical warning:
CAUTION: Be sure there is no one in front of the launcher when the rocket is fired.
The Peek-O-Book is a close relative of the Snap-O-Lantern. The book occasionally opens and peeks out with its LED eyes before snapping shut again to look like a normal book on a shelf.
A compartment is cut into the pages of the book and the circuitry is hidden inside.
The orange LED eyes are affixed to a small piece of wood which is then glued to the cover of the book so that they just fit inside the compartment. The rest of the electronics are nestled inside the compartment.
We made the Peek-O-Book for The Art of Tinkering book release party at the Exploratorium Afterdark event last week. Many of the tinkerers featured in the book were invited to hack a copy of the book. The cabinets in the Tinkering studio were packed full of hacked books and projects from the book. You can see pictures of some of the other hacked books in our photo set.
The SPARK (Science Play and Research Kit) Competition is requesting submissions for what they are calling “Reimagining the Chemistry Set of the 21st Century.”
To be clear, we’re interested in science beyond chemistry. We borrow this term to capture the spirit and magic of what the classic chemistry set spawned in the 1940s – 60s. We’re looking for ideas that can engage kids as young as 8 and inspire people who are 88. We’re looking for ideas that encourage kids to explore, create, build and question. We’re looking for ideas that honor kids’ curiosity about how things work.
We’ve delved into that spirit with our posts on Vintage Chemistry Manuals and Vintage Chemistry Sets. We also see it in our community in groups like Public Lab, with projects like Thermal Photography. It is exciting to see this contest trying to promote that spark of curiosity. Submissions are due in January, and we’re looking forward to seeing the winners when they’re announced in February. In the meantime, we would like to hear what you want to see in science kits for the future.
On their own, science, art, and technology all make for interesting, fun, and rewarding explorations. But when you mix them together, you get a veritable tinkering trifecta in which technological tools and scientific principles let you express your own artistic vision.
We flipped through the wonderful pictures and projects before we took it to the bench for some quick pictures. In the spirit of the book, we put it among a few tools and parts from recently photographed projects that were still on the table.
We found projects by some of our friends, including Ken Murphy, Jie Qi and AnnMarie Thomas. We’re excited that we have a few projects in the book, including our Circuitry Snacks, in a section on Surprising Circuits. The book itself incorporates some circuitry on the cover, which we hope to play with soon!
The book launch party will be at the Exploratorium Afterdark (ages 18+) event on November 7.
This week is Maker Week in New York, and on Friday, September 20, Windell will be moderating the Atmel Analyst Panel: The Maker Community and Education. Panelists will include Massimo Banzi of Arduino, Quinn of QTechKnow, Reza Kazerounian, Bob Martin and Sylvie Barak of Atmel, Brian Jepson of Make Books and AnnMarie Thomas of the University of St. Thomas. The event will be at the Hilton Manhattan East at 11:00 am, and walk-ins are welcome. You can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for more information about attending.
If funded your support will give our families access to equipment such as 3D printers and laser cutters and fund low cost classes in everything from robotics to woodworking to programming, and together we will fulfill a larger mission of providing a new kind of education to as many kids as we can.
We’ve backed the project, and we’re also honored that they have invited us to participate in one of their pledge rewards, a VIP Maker Dinner with the Hacker Scouts founders and other prominent makers in the Bay Area.
Head over to their campaign to learn more about the materials, tools and site upgrades they’re fundraising for and how they’ll be benefitting the local community as well as the larger maker community.
Our sincere gratitude goes out to all of our Kickstarter backers and everyone who has helped to spread the word about our WaterColorBot Kickstarter campaign. It has been incredibly rewarding to see each new pledge come in, from friends both old and new. We’re thrilled to announce that we exceeded our funding threshold of $50,000 after just over 60 hours: WaterColorBots are coming!
Today we recorded a little video that you can see on our update page of the WaterColorBot saying (well, painting) “Thank You.” One of the questions we have heard a few times (and have added to our FAQ) has been, “Can the robot go get more paint when it runs dry?” The answer is yes, as you can see in the video.
So is it all in the can and ready to ship? No, not quite yet. You may notice one goof in the video: an unnecessary color change. We’re still sanding away at the rough edges, in order to make sure that everything is ship-shape before we ship.
Thanks for all of the great questions and comments. We’ve already started adding to the FAQ based on your feedback, and we’ll continue to do so as the fantastic questions keep coming in. We’ve already got some excellent suggestions for future software directions, and changes and additions to the API. Getting real feedback from all of you about the different ways that you hope to use the WaterColorBot is immensely helpful in guiding us forward.
We’ve seen the project posted all over the internet, including on Adafruit, Boing Boing, Engadget, Tech Crunch, Gizmodo Germany, and even as far away as Indonesia at Jeruknipis. Many of you have posted it to Twitter and Facebook, and we’re grateful for all of your support.
We had planned to post an update after a couple of days, but we didn’t imagine that we would get to post about surpassing our threshold so soon! We’ll be posting more updates in the near future. There are a lot of interesting details about the WaterColorBot that we haven’t yet written about and are looking forward to sharing with you.