Folding Instructions for the World Record Paper Airplane

Paper.Plane.InstructionsEarning a world record allows paper-plane designers to own football teams and yacht off the Croatian coast. And according to aerospace engineer and record holder Ken Blackburn, you need master only three things in your quest for paper-plane glory: good folds, a good throw and good design.

Let’s polish off the first two in a couple words: Good folds are extremely crisp, reducing the plane’s profile and thus its drag. They also make the plane perfectly symmetrical. And a good throw means different things for different planes (we’ll get into specs later), but for a world-record attempt, you use a baseball-style throw to launch the plane straight up, as high as possible — there’s video of Blackburn’s Georgia Dome launch and subsequent 27.6-second, world-record flight online at paperplane.org.

Now to design, wherein lies the true makery of paper planes.

Read more

Are We Pushing Maker Culture on Our Kids Too Soon?

This morning, my son Leif stumbled bleary-eyed from his bedroom and the first thing he said was, “Dadda, if I had one more forest manna I would’ve totally smoked you last night.” He’s eight. And I wonder, just because I love Magic (and Arduino…and solar hovercrafts…) and am excited to play with my kids, am I pushing too much geeky games and making activities, too soon?

Read more

Study Finds That Fatherhood Suppresses Testosterone

Science is a now kind of thing, but every so often I find a study at least peripherally relevant to the Maker Boulder community study that somehow slipped unnoticed through the cracks of time. Such is the case for a September, 2011 paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences titled, “Fatherhood decreases testosterone in men.”

Read more

Study: Will Screentime Pwn Your Children?

Usually when scientists wonder if something affects something else, they set up a randomized control trial — some people get “stuff” and some people get “not stuff” and then they watch with bated breath and spreadsheets to see how these two groups differ. But you can’t prescribe everything and in these cases, instead of randomized control trials, scientists are increasingly turning to “natural experiments” that happen to split people into “stuff” and “not stuff” groups. One of these things you can’t prescribe with any accuracy is media consumption — and so a review by UCSD economist Gordon Dahl uses natural experiments to show how media affects families.

Read more

Kids’ Social Connection Trumps Academic Achievement in Making Adult Happiness

Feeling good was good enough for Janis Joplin and her Bobby McGee, but most parents want a little more for their kids, perhaps including a sense of coherence, positive coping, social engagement, and pro-social values. In short: well-being. A study published in the Journal of Happiness Studies shows how children and adolescents get this well-being as adults.

In short, social connectedness massively overwhelms academic achievement.

Read more

Maker Movement Infographic

Infographic: The Maker Movement

Thanks to the good folks at TheGrommet.com for creating this excellent little piece of propaganda.

The Difference Between a Pinwheel and a Dog

Flashback with me: squiggly lines, squiggly lines, squiggly lines. We’re at the Denver Mini Maker Faire in early May, 2014. The National Western Complex is busy with inquisitive children, adults, childlike adults and even a couple childish adults all buzzing with the excitement of various hands-on activities and demonstrations. MakerBoulder.com had a booth at the Faire — it was one of our first incarnations. And in addition to a Makey Makey and a couple other jazz-hands attention grabbers, we had selected an engaging little craft: a clever pinwheel made out of simple straws, tape and some soft wire.

Read more

Study Shows How Kids Learn to Conform

For the most part, 4-year-olds don’t care a whole lot about social norms. But then 9-year-olds do. An article published in the journal Child Development looks at what happens between these two ages: how do kids become aware of the norms that bind us and eventually them? Knowing the answer can help us help our kids avoid it.

Read more

Multitasking and the Curious Phenomenon of “Supertasking”

I don’t multitask. Or, I do it so badly that I end up dropping everything in a massive tangle of badness with me standing baffled at its center. This frustrates my wife to no end. She can balance on a beach ball while writing things in her calendar, listening to Radio Lab, text-messaging, and juggling chainsaws (it’s a neat trick — and also kind of hot). I hold that monotasking allows me to get a string of things done right, one at a time. Kristi thinks that multitasking is a prerequisite for inclusion in post-Stone Age society and that monotaskers should be rounded up and reprogrammed at underground government facilities.

The question is, is there hope for us monotaskers? Should monotaskers like me strive for less inept sessions of multitasking, or should we just give it up completely?

Read more