Cardboard Challenge: ARE YOU READY TO ROCK!

This is a pile of cardboard. This is Colt standing on top of a pile of cardboard. This Saturday, you can stand on top of this pile of cardboard with Colt. Not only can you stand on it, you can rip into it with zeal and gusto and perhapd even aplomb to build whatever cardboard monstrosities you can possibly imagine. We’ll be building arcade games and boxtrolls. You can build a city or a maze or a robot or a VAMPIRE SQUID ROBOT! Or you can built NOT A VAMPIRE SQUID ROBOT!

Help us rip into this pile of cardboard. The ball drops at 10am on Saturday the 11th at Horizons K-8 in Boulder. We’re expecting a heckuva turnout, so please consider coming at 10am, maybe with your own roll of duct tape and cutty-thing (in competent hands only, please). If you like, register HERE.

The event is free, but we just shelled out a ton of cash to make events like this and the Boulder Mini Maker Faire happen and could really use your help earning back our shirts. Donations appreciated at the event.

Carboard.Pile

Why The D-School’s Alice Shi Kembel Lets Her Children Play With Trash (Part 2)

Yesterday I wrote about why I let my children play with trash. Here’s a hint: Not only will the ability to think innovatively help children develop a love for learning, but it will eventually prepare them to enter the workforce of a rapidly-changing world that faces complex challenges in the areas of technology, health care, the environment, and the global economy. Here’s the second suggestion in this 5-part series in how to foster innovation in children:

Emphasize that there is no “right” way to create something.

As adults, we often take a “teacher-learner” approach with children; we teach, they learn, and we tell them when they’re doing something right or wrong.  When it comes to innovation, use a “learner-learner” approach.  Resist the urge to instruct your child in the “right” way to do something; allow children to experiment on their own.  Children can often surprise us with the unique ways that they utilize materials to design what they imagine.  They may incorporate a material in an unexpected, novel way, or use a completely different process to create their ideas.  Instead of saying, “You should do it this way,” or, “That’s not going to work,” use neutral language that encourages independent thinking, such as, “That’s interesting, I wonder what else we could do with that,” or, “I wonder how that’s going to work.”  Give your child the opportunity to think for himself without the idea that there is a “right” or “wrong” when it comes to innovating, and both of you will likely learn from the process.

When my oldest son was a toddler, in a never-ending quest to keep him occupied and out of mischief, I found a painting activity in a book that I thought he would enjoy.  After spending twenty minutes setting up the activity, I presented the materials to him and said, “Look, you can use these paints on the sliding glass door and then wash them off with the hose!”  He performed the intended task for about three minutes, and then proceeded to experiment with mixing paint colors for the next twenty.  As a rule-following, structured person, I was tempted to tell him that he wasn’t using the paint the “right” way; I had, after all, invested twenty minutes of my time to create the experience that the book described.  Instead, I refrained from saying anything and followed his lead, and his paint mixing experiment ended up being far more intriguing for both of us.

Join us tomorrow for the next in this series: Provide scaffolding for children in their creative processes.


Alice Kembel and her husband, George, are recent CA–>CO transplants, having just arrived in town after immersion in the Stanford D-School. You can find Alice at www.aliceshikembel.wordpress.com.

Why the D-School’s Alice Shi Kembel Lets Her Children Play With Trash (Part 1)

Anyone visiting our home will stumble upon numerous unique creations designed by our three boys: bats with five-foot wingspans made of paper and masking tape, daggers whittled from sticks, bug zoos designed with wine corks and popsicle sticks, night vision goggles consisting of toilet paper tubes and duct tape, snake traps constructed from cardboard and string, and a two-pronged lice comb that my oldest son made for his kindergarten teacher out of wooden skewers and Scotch tape.

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DIY Bionic Rock Climbing Hand (c.o. MIT’s Hugh Herr)

Here in Boulder, we actually know who Hugh Herr is: the climber who lost his legs to frostbite on Mt. Washington, designed his own climbing prostheses, and used bionic feet to send the world’s hardest thin cracks. Herr now runs a biomechatronics group at MIT’s famed Media Lab. I talked with Herr for a book I wrote and, in addition to working on balance mechanics for “real” prostheses, Herr was deep into the creation of what he called a “spider suit” — basically, the elastic-like suit holds your arms and fingers in the flexed position, augmenting your pulling strength. With elastic help, climbers will appreciate the extra pep in their pull. Or…they would if the thing actually existed commercially. Until then, I offer this (moderately harebrained) prototype, which my kids and I actually product tested one afternoon up at Flag.

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6 Pen and Paper Games That Rock the Shazbot

Picture it: there you are, trapped in the middle of Chicago-O’Hare on a four-hour layover, alone but for your two cranky and travel-weary kids. Somehow your phone is bricked, your laptop charger is fried, the TV’s are all playing infomercials, and the hand-held games are in the checked luggage. (Also imagine the airport’s out of both Benadryl and whisky—shame on you for thinking it! Bad parent.)

It’s every parent’s worst nightmare. How will you survive?

Your only hope is to go boy scout versus doomsday survivalist on it.. Remember: you’re resourceful, resilient, always prepared, etc., etc.. You’d turn the Alaskan wilderness into a backyard barbecue with naught but a hatchet and a tarp. So too with Chicago-O’Hare. Your hatchet is a pencil (you know, the pointy thing that leaves a trail of graphite when scratched against a light-colored surface of certain friction), and your tarp is paper.

Here are six options for using said paper and pencil to merrily kill nearly infinite time. (Your first puzzle is trying to determine where one column’s caption stops and the next starts.)

1. In a grid like the one below, one player is trying to connect white dots to move from the right side of the board to the left; the other player is trying to connect black dots to move from the top of the board to the bottom. 2. Take turns drawing short, horizontal or vertical lines. 3. You can’t cross your opponent’s lines. Don’t get blocked!

1. In a grid like the one below, one player is trying to connect white dots to move from the right side of the board to the left; the other player is trying to connect black dots to move from the top of the board to the bottom. 2. Take turns drawing short, horizontal or vertical lines. 3. You can’t cross your opponent’s lines. Don’t get blocked!

 

1. Start with a graph-paper game board of any size. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s (write lightly in pencil). 3. Start with the position shown. 4. Take turns placing your symbol. On each turn, you MUST trap an opponent’s symbol between yours (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), which you then flip to your symbol. (If you cannot trap at least one of your opponent’s symbols, you lose your turn.) 5. Once all squares are used, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. Start with a graph-paper game board of any size. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s (write lightly in pencil). 3. Start with the position shown. 4. Take turns placing your symbol. On each turn, you MUST trap an opponent’s symbol between yours (horizontally, vertically, or diagonally), which you then flip to your symbol. (If you cannot trap at least one of your opponent’s symbols, you lose your turn.) 5. Once all squares are used, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. Start with two or three dots on a page. 2. A move consists of two steps—draw a line between two dots (or to itself); and mark a new dot anywhere on this line. 3. Your new line may not cross any existing line. 4. Once a dot has three lines coming out of it, it is closed. 5. Whoever makes the last possible move, wins.

1. Start with two or three dots on a page. 2. A move consists of two steps—draw a line between two dots (or to itself); and mark a new dot anywhere on this line. 3. Your new line may not cross any existing line. 4. Once a dot has three lines coming out of it, it is closed. 5. Whoever makes the last possible move, wins.

1. Imagine the grid below were an open board of the kind used to play Connect Four®. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s. Take turns “dropping” your shape into the game board, where it falls down to rest on the lowest open spot. 3. The first person to make four in a row, wins.

1. Imagine the grid below were an open board of the kind used to play Connect Four®. 2. One player is X’s and the other is O’s. Take turns “dropping” your shape into the game board, where it falls down to rest on the lowest open spot. 3. The first person to make four in a row, wins.

1. Start with a matrix of dots, as shown. 2. Take turns drawing a line horizontally or vertically between dots. 3. Your goal is to make closed squares. If you close a square mark it as your own (place an X or an O in that box). 4. If you close a square, move again. 5. Once all squares are closed, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. Start with a matrix of dots, as shown. 2. Take turns drawing a line horizontally or vertically between dots. 3. Your goal is to make closed squares. If you close a square mark it as your own (place an X or an O in that box). 4. If you close a square, move again. 5. Once all squares are closed, the player with the most symbols wins.

1. You need four boards like the one shown, two for each player. 2. Draw your five ships on the board (as shown). 3. Take turns shooting, by naming grid spaces (i.e. “E-3”). The opponent calls a hit or a miss. Mark your shots on your blank grid and your opponent’s shots on your ship grid. 4. Continue until one player sinks the other’s ships.

1. You need four boards like the one shown, two for each player. 2. Draw your five ships on the board (as shown). 3. Take turns shooting, by naming grid spaces (i.e. “E-3”). The opponent calls a hit or a miss. Mark your shots on your blank grid and your opponent’s shots on your ship grid. 4. Continue until one player sinks the other’s ships.


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MakerBoulder.com and Horizons K-8 Host Boulder Cardboard Challenge!


Cardboard: the ultimate material. This is the voyage of the Boulder Cardboard Challenge. Its four-hour mission: to explore strange new creations, to seek out new experiences and creative challenges, to go boldly where no maker has gone before.

“Cardboard is great: you use your brain for designing and your hands for making,” says Mary Anne Zacek, co-founder of MakerBoulder.com. Inspired by the video Caine’s Arcade (above) and a satellite of the Imagination Foundation’s Global Cardboard Challenge, the Boulder Cardboard Challenge will go off October 11, 10:00am-2:00pm at Horizons K-8. Sign up as a team or as a lone-wolf cardboard cow-person (used as the gender-neutral term for “cowboy”). There will be creative challenges. There will be prizes awarded in what the registration page promises are “exciting categories!” The event is free for the first infinity participants to register HERE.

So get right on it.

“Cardboard is such an easy way to get kids being creative and designing whatever they want to design. They’ll be able to make arcade games or outfits for box trolls or mazes for Spheros or…whatever we can imagine!” Zacek says.

MakerBoulder has been collecting a truly awesome amount of cardboard but more is even awesomer so please consider BYOC; tape and scissors also appreciated. There will be pizza and too-healthy Boulder-ish juice drinks for sale and you are welcome to bring your own snacks as well.

Oh, and if you’re not among the 4,441,607 people who have viewed the Caine’s Arcade video on YouTube, you should really give it a click. You will cry. Plan accordingly.

“Really, it’s going to be a super fun morning of Creative Play!” Zacek says. Be like Mary Anne.

Come on down to the Boulder Cardboard Challenge and have yourself a good time.

Eventbrite - The Boulder Cardboard Games!

 


What’s that you say? A Mini Maker Faire in Boulder? Shut your mouth! No really, it’s true: MakerBoulder and Make Magazine are excited to bring the Boulder Mini Maker Faire to Boulder County Fairgrounds on January 31 and February 1, 2015.  Details at MakerBoulder.com.

For news and manifestos from Maker Boulder, join us on Facebook and Twitter or subscribe (below).

Hacking Perfect Pitch

Conventional wisdom holds you’re born with perfect pitch or you’re not. The conventional wisdom is wrong. Here’s how to train perfect pitch.

For my book Brain Trust, I interviewed Diana Deutsch, University of California San Diego professor and president of the Society for Music Perception and Cognition, and she said the trick is pairing pitch with meaning — early!

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Instructions for a Truly Awesome Card Trick

There are things that every Maker needs: a good hammer, a good workspace, a good joke…and of course one good card trick. You may not have the opportunity to demonstrate it often — all the better! But when you need it, you need it. Here, in case you don’t have it yet, is a truly awesome card trick.

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How to Can Plums (Without Giving Your Kids Botulism!)

Last week a friend ended up on my doorstep. She has 3 plum trees in Wheatridge, Colorado and she had 5 pounds of plums – for me. For me this was akin to wishing for a pony – and then getting it. It was a lovely gesture and plums are great eats and all, but now I have to do something with plums. Five pounds of them.

I’m a canner, I admit it. A cabinet full of Ball jars full of different foods is my nirvana. My mom chastises me for this, saying that canning is so violent on the food. But I say that anything that is left to stew in its juices for a few months is awesome. I’m kind of a foodie, so just putting plums up in jars was never really an option; I had to step it up a notch.

That’s where the booze comes in.

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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.

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