Makey Makey – turn the world into a computer interface


It’s easier to understand what Makey Makey is by watching this video of it in action than by describing it, but I’ll give it a shot. Makey Makey is a printed circuit board that you connect to any computer with a USB cable (included). You don’t need to install any software. Your computer thinks Makey Makey is a keyboard. And it is a keyboard of sorts. But it doesn’t use standard keys. Instead, you connect wires from Makey Makey to anything that conducts electricity: a piece of fruit, a bowl of water, a cup of soup, a scrap of aluminum foil, blobs of Play-Doh. When you touch the object with your finger, your computer will think you are pressing a key on a standard keyboard. You can assign the object to be a spacebar key, an arrow key, or a letter key. And you can connect several objects to Makey Makey at the same time, so that you can create game controllers, musical interfaces, and other button-controlled devices.

It might not sound like much fun, but the possibilities are endless, and Makey Makey’s ease of use encourages quick-and-dirty experimentation. My 12-year-old was instantly transfixed by Makey Makey and she started making all sorts of things with it, including a drum machine triggered by apple slices, and a game controller out of a cardboard box and bits of foil.

Makey Makey also works with Scratch, the excellent kids’ software development platform. Check out the Makey Makey games people have created using Scratch. Read the rest

Watch the Jackson 5's cereal commercials

Long before the infamous Pepsi commercial, Michael Jackson and his brothers pitched breakfast cereal! Read the rest

Father and daughter do awesome Beatles "Revolution" cover


Parent-child bonding, done so right.

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Quick and easy DIY juggling balls


Mike is a good juggler, and when his kids expressed an interest in learning how to juggle, he made some kid-size juggling balls out of balloons and rice. The results look excellent!

Instead of buying smaller balls or hacky sacks, I used plans from to make several kid-friendly balls. This worked perfectly because I wanted to practice with them while their interest and excitement was high, and together we were able to crank out several balls in about 15 minutes.

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What programming language should you learn?


Udacity created an infographic about different programming languages, showing their popularity over time, their applications, and the average salary one might expect from becoming proficient in one of the languages. Python often appears at the top of the different lists.

(Here's a good book called Python for Kids: A Playful Introduction to Programming, which I used to learn how to write a nontransitive dice simulation.)

High-resolution infographic. Read the rest

Introduction to Arduino: creating interactive projects


747 people have taken my online Introduction to Arduino course on Skillshare, and the class has a 95% positive review rating. The entire video course runs a bit less than an hour, and I explain what Arduino is, what you need to use it, how to get started, and how to build some simple projects. No knowledge of programming, engineering, or electronics is necessary. The class focuses on hardware to get you using the board right away.

I also have another class on Skillshare called Introduction to DIY: Becoming a Maker. Below are intro videos to both classes. Read the rest

More fun with Plugable's USB microscope


Over the weekend, my 12-year-old daughter and I used our Plugable USB Handheld Digital Microscope to get a close-up look some of the stuff around the house. It's an excellent microscope, especially considering the low price ($35). Another other great thing about a USB microscope is that you don't have to take turns looking at the specimen - everyone in the room can see it on the computer display at the same time. That makes it so much more fun. And you can easily take photos and movie to share with other people. The image above is a rubber clown nose.

I like this microscope so much that I talked to the folks at Plugable and asked them to become a sponsor of our Weekend of Wonder extravaganza (WoW) on September 18-20 in Southern California. We will have a gross-out contest at WoW with these scopes, so start thinking about the yuckiest thing we can look at.

Here are a few of the things we looked at:

Ball point pen (250X)

Ball point pen (50X)


Sharpie marker

Sharpie dot on paper

Gluten-free bread

Comic book cover

iPhone display

Chewable vitamin

Jane's hair

White stuff on a tree leaf

Tiny scab on Jane's leg

Levi's denim jean fabric

Jane's heel

Register here to join us at Boing Boing's Weekend of Wonder.

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Pig Goat Banana Cricket - clip from new Nick cartoon series


Our cartoonist pals, Johnny Ryan and Dave Cooper, have created a bizarrely funny and artistically gorgeous cartoon for Nickelodeon called Pig Goat Banana Cricket, which premiered on Saturday, July 18. Watch out the first episode in its entirety here! Read the rest

Pill-popping panic - a good brain teaser


A good puzzle from Futility Closet. Read the rest

OgoSport Discs let you play volleyball, Frisbee, or paddle ball


My daughter got a Mini OgoSport Discs set as a gift last March and we finally broke it open last week. It has quickly tied first place with bocce ball as our new favorite outdoor summer game. Like miniature portable trampolines, these 12-inch discs can send the “ball” (a rubber stringy pom) bouncing higher than a hundred feet and are perfect for a game of Ogo-style volleyball (volleying without a net or formal rules). You can also throw a disc like a Frisbee, or play it like paddle ball without the attached elastic string. Lightweight and small enough to toss into a backpack, I look forward to packing it up the next time we head for the beach.

See more photos at Wink Fun.

Mini OgoSport Discs by Ogo Sport Ages 4-99 $28 Buy one on Amazon Read the rest

Analyzing the "Goodnight Moon" bedroom


The Ugly Volvo deconstructs the spatial, safety, and existential problems with the baby bunny's bedroom in the iconic children's book "Goodnight Moon" by Margaret Wise Brown with pictures by Clement Hurd. Read the rest

Edmond: The Moonlit Party hearkens back to the golden era of Golden Books


With vivid colors and charming humanized animals, Edmond: The Moonlit Party looks like a neon version of a Richard Scarry book. And its heartwarming story is just as delightful. The book starts off with Edmond, a sweet but anti-social squirrel who lives in an old chestnut tree. He spends his days making nut jam and colorful pompom hats and seems content enough. But sometimes he gets lonely. One night his neighbors – including Mr. George Owl, Harry the bear, and Ant – throw a festive party. Too timid to venture outside, he goes to bed in tears. Until Mr. George Owl knocks on his door and shows Edmond a night he’ll never forget. Edmond is an unpretentious tale of friendship and individuality that hearkens back to the endearing golden era of Golden Books.

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Edmond: The Moonlit Party by Astrid Desbordes (author) and Marc Boutavant (illustrator) Enchanted Lion Books 2015, 32 pages, 9 x 11 x 0.5 inches $9 Buy one on Amazon Read the rest

New episode of Circuit Playground - electronics for kids


Here's episode 6 of Circuit Playground, a charming show that teaches kids about electricity. It's produced by our friends at Adafruit. In this episode, Ladyada teaches Adabot about electrical grounding.

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Anti-Stress Coloring Book – all ages can enjoy this old-school, unplugged activity

My girlfriend squeed when I pulled this book out of my bag. Apparently, this coloring-books-for-adults craze is the real thing! Adult coloring books have been around for some time now, and art has been providing comfort since there has been art. But who suspected there would be a giant, grown-up coloring fad in the year 2015? What’s behind this new trend? Are we simply so overwhelmed with the hustle of our lives that we crave more forms of meditation? Perhaps it’s merely a collective deep-seated need to make something beautiful.

At first I was skeptical and thought that the adult coloring books might be a gateway product for people who have the desire to create but don’t yet have the skills. Then I opened it up, grabbed some colored pencils, and sunk in. The House of Pain lyric, “Stay between the lines and I won’t get pulled over,” repeated in my head for a while, but I soon dropped everything from my mind and focused on which color should go in which tiny space in my psychedelic sea turtle.

There are many such books on the market now and booksellers are having problems keeping them in stock. This one is divided into two sections: Coloring and Doodling. At first I disliked that there was so much color already on many of the pages, but that also gives you a bit of a head start with a nice background. There are many large pages to play with. And the book is hefty with very thick boards holding in the pages. Read the rest

Slingshots are perfect for shooting zombie targets and tin cans on a nice summer day

The Trumark slingshot is perfect for shooting targets, tin cans, or across the backyard. What makes it special is its very comfortable wrist brace, which gives me a lot of control while aiming. Holding the slingshot becomes effortless, and the wrist brace takes all the strain off my arm, making it easier to focus on aim, rather than struggling to hold the slingshot in place while pulling the pocket back at the same time. Whenever I use this slingshot I’m always surprised at how fast an hour flies by. I recommend buying some cool targets to practice on, such as the Zombie Spinning Targets, which is what I have (and have to share with my sister, who has banged it up with her BB gun). As for ammo, I've been using Trumark's 5/8" steel balls, but pebbles work fine and are more environmentally friendly (once I run out of these I'm going on a pebble hunt). Of course an adult should always be present while kids are using the slingshot.

Trumark Slingshot Trumark Slingshots Ages 12 and up $9 Buy one on Amazon

Zombie Spinning Target Crosman $15 Buy one on Amazon

See more photos at Wink Fun. Read the rest

Isis Adventure: Worst. Puzzle. Ever.

The thing positively oozes mystery and the promise of an exciting intellectual adventure. Alas.

Bocce ball – A summer evening lawn game that is simple yet competitively addictive

Bocce ball is my favorite game to play on a long summer evening. A simple lawn game that is at least 7,000 years old, bocce ball has no set up, takes a second to learn, and is a competitively addictive game. What I love most is that it gets my family/friends and me to enjoy fun time outdoors.

Here are the rules in a nutshell: The game traditionally comes with eight balls – four green and four red – as well as a much smaller white ball called the jack, or pallino. Someone tosses the jack across the lawn. Then players take turns bowling their ball towards the jack. Whoever gets closest to the jack scores a point. First person or team to score seven points wins the game. It’s that simple! But if you want a bit more detail on the rules, you’ll find them inside the game’s black bag, or you can check out this nicely illustrated WikiHow page.

Note: This particular brand offers a "standard set" (3.5" diameter poly-resin balls) and a "full size" set (3.93" diameter poly-resin balls), both which come in a black carrying case. I prefer the extra weight of the full size, which gives the balls a much better feel and roll, and they cost just a dollar more.

See more photos and ordering info at Wink Fun. Read the rest

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