Where Does All That Mucus Come From?: Teaching Kids About How Their Bodies Work

When I was a kid, I was terrified of farting in class.  At home, it was no big deal: it was a daily fart festival with my family. But at school? TOTAL FEAR OF FLATULENCE. But then it dawned on me: EVERYBODY FARTS. And that's one of the reasons why I've decided to write a graphic novel about how our bodies work. It's about all the stuff that goes on inside our bodies daily, or throughout our lives, and that this stuff - whether it's digestion, or respiration, or defecation - is necessary for us to live. And it gives you excellent come-back material if anyone teases you for farting in school!

What it's like to do a lockdown drill with kindergarten kids


At Launa Hall's public school, they do regular "lockdown" drills with all the kids, including her 4- and 5-year-old kindergarten students, who have to be crowded into a locked closet and convinced to stay silent without terrifying them so much that they start crying. Read the rest

Secret Coders: kids' comic awesomely teaches the fundamentals of computer science

Gene Luen Yang and Mike Holmes's Secret Coders is volume one in a new series of ingenious graphic novels for young kids that teach the fundamentals of computer science.

An online Java course for kids, taught via Minecraft


At the beginning of the summer my son Ronan, age 12, and I built him his first high-powered gaming PC. Me being a dad and all, I did so happily, but with one proviso -- he’d have to dedicate time every day to learning a programming language. He was slightly sceptical of this, having taken a few less-than-interesting intro to programming classes in the past. Prepared for this, I recommended that we enroll him in Youth Digital’s comprehensive Java course called Minecraft Server Desgin 1. This got his full attention, as he had dreams of creating his own custom servers and gameplay modes to host Minecraft sessions with his friends.

We signed him up and dove in. Our immediate impression was that site and course are smartly designed and easy to navigate. All material is introduced through clear, well-produced, often funny videos that didn’t talk down him, but instead did a great job of walking him through new concepts, then pausing while he took pop quizzes and did hands-on coding exercises.  

The course includes a year of server hosting, 24-hour tech support (that was fast and helpful the few times he’s needed it), and perhaps best of all, a browser-based integrated development environment (IDE) for editing the game, player, and team Java files. Within this Codenvy IDE (Windows and OSX only), you can launch the updated server with one button, which makes it fast to test code and correlate newly learned concepts with the “real world” Minecraft results.

He chose one of the four pre-built maps, learned to modify the default server file description text, whitelisted a few friend, and launched his Minecraft server within the first hour of instruction. Read the rest

Jen Wang author visit at LA Public Library, Oct 7


Jen is the incredible artist who adapted my short story "Anda's Game" for last year's middle-grades graphic novel In Real Life. Read the rest

Hilo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth, a fantastic middle-grade adventure comic

Daniel Jackson Lim is the youngest kid in a huge family of overachievers, and he hardly surfaces in his family's consciousness -- which is a good thing, because he's just found a kid in silver underwear who can't remember anything before the moment he hurtled through a hole in space and hit the ground so hard he made a crater, but didn't hurt himself.

Dad encourages his little girl as she hauls in a 5 pound bass with her Barbie fishing pole


“Did I get one?” Um, yeah. Yeah you did, Avery! What a beautiful loving moment between a dad and his daughter. If this doesn't make you smile, you should probably go fishing because it would probably cheer you up. And if this video is later revealed to be deep stealth sponsored content for Barbie, fine, man. Barbie, you win.

[Ram Mehta] Read the rest

Ahmed Mohamed wants his clock back


The Irving, Texas cops kept it, even though they say there's no longer any investigation into whether the DIY electronics clock was a bomb. Read the rest

Watch Ahmed Mohamed's awesome press conference about being a rogue clockmaker in America


Zomg, the kid is charming. He reveals that he's switching high-schools, thanks his supporters, discussing his inventing and tinkering, and talks about his delight at being invited to the White House. Read the rest

Irving police violated Ahmed Mohamed's civil rights


Ahmed Mohamed was repeatedly denied access to counsel and to his parents, a direct and glaring violation of Texas Family Code section 52.025, which states "A child may not be left unattended in a juvenile processing office and is entitled to be accompanied by the child's parent, guardian, or other custodian or by the child’s attorney."

Also: every cop show in the history of America has made it clear to even the thickest planks that you get to have a lawyer present during questioning. This apparently escaped the notice of Irving's finest, though.

The Texas ACLU is all over this, and points out that MacArthur High principal Daniel Cummings's attempt to get Mohamed to sign a confession could have given the police the tools to arrest him on terrorism charges and secure a conviction.

Irving Police Chief Larry Boyd said he did “not have answers to [that] specific question” when reporters asked him Wednesday why Mohamed was not allowed to speak to his parents.

The executive director of the Texas chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union said that answer is not good enough.

“Once they’re being questioned, they have a right to refuse answering,” Terri Burke told The Daily Beast. “And, unless it's something like a traffic violation, [police] immediately need to release the child to their parents.”

At the very least, Mohamed should have been able to speak with his parents.

“If a child seeks to have a short conference with his parents, [the police] cannot deny them that.

Read the rest

President Obama invites the boy who was arrested for making a clock to the White House


Here's an update to the story about a schoolchild arrested in Irving, TX for bringing his homemade clock to school: This morning, President Obama tweeted: "Cool clock, Ahmed. Want to bring it to the White House? We should inspire more kids like you to like science." Read the rest

Making while brown: Texas schoolchild arrested for bringing homemade clock to school UPDATED


Ahmed Mohamed is a gifted, driven maker-kid who's in the ninth grade at MacArthur High in Irving, Texas. When he showed the homemade clock he soldered and pieced together to his engineering teacher, he was told to keep it in his bag. But when the alarm went off in English class, his teacher accused him of bringing a bomb to school.

He told the teacher, and then the principal, and then the police offers who'd been summoned, that it was a digital clock he'd made and brought to school to show as evidence of the kinds of things he was making. He'd loved robotics club in middle school and was hoping to connect to a similar peer group in his new high school.

He was arrested, handcuffed, and paraded through the school with an officer on each arm, wearing his NASA shirt.

When he was brought before the school police, the officer who arrested him looked at him and said, "Yup. That’s who I thought it was." Ahmed Mohamed and his family (and the Council on Islamic American Relations) believe that the officer was referring to the color of his skin and his name.

Police spokesman James McLellan admits that Mohamed always maintained that the device was a clock, not a bomb, "but there was no broader explanation." When the Dallas Morning News asked him what "broader explanation" he was looking for, McLellan said, “It could reasonably be mistaken as a device if left in a bathroom or under a car. Read the rest

Read Ben Hatke's original Adventures of Little Robot

Gina from First Second writes, "Cory reviewed Ben Hatke's wonderful graphic novel LITTLE ROBOT last week -- this week, tor.com celebrates it by reprinting Ben's charming robot comic strip that inspired the book!" Read the rest

Your baby monitor is an Internet-connected spycam vulnerable to voyeurs and crooks

Researchers revealed ten major vulnerabilities in Internet-of-Things babycams from a variety of vendors ranging from spunky startups like Ibaby Labs to rock-ribbed (and deep-pocketed -- attention, class actioneers!) giants like Philips. Read the rest

NZ bans award-winning YA novel after complaints from conservative Christian group

Ted Dawe's Into the River won the 2013 New Zealand Post Children's Book prize; businesses that sell, lend or gift it face fines of up to NZD10,000. Read the rest

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