Alex sez, "My colleague Chris Neary and filmmaker Nathan Fitch made this great short film about 11-year-old inventor Andrew Man-Hudspith, who was so intent on getting a 3D printer he made a PowerPoint presentation to convince his parents to help him get one."
Jaime sez, "In honor of Children's Book Week, I'm sharing a link about a book written by 8-year old Griffin Hehmeyer. His mom tells the story of how Griffin wrote a book, enlisted his friends and classmates for help editing and illustrating it, and eventually published it. The book serves as a model for children interested in creating literature of their own, practicing skills like story-telling, writing, empathy, collaboration, and persistence in the process."
The story was inspired by a make-believe game Griffin had been playing for several years with a good friend of his named Maya. In the game he was the king of the wolves, just like Makamom is in the book. Griffin says of the writing process, “When I first started this book, I had a hard time thinking of ideas. As I got closer to the ending it was easier to think of what to say.”
At the end of each chapter Griffin would read what he had written to his classmates and incorporate their feedback into the draft. When the draft was complete, Griffin and his teacher then spent another month reading through the book and correcting any errors before sending it to me. I think the editing process was the most frustrating part for Griffin, since he was impatient to be done. I had told him we’d print it out and get it bound, so he was excited to have a real book-like copy to enjoy.
By April I knew of the book's existence, but I hadn’t yet read any of it. When I received the completed draft, I was somewhat hesitant to undertake the reading such a large chunk of text written by an 8 year old – even if that 8 year old was my own son. To my surprise, however, the book turned out to be really good. As a colleague said when I shared a draft with him, “The book kept me reading it until the end, in one pass. It is a very interesting, clever, and engrossing story.” I also enjoyed watching my husband read the book to our other three children each night before bed. They laughed and gasped at all the right places, and begged their dada to continue reading well after lights out.
Back in January, I blogged my visit to Toronto's MakerKids, a wonderful makerspace for kids. Now, MakerKids is running a 3D printing weekend for kids at Toronto's Harbourfront centre. Andy from Makerkids writes, "This weekend, at the 11th annual Toronto International Circus Festival (from May 16th-18th at the Harbourfront Centre), MakerKids will be helping kids to do 3D printing of circus creatures! At our station at this free event, kids will design fantastical animals and characters they'd like to see in a circus using the 123D Creature app. The crowd's favourites will be 3D printed for their designers to bring home!"
Kiera Wilmot — the Florida 16-year-old who created a small explosion just outside her school before classes started by mixing cleaning solution and tin foil (she was just curious, nobody was harmed) — will not be charged with a felony, after all. Florida State Attorneys dropped the charges against Wilmot yesterday. After her case garnered national attention, she ended up with a lawyer who has defended her mostly for free. There's no word yet on whether she'll be allowed to return to the school that expelled her and pressed charges in the first place.
Usborne's 1983 classic Introduction to Machine Code for Beginners is an astounding book, written, designed and illustrated by Naomi Reed, Graham Round and Lynne Norman. It uses beautiful infographics and clear writing to provide an introduction to 6502 and Z80 assembler, and it's no wonder that used copies go for as much as $600. I was reminded of it this morning when @amanicdroid tweeted me with a link to a PDF of the book's interior. I'd love to see this book updated for modern computers and reprinted.
Odd Duck is the story of Theodora, "a perfectly normal duck" who likes her routine -- swimming, stretching, taking books out of the library, buying duck kibble, doing craft projects (with duck burlap, naturally) and star-gazing. When Chad moves in next door, Theodora can tell she's not going to get along with him. He makes weird abstract sculptures, dyes his feathers funny colors, and talks a mile a minute.
When both of them are stuck together overwinter (Theodora never manages to migrate, and Chad breaks his wing making abstract sculpture) they discover a shared love of the stars, and become best friends. But when they overhear a mean duck in town say, "Look at that odd duck!" they both assume she's talking about the other one, and that kicks off a rotten fight, and a lot of soul-searching.
This is a beautiful parable about eccentricity, friendship, self-awareness, the majesty of the night sky, and the benefits of balancing a cup of tea on your head (for posture!). The artwork is gorgeous (thanks to FirstSecond for supplying the first chapter excerpt below), and the writing is absolutely charming. When I got my advance copy, my five-year old demanded nightly readings of this one for a solid week.
Writing in The Atlantic, Amy Schiller documents how Mattel has spent the past 15 years transforming the expensive, highly detailed American Girl dolls from a source of radical inspiration that signposted moments in the history of the struggles for justice and equality in the US, into posh upper-middle-class girls who raise money for bake sales. As Lenore Skenazy points out, the original American Girls were children who had wild adventures without adult oversight; the new crop are helicopter-parented and sheltered, and their idea of high adventure is a closely supervised day in the snow.
Saige is white and upper-middle-class, just like McKenna the gymnast and Lanie the amateur gardener and butterfly enthusiast, both previous Girls of the Year. Even in their attempt to encourage spunky and active girlhoods, their approaches to problem solving are highly local—one has a bake sale to help save the arts program in a local school, another scores a victory for the organic food movement when she persuades a neighbor to stop using pesticides.
By contrast, the original dolls confronted some of the most heated issues of their respective times. In the book A Lesson for Samantha, she wins an essay contest at her elite academy with a pro-manufacturing message, but after conversations with Nellie, her best friend from a destitute background who has younger siblings working in brutal factory jobs, Samantha reverses course and ends us giving a speech against child labor in factories at the award ceremony. Given the class divide, Samantha's speech presumably takes place in front of the very industrial barons responsible for those factory conditions. The book is a bravura effort at teaching young girls about class privilege, speaking truth to power, and engaging with controversial social policy, all based on empathetic encounters with people whose life experiences differ from her own.
The MIT Media Lab's Lifelong Kindergarten Group has shipped version 2.0 of Scratch, the justly famed and much-loved programming language for kids. Scratch makes it easy to create powerful simulations and games, even for small kids (basically, if you can read, you're ready for Scratch). The new version of Scratch runs right in a browser (no downloads or installs required), and is remarkable in its polish and power to excite. The programming environment is embedded in a sharing and shareable community, with millions of Scratch projects ready to be downloaded and remixed. It's just amazing.
With Scratch, you can program your own interactive stories, games, and animations — and share your creations with others in the online community.
Scratch helps young people learn to think creatively, reason systematically, and work collaboratively — essential skills for life in the 21st century.
Moustetronaut is a lovely picture book by Mark Kelly, a former Space Shuttle pilot and husband of former Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords. It tells the story of Meteor, an experimental NASA mouse who saves a shuttle mission by scurrying into a tight control-panel seam and retrieving a critical lost key. The story is very (very) loosely based on a true story -- there was a Meteor, but he never left his cage, but he did indeed display delight and aplomb in a microgravity environment. The whole rescue thing is a fiction, albeit an adorable one.
What really makes this book isn't its basis in "truth," but rather the amazing illustrations by CF Payne, who walks a very fine line between cute and grotesque, with just enough realism to capture the excitement of space and just enough caricature to make every spread instantly engaging. There's also a very admirable economy of words in the book itself (which neatly balances a multi-page afterword about the space program, with a good bibliography of kid-appropriate space websites and books for further reading). It's just the right blend of beautifully realized characters -- Meteor is particularly great -- and majestic illustrations of space and space vehicles.
The Anar Foundation and Grey Spain created a lenticular street-poster about child abuse that shows a "secret" message to people who view it from a kid's eye-height.
ANAR Foundation manages in Spain the european unique phone number 116 111, to attend children and teenagers under a risk situation. On this telephone number, only for minors, they can find the help they need in a totally anonymous and confidential way. But, how can we get our message to a child abuse victim, even when they are accompanied by their aggressor?
Knowing the average height for adults and children under 10,GREY has created two different messages. Using an outdoor lenticular we show adults an awareness message, while children see a message where we offer them our help and show them the telephone number. A message only for children.
Glad they're using this power for good and not evil. Wait until the grocery stores get hold of it and start loading the pester-power ads at kids' eye-height.
Vincent sez, "Our high school film class from Oak Park High in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada made this zombie-themed PSA to spread the message about a worker's right to refuse unsafe work.
It's a big issue. In Canada, in 2010, 1014 workplace deaths were recorded in Canada - that's almost three deaths every day! Between 1993 to 2010, 16,143 people lost their lives due to work-related causes in Canada.
A 2003 survey showed that compared with other developed countries of the OECD, Canada isn't doing too well. Of the 29 developed nations 24 had significantly lower workplace death rates than Canada. Using the factor of deaths/100,000 workers, Canada was only safer on average than Korea (29 deaths), Turkey (20.6 deaths), Mexico (12.0 deaths), Portugal (8.7 deaths) and then Canada with 6.1 deaths per 100,000 workers.*
Our class used humour because we thought it would be an effective way to create a memorable message. Our PSA won first place in the Manitoba Safe Work video contest, and it is now competing to be the top Canadian video.
You may remember our school, which has made other popular videos that you have featured on Boing Boing, including 'Jedi High,' 'Anti-Racism Girl,' and 'The Pink Shirt.'"
An illustrator and games publisher have teamed up to kickstart "Adventure Maximus!", a streamlined, cards-and-dice RPG aimed at kids eight and up (though there's an endorsement from a six-year-old on the site). The gameplay looks pretty clever and I really like the art. It's a minimum $35 pledge to get a finished game, though you can get a PDF of it for a pledge of $15. They're looking to raise $12K for manufacturing, marketing, and administration.
Adventure MAXIMUS! is a card based, introductory Role Playing Game for players 8 years-of-age and up. Players can take on roles from eight different races. Working together as a famous "Adventure Company" based in the fantastic, post-apocalyptic world of Ex-Machina where they can become heroes of legend.
When there is trouble, or innocent people need protection from the fierce creatures that populate Ex-Machina, they call on Adventure Companies to save the day!
Adventure MAXIMUS! follows the classic role playing game format consisting of someone who runs the adventure (who we call a Maximus Master) and 2 or more players who interact with the adventure. Inexperienced Maximus Masters will find using our Adventure Creation System helpful when making their first adventure. Also, the role of Maximus Master can be taken over by a player in mid adventure so that everyone gets a chance to play!
Players will be asked to make heroic actions fueled by Action Points. Players receive a limited amount of Action Points each round, so they must be budgeted. The bigger the action, the greater the cost. Action Points replenish each round. Racial Abilities, Class Abilities, Action Powers, Spells and Items all have Action Point costs printed on their cards.
As with all Kickstarters, you should be aware that you may get nothing for your money, in the event that the creators of the project flake out or just totally underestimate the amount of money they'll need to meet their obligations.
In this short video, a young man who identifies himself as a 12-year-old named Jeremy approaches a Las Vegas Metro motorcycle cop who has illegally parked his motorcycle on a sidewalk, apparently in order to get a soft drink. The young man politely asks the cop if he had any emergency reason to park, and then requests his badge number. The cop refuses to answer either question, and asks Jeremy if he is a lawyer. Jeremy avows again that he is a 12-year-old, and reiterates his request for a badge number. The cop continues to refuse, and eventually drives off. Perhaps the officer can be identified through this footage and reported to a superior who can work with him to correct his misunderstandings about his relationship to the law and his obligations to the public.
Natalie Jubb comes out to many of my events in Toronto with her charming kids, and while I knew she was an artist (mostly lovely mosaics), I hadn't had a chance to get a good look at her work until today, when she tweeted a link to "The Story of a Piece of Paper," a board-book she wrote and drew with the help of her daughter Katya. Natalie and Katya have released their book as a CC-licensed PDF (it's a picture book, so they needed to control the layouts pretty closely). It's a fabulous read, and has my favorite kids' book origin story: the bedtime-story-become-a-book.
The Story of A Piece of Paper was commissioned by my older daughter Katya one bedtime when she was four. “Can you tell me a new story?” she said. “Make one up yourself. What about? Oh, just a piece of paper.”
So I made up this story with the girls’ help, and they were quite pleased with it. So pleased that they kept requesting that same story again and again. I personally didn’t think the story was all that great. But clearly I have a poor grasp on what literature appeals to children.
For the girls’ birthdays this year, I decided to illustrate their story and make it into a book. I thought that it would make a memorable birthday present and also that seeing characters from their imagination on a pages of a real book will encourage my kids to keep inventing stories and creating things.
This ingenious technique for safeguarding books from falling in the bathtub was invented by redditor Crash-From-Space's 8-year-old daughter. The suction cup came from the plumbing aisle at Home Despot.