The inventor of the ball pit was inspired by a jar of pickled onions

More than 40 years ago, Eric McMillan, a renowned designer of children's play areas, and his team created the ball pit, those troughs of brightly-colored plastic balls that children swim around in. (Ball pits also may be a giant petri dish of pathogens but, hell, the kids love 'em.) Apparently, McMillan--who went on to be known as the "father of soft play" for his numerous playful innovations like the "punch bag forest"--found his inspiration for the ball pit in his kitchen. From the BBC:

McMillan and his team came up with the idea for the ball pit in San Diego more than 40 years ago, when inspiration struck after looking at a container of pickled onions in the kitchen. “There was a jar of onions, and we were sort of saying: ‘wow, how about if you could crawl through those? And then – ding – we decided we’d try it,” he says.

The first ball pit, filled with 40,000 balls, opened soon after their epiphany. “People just went crazy about it. Thank God for those onions.”

More in this BBC podcast: "Pickled onions inspired me to design the ball pit"

image: "Children in ball pit in Nachshonit" by יעקב (CC BY-SA 3.0) Read the rest

Glass screen protector for my Nintendo Switch

I use these screen protectors on my Nintendo Switch.

The Nintendo Switch gets handed from child to child. The Switch gets banged, bumped, dropped and treated like something a 5-year-old is struggling wrest from a 10-year-old. Screen protectors come and go, but thus far the Switch has been undamaged.

Three packs are nice.

[3 Pack] Screen Protector Tempered Glass for Nintendo Switch, iVoler Transparent HD Clear Anti-Scratch Screen Protector Compatible Nintendo Switch via Amazon Read the rest

Watch: 9-year-old girl kills Nirvana's 'In Bloom' on drums

Nandi Bushell channels drummer David Grohl as she drums to Nirvana's "In Bloom." Read the rest

Boy genius will graduate college at age 9

Laurent Simons is pursuing a bachelor's degree in electrical engineering at the Eindhoven University of Technology (TUE) in the Netherlands. He's 9 years old. After graduation, he intends to earn a PhD in electrical engineering along with a medical degree. His longterm goal is to develop artificial organs for transplant. From CNN:

While Laurent comes from a family of doctors, his parents have so far not received any explanation as to why their child prodigy is capable of learning so quickly.

But (mother) Lydia has her own theory.

"I ate a lot of fish during the pregnancy," she joked.

The TUE has allowed Laurent to complete his course faster than other students.

"That is not unusual," said Sjoerd Hulshof, education director of the TUE bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering, in a statement.

"Special students that have good reasons for doing so can arrange an adjusted schedule. In much the same way we help students who participate in top sport."

Read the rest

Little boy meets Mickey Mouse 'in real life' for the first time

Perhaps you needed to be reminded that sweet and good things exist in this world. Read the rest

Why CBP won't accept supplies for separated children in migrant detention camps

The U.S. Customs and Border Patrol basically just admitted openly that it has all the supplies needed to take care of the children separated from their families at the border—-toothpaste, soap, beds to sleep on-- CBP just won't give any of the stuff to the detained kids. Read the rest

Texas teacher who tweeted Trump her school was 'taken over' by 'illegal students from Mexico' may be fired

A Texas high school teacher may lose her job after tweeting to President Donald Trump that her school had been "taken over" by "illegal students from Mexico." Read the rest

YouTube pushes children's videos to pedophiles through content recommendation engine

A mom in Brazil became concerned as she watched the viewing numbers on innocent backyard clip her daughter posted to YouTube suddenly climb hundreds of thousands of views. The child posted a video of herself and a friend playing in the family pool. YouTube's recommendation engine had been suggesting the video as recommended content to viewers who'd just watched other videos that contained sexually oriented video content. YouTube's AI sexualized her kid and pushed her image to pedophiles. This happens a lot, apparently. Read the rest

Under Trump, EPA kills funding for kids' health research centers

“The Trump administration is ending funding for a network of research centers focused on environmental threats to kids, imperiling several long-running studies of pollutants' effects on child development,” report @CorbinHiar & @ArielWittenberg for @EENewsUpdates. Read the rest

Amazon told to stop selling kids' school supplies that contain over 80 times the legal limit of lead

This pencil pouch has over 35 times the legal limit of lead, 29 times the legal limit of cadmium.

Epic DIY medieval castle playroom/bedroom built for grandkids

What an amazing DIY castle playroom-bedroom for some seriously lucky grandkids. Read the rest

FTC fines app TikTok/Musical.ly $5.7 million for child data privacy violations

Today's FTC ruling impacts how the TikTok app works for users under the age of 13.

What did we do to deserve dogs?

This is what happiness and best-friends-forever friendship looks like. Read the rest

Instagram to blur self-harm images after Molly Russell's suicide

Molly Russell, 14, took her life in November 2017.

Adam Savage is back, in 'MythBusters Jr.' on Science Channel (Wednesdays 9 pm ET/6 pm PT)

Adam Savage is back with an all-new show, and he’ll be tweeting live during tonight’s MythBusters Jr. on ⁦The Science Channel⁩. The episode is named "Battery Blast," so we're expecting there will be explodey explosions, and they're mentioning “straight as an arrow” so, pointy weapons. Read the rest

Rigorous new scientific study: Link between kids screen time and their well-being is highly overstated

In a heavy-duty new scientific paper published this week, University of Oxford researchers argue that the association between adolescent well-being and digital technology use is tiny. Really tiny. From Scientific American:

(The paper by experimental psychologist Andrew Przybylski and grad student Amy Orben) reveals the pitfalls of the statistical methods scientists have employed and offers a more rigorous alternative. And, importantly, it uses data on more than 350,000 adolescents to show persuasively that, at a population level, technology use has a nearly negligible effect on adolescent psychological well-being, measured in a range of questions addressing depressive symptoms, suicidal ideation, pro-social behavior, peer-relationship problems and the like. Technology use tilts the needle less than half a percent away from feeling emotionally sound. For context, eating potatoes is associated with nearly the same degree of effect and wearing glasses has a more negative impact on adolescent mental health...

“We’re trying to move from this mind-set of cherry-picking one result to a more holistic picture of the data set,” Przybylski says. “A key part of that is being able to put these extremely miniscule effects of screens on young people in real-world context.”

Not surprisingly though, your mileage may vary. Not surprisingly, it all depends on the kid and what they're actually doing on the screen.

In a previous paper, Przybylski and colleague Netta Weinstein demonstrated a “Goldilocks” effect showing moderate use of technology—about one to two hours per day on weekdays and slightly more on weekends—was “not intrinsically harmful,” but higher levels of indulgence could be.

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LEGO stop-motion short film by 8-year-old girl animator

This 8 year old is a lot more patient and creative than most adults I know. What a cool little kid-made short film. Read the rest

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