Magic ball and vase is a trick that kids actually enjoy

I keep this ball and vase trick around because kids like it.

Sure, you are brilliant. We get that know how it works. You can also read this post. While little kids often find card and coins tricks to be a yawn, they love even a lamely presented magic ball and vase!

After you fool them with the trick a few times, sneak the ball insert out and let the kids play with the empty vase.

It is as much fun as fooling your cat with a laser pointer.

Magic Ball and Vase via Amazon Read the rest

Apple removed a teen's award-winning anti-Trump game "Bad Hombre" because they can't tell the difference between apps that criticize racism and racist apps

Bad Hombre is an award-winning satirical game created by 16-year-old Jackie George. Two days after it won the Shortly Award and was recognized in her school newsletter, Bad Hombre was removed from both Apple's App Store and Google Play (George notes that her town of Naples, FL is very conservative with a lot of Trump supporters and is suspicious that one of her neighbors reported the app). Read the rest

Quantum Physics for Babies and Rocket Science for Babies

Quantum Physics for Babies and Rocket Science for Babies are the kind of board books you’d find on a toddler’s shelf. They have stiff, tear-proof cardboard pages, simple illustrations, and minimal text. But they actually explain the subjects on a (very) high level. The author, Chris Ferrie, is a physicist and Senior Lecturer for Quantum Software and Information at the University of Technology Sydney.

I finally learned why quantum physics is called quantum physics! And even though I know how a wing moving through air goes up, the rocket science book reinforced the concept for me.

These books will be entertaining for kids age 2 and up, but the concepts, even though clearly and simply presented, are better suited for readers from age 5-105. Read the rest

Toy blocks that teach about our solar system

Thomas Romer of the excellent Chop Shop Studio in collaboration with the nonprofit Planetary Society designed these delightful solar system toy blocks to teach kids (and adults) about the wonders of outer space! He's launched a Kickstarter to fund the manufacturing of the wood blocks with debossed typography. They're $75/set. Thomas says:

We worked on the project for over a year and while I did the graphics, etc — they made sure all the data was accurate and totally up to date. It is a set of 20 blocks featuring the most interesting worlds of the Solar System. Notice I didn’t say “planets”. One of my main objectives is to show children (and adults) that planet or not doesn’t matter. There are worlds like Io and Europa that most have never heard of. Two moons are bigger than Mercury, never mind Pluto (also included).

Then each side is loaded with data like size, distance, interior, name, appearance and the missions we have sent to explore them.

When they are shipped to our (Kickstarter) backers they will be sold in the Planetary Society store and profits will be sent to support their overall mission.

"Planetary Blocks: Our Solar System" (Kickstarter)

Read the rest

SO LATE SO SOON: fun, genre-celebrating SF for young readers (of all ages!)

[Harry Tynan posts on our forums as Moose Malloy. Earlier this week, he messaged me about his fun, self-published kid's book, written as a series of bedtime stories for his kid (a tradition I'm very fond of -- it's the origin story of The Borribles!). The book is so much fun that I invited him to write a short introduction and choose a excerpt for your edification. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! -Cory]

The great Umberto Eco once wrote, in a marvellous essay about Casablanca, that "Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion." Read the rest

Most US eighth graders have taken apart a gadget to fix it or see how it works

From the 2018 National Assessment of Educational Progress: "In 2018, fifty-three percent of eighth-grade students reported that they believed they could perform a variety of technology- and engineering-related tasks such as taking something apart to fix it or see how it works." Read the rest

Greta Thunberg attributes her ability to focus on climate change to her Asperger's

Greta Thunberg is the Swedish teenager whose climate change school-strike spread around the world, leading to her addressing the COP24 conference, the World Economic Forum, and many other forums where she has distinguished herself with her brilliant oratory and leadership. In an interview with Great Big Planet, Thunberg attributes her ability to focus on climate change despite the crushing terror and the enormous forces arrayed against her on her autism, saying, "I think if I wouldn’t have had Asperger's I don’t think I would have started the school strike, I don’t think I would’ve cared about the climate at all… That allowed me to focus on one thing for a very long time." (Image: Anders Hellberg, CC-BY) (via Kottke) Read the rest

A secret Finnish subculture of women and girls who ride hobbyhorses has come out of the shadows

A once-underground movement of Finnish girls who conduct elaborate dressage routines with toy hobbyhorses has gone mainstream, with coaches, competitions and trainers, and is spreading abroad. Read the rest

When Rivers Were Trails: an indigenous take on Oregon Trail

When Rivers Were Trails is a "Native-themed decision-based RPG" based on the classic Apple ][+ game "Oregon Trail," in which you play an 1890 Anishinaabeg person who has been forced off your land in Fond du Lac, Minnesota and must migrate through the northwest to California. Read the rest

You can vote in the Children's History Book Prize!

You've got one week to vote in the Children's History Book Prize, whose nominees this year include Out of Left Field by Ellen Klages -- the third book in the Gordon Family Saga, which includes 2009's incomparable White Sands, Red Menace, a book that like a genderswapped, woke Have Spacesuit, Will Travel, with extra helpings of Cold War paranoia and terror, all wrapped up in poetic, Bradburian nostalgia. Read the rest

Chicago is demanding that children on bail wear private-sector ankle-cuffs with mics that can record them without their consent

Children who end up caught in Chicago's policing and justice system are being outfitted with ReliAlert XC3 GPS ankle-cuffs supplied by the Track Group, who use them to log children's movements and to bark orders at them, as well as listening in on them. The children have to wear them 24/7 while on bail awaiting trial. Read the rest

Teens 'not damaged by screen time', new Oxford study finds

Research by Oxford University scientists finds “little evidence of a relationship between screen time and wellbeing in adolescents.” Based on data from over 17,000 teenagers, the study “casts doubt on the widely accepted notion that spending time online, gaming or watching TV, especially before bedtime, can damage young people’s mental health.”

This isn't the first time a scientific study has disproven the notion of a direct link between the amount of time teenagers spend on devices and their well-being, but it's good to know we can worry less about teens' time on-screen. Read the rest

Why are creators paying for TikTok’s mistake?

TikTok is an app that makes it easy for people to make short lip-synching videos, which unsurprisingly makes it a goldmine of creativity and memes. TikTok recently got in hot water with the Federal Trade Commission because it failed to comply with Children’s Online Privacy Protection Act (COPPA). COPPA requires online services that are either “directed at” children under the age of 13 or have knowledge that they have users who are under 13 to arrange for parental permission before they start collecting personal information about those users. Read the rest

World Citizen Comics: a new line of graphic novels for young activists

Firstsecond Books (previously, publisher of In Real Life, which I created with Jen Wang) has announced a new line of YA-oriented graphic novels called "World Citizen Comics," on contemporary activist themes like "how to fight corruption in elections, blast fake news with truth-telling, and even battle would-be dictators both near and far through a better understanding of constitutions and the rule of law." Read the rest

Epic DIY medieval castle playroom/bedroom built for grandkids

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

Satanic Panic 2.0: The Momo Challenge hoax [TW: Self-harm/suicide]

According to reports from gullible parents' organizations, police departments, and media outlets, Kids on the Internet are spreading memes featuring an image of "Momo" (actually a sculpture called "Mother Bird" created by Keisuke Aisawa for the Japanese SFX studio Link Factory) that includes explicit self-harm and suicide instructions (the "challenge" in "Momo challenge" is allegedly to get kids to hurt or kill themselves). Read the rest

Youtube ignored repeated reports about explicit suicide instructions spliced into cartoons on Youtube Kids

[TW: Suicide]

A griefer has been reportedly splicing video of himself giving explicit instructions for committing suicide into animated videos on Youtube Kids; he lets the video run for several minutes before breaking in to say "Kids, remember, cut this way for attention, and this way for results"; despite "hundreds of reports" of this in the comments for the videos, they stayed online for several months until members of the Pedimom community (run by pediatrician/mother Free N Hess) made a concerted effort to report the videos. Read the rest

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