What science toys did you adore as a child? Share your favorites in the comments box below.
Friday, December 28, 2012
By Mike Senese 12.27.12 2:02 PM
Adafruit, the kit-based electronics retailer and promoter of hobbyist engineering, is aiming to teach electronics to a younger demographic. So young that they’re enlisting the help of puppets.
Their new online show, titled Circuit Playground, will teach the essentials of electronics and circuitry to children through kid-friendly dolls with names like Cappy the Capacitor and Hans the 555 Timer Chip. Limor “Ladyada” Fried, Adafruit’s founder and chief engineer (and 2012 Entrepreneur of the Year), will host the episodes, with her team assisting with onscreen and puppeteering duties.
“We’ll have each component have a story, a song and something to do,” Fried says. “We’ll have live feeds in our factory on how things are made. It’s a little Elmo for engineering, a little Mr. Rogers for resistors and a little Sesame Street for Circuits.”
Adafruit is familiar with online broadcasts, hosting weekly “Show-and-Tell” and “Ask an Engineer” shows on Google+ and Ustream for over three years. Circuit Playground was a natural extension for them. “We saw the audience and the participants getting younger with more advanced projects, so we figured there was something there,” Fried says.
One of the first episodes will focus on robots. “ADABOT our robot muppet has a song about how robots can take pictures from mars, and be self-driving cars,” Fried explains. “We want to celebrate the fun and good parts of making things, and even tackle complex subjects like what’s ‘good’ to make — friendly robots for example.”
As a learning companion, Adafruit has also recently produced the coloring book E is for Electronics, and will carry plushie dolls of each character and an add-on for the eponymous Circuit Playground iPhone/iPad app.
Episodes will premiere this March on Google+ and Ustream. Fried holds hope for them to inspire the upcoming crop of designers and builders.
“Will there be a generation of engineers 10 years or so from now saying, ‘Hey, I became an engineer because of that crazy electronics show Circuit Playground‘? I hope so.”
Tuesday, December 25, 2012
Gifts That Keep Giving (if Not Exploding)
By JENNIFER A. KINGSON
Published: December 24, 2012
Jeff Swensen for The New York Times
Mike Kane for The New York Times
Heather Ainsworth for The New York Times
Mike Kane for The New York Times
Jessica Kourkounis for The New York Times
Sunday, June 3, 2012
Check out more at: http://www.fashionplaytes.com
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
What's Modkit Micro?Modkit Micro is a graphical programming environment for microcontrollers. Microcontrollers allow programmers and engineers to add behaviors to everyday objects and electronic gadgets. We created Modkit Micro to bring the world of microcontroller programming to the masses. Modkit Micro helps almost anyone to make almost anything smarter through a simple, yet powerful visual programming interface.
How does Modkit Micro work?We designed Modkit Micro to be as intuitive as possible, while still retaining the power and flexibility of a real programming environment. See the workflow below to get an idea of just how intuitive Modkit Micro is:
This looks like Scratch, how is it related?Modkit Micro is based on years of research at the MIT Media Lab including the popular Scratch project, so it will look familiar to the over 1 million kids and novice programmers who have already been introduced to Scratch.
What Hardware does Modkit Micro Support?We developed Modkit Micro to be flexible enough to support many different microcontroller platforms and boards. See the list below for our currently supported boards:
Is Modkit Micro for kids?Yes. We recommend Modkit Micro for kids of all ages — from 6 to 106!
Modkit Micro is really for anyone who wants to add interactivity to their everyday lives — without dealing with the obstacles associated with traditional programming. This includes artists, inventors, kids, designers, engineers, educators, students and everyday makers. We've tested Modkit Micro with these diverse audiences in workshop settings, Maker Faires and our Learn 2 Teach, Teach 2 Learn educational program.
Here are some clips from a short 40 minute workshop for elementary school students at TEDxKIDS Brussels. Participants made a tangible version of the standard "Hello World" project by tracing their hands on paper and programming servos to wave at their command:
Why is this important?Over the last few years, the DIY/Maker communities have pushed to make electronics and microcontrollers more accessible. As a result, microcontrollers are no longer just for engineers — anyone can now pick up an Arduino board at their local Radioshack! Now that microcontrollers are even easier to find and buy, they should be just as easy to interact with and program. Modkit Micro works to make microcontrollers accessible to anyone, regardless of their particular background or skill set.
Now that the DIY/Maker communities have helped move microcontrollers to the mainstream, it is important to support projects like Modkit Micro that help to democratize programming. By supporting Modkit Micro, you are supporting a tool that will enable the Maker mindset and culture to reach a much wider audience, including schools, community centers, art spaces, and basically anyone else with the desire to create.
Why Kickstarter?We're launching Modkit Micro on Kickstarter to produce copies of the desktop version on a flash drive and to provide early access to the online version to our supporters. Unlike most Kickstarter campaigns, we wanted to give our supporters something before our campaign is even finished. Support Modkit Micro at any level that includes early access to the online version through the Alpha Club and you'll be able to redeem that part of your reward by June 1st.
Tuesday, May 29, 2012
This illuminated dress made up of film slides is a wearable tech version of the little black dress. The Little Slide Dress, designed by Emily Steel, blends modern technology with classic film and uses light to make the images come alive. The individual slides are backed with LEDs that are controlled by a light sensor that is connected to an Arduino Lilypad. When there is lots of light, the LEDs turn off and the dress looks shiny and black, with subtle hints that there might be more to it than meets the eye. When it gets darker, the LEDs are switched on and as the lights slowly pulse, the slide images are revealed.
Emily Steel on the inspiration behind the dress:
The Dress draws inspiration from classic movies and the ‘magic of film’ to create a wearable piece of technology and art… light is so important in the creation and viewing of images [in film] and this was one of the driving forces behind the dress’s creation. With film [we] only see what [is] really going on once the lights go out. For this to work there needs to be a balance of projected and ambient light, something the Little Slide Dress tries to emulate.
It’s April when I ask Makielab founder Alice Taylor how it’s going with Makie, their line of customizable dolls. “It’s going great, with the caveat of the usual (and some unusual) last-minute crazy.” That crazy includes the wrong shipment of eyeballs from Spain, a CTO stranded in America, a run of dolls with two left hands and some deaths in the team-family.
All that told, the company hit their deadline last week, launching a public alpha of Makie.me, a site devoted to designing your own giant-eyed, fully posable moddable, hackable, custom dolls.
Using Makie’s character creator you can customize a doll to your exact specifications. Hit the order button and Makielab will 3-D print your own unique creation, assemble it and ship it to you.
Taylor’s background is at the intersection of games and media and, as you look over Makielab’s first offering, it shows. In terms of look and spirit, Makies have a lot in common with the DIY Blythe doll-modding community. In allowing customers to do some of that customization before the dolls are made, Makie taps into the obsessive attention to detail that can go into creating an avatar for a video game.
And once you’ve got your custom doll in hand, Makie encourages you to go a step further by hacking into it to add electronics.
Read the full article here.
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Electronic textiles, wearable computing and craft tech Makers!
Innovating projects, hands-on workshops and informative lectures
Teach, create and inform the Maker Faire community!
Event: eTextile Lounge at Maker Faire Bay Area
Date: 19 – 20 May 2012
Time: 10AM – 6 PM
Location: Fiesta Hall East Lobby
SATURDAY 19 MAY 2012
- Lynne Bruning - Saturday 19 May 10 AM
- Dr. GlowWire and Louie Lights - EL Wire Costumes Saturday 19 May 11AM
- Lara Grant Soft Circuts Saturday 19 May NOON!
- LAdy Tacos Meet-up in the Lounge! Saturday 19 May 1PM
- Wearable Tech Showcase Saturday 19 May 1:00PM
- Anders Nelson – Erogear will share his LED display clothing Saturday 2PM
- Sally 3:00 – 4:00
SUNDAY 20 MAY 2012
- Ally Seley – Sunday May 20 at 10 AM
- Angela Soft Circuit Saturdays - Soft Circuit Hula Hoop Experiments Sunday 20 May 11AM
- Dia Campbell NOON – 1PM
- Shannon Henry of PolyMath Designs 2:00 – 3:00
ADDITIONAL eTEXTILE LECTURES AT MAKER FAIRE
- Galaxy Goo booth in the Main Expo Hall also has eTextile make and takes
- Angela Sheehan MAKE DEMO stage Sunday 20 May 1:30 -1:50PM
- Lynne Bruning Wearable Computing: from adaptive technology to blink and bling Center Stage Sunday 20 May 2012 2:30 -2:55PM
Friday, May 11, 2012
We have a deep sense of longing for the handmade. Perhaps because each of us, in our own way, has had a craft experience. Sometimes it's an object passed down to us, or one that crosses our path, and connects us to others in traditions, heritage, and rituals. Craft is all around us. You'll find it wherever you look – hiding in plain sight.
Craft in America offers you a place to explore these connections and to inspire your own creativity – through the PBS documentary series and this website. Join us on this voyage of discovery.
View the programs on the free PBS iPhone/iPad app, online at video.pbs.org, or purchase DVDs of the Peabody Award-winning series for your home library.
To learn more about the episodes or featured artists, click TV SERIES or ARTISTS above. Go to theEDUCATION section for online and downloadable lesson plans. Check the SCHEDULE for broadcast times on your local PBS station, and stay tuned for new episodes coming soon. http://www.pbs.org/craftinamerica/
Tuesday, May 1, 2012
Sparkfun also was there with two samplers!
Tuesday, April 3, 2012
Fabric Workshop presents monumental works by Pae White, Mark Bradford, Jennifer Steinkamp
Philly Inquirer, April 1, 2012
Edward Sozanski, Contributing Art Critic
When the Fabric Workshop and Museum moved to Arch Street to make way for the expansion of the Convention Center, it gained some cavernous, loftlike spaces on the upper floors of its building that lend themselves to monumental installation projects.
In the current art climate, there seem to be many artists who like to work this way. But how many can effectively fill a shoebox-proportioned room that's 130 feet long? Pae White can and does, with a mesmerizing construction of red yarn called Summer XX.
White is one of three Los Angeles artists being featured at the Workshop through late spring. The others are Mark Bradford, who fills another large gallery with a mural-like installation called Geppetto, and Jennifer Steinkamp, who needs far less space for her projected animations, but whose impact is nonetheless substantial.
White's piece, inspired by graffiti near her studio in East Los Angeles, is a tribute to a recently deceased mentor. It emerges from the Spanish phrase Hasta la muerte — "until death" — which is spelled out on one long wall in yarn, in blocky, emblematic letters.
Threads project from these emblems across to the opposite wall, where they're anchored high up, just under the ceiling. Walking under this three-dimensional maze of threads, one feels enveloped by it, not only physically but also optically and psychologically. The room is so suffused with brilliant red that one feels surrounded in a mist of it.
Another subtle touch: The wall containing the emblems is painted a dark color, apparently gray. Yet a greenish halo hovers around the concentrated red of the letter-emblems, a bit of optical magic that the modernist painter Josef Albers demonstrated many times over in his Homage to the Square paintings.
One doesn't feel that White is working on this scale just to fill up the space. The installation wouldn't work if it were diminished; it needs this much volume to create the visual and spatial effects that give it psychological punch.
Mark Bradford also uses most of an entire wall for his collage mural called Geppetto, yet here one feels that the underlying concept isn't sufficiently weighty to support so much acreage.
The piece is made of about 2,000 sheets of newsprint that have been "canceled" by overprinting with ink, whose tone ranges from gray to black. The sheets, pasted directly to the wall, overlap in a mosaic arrangement. Bradford has left a long irregular section of wall uncovered; I concede that the symbolism of this escapes me.
Visually, Geppetto is an abstract version of Whistler's famous Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1. Metaphorically, as the title's reference to the Pinocchio fable (Bradford also based an earlier piece on the story), it offers other allusions, something about paternalism, perhaps. There aren't enough clues here to lead to a core truth.
Bradford's short video Niagara, projected on an adjacent wall, is similarly problematic, although it's more engaging visually. A black man in yellow shorts, seen from behind, sashays down a Los Angeles sidewalk. After you see this a few times, you require an explanation, especially about the title.
As your Workshop minder might explain, the man is a prostitute who promenades down this sidewalk daily on his way to a local park, his "place of business." "Niagara" refers to his undulating gait, which reminded Bradford of the way Marilyn Monroe wobbled away from the camera in a memorable scene from the 1953 film Niagara.
So, it's a bit of street theater, life imitating art.
Jennifer Steinkamp's two animations, Fly to Mars and Moth, likewise develop simple ideas, but in a way that produces exceptional lyricism and a Zen-like meditative calm.
In Mars, we watch a small flowering tree proceed through the seasons. It blossoms, leafs out, then turns color, although the branches never go completely bare. All the time the branches sway back and forth, up and down, as if pushed by an invisible wind. The crown of the tree surges, then relaxes, like waves as they approach a beach.
Moth comprises four projections, each one depicting lengths of tattered cloths of contrasting colors rhythmically billowing and slumping like sheets on a clothesline. The motion is continuous, entirely natural, and amazingly dimensional for a flat projection. As with the tree, watching these projections soothes and almost hypnotizes.
There's a coda to this show that you shouldn't miss. Down the block in the New Temporary Contemporary, the Workshop has juxtaposed Bradford's Niagara with a brief video by Philadelphia artist Carlos Avendaño called Brenda.
In this pairing, the context for Niagara shifts to emphasize the theme of sexual identity, and consequently becomes more understandable. This is because Brenda features drag queens on the street at night; it's a beautiful, all-too-brief slice of unconventional life, captured by Avendaño with touching intimacy. Los Angeles artistsalso feature prominently in a new exhibition at the Institute of Contemporary Art called "First Among Equals." It purports to be about how artists collaborate and contribute to each other's work, submerging their identities temporarily to achieve a larger purpose.
The problem is that, with one exception, the art used to demonstrate this concept not only isn't very compelling, it also reveals very little evidence of communal enterprise. Absent the elaborate and somewhat strained didactic foundation, nothing that the show desires to convey is readily evident.
What we seem to have here is an intellectual premise desperately searching for visual evidence to support it.
The exception is a projected video by the Philadelphia group Extra Extra (Philadelphians account for half the participating artists and groups) that takes visitors on a tour of a virtual museum. Each visitor controls his or her "tour" through body movements such as walking in place, lifting a knee, or kicking to the side.
One becomes so preoccupied with the movements that it's hard to focus on what the tour reveals, if anything. The significance of this piece is the steadily advancing state of digital technology and how artists are adapting it.
Larger than life
Work by three California artists remains on view at the Fabric Workshop and Museum, 1214 Arch St., and the New Temporary Contemporary, 1222 Arch St., through late spring. Hours are 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and noon to 5 Saturdays and Sundays. Admission $3. 215-561-8888 or www.fabricworkshopandmuseum.org.
“First Among Equals” continues at the Institute of Contemporary Art, 36th and Sansom Streets, through Aug. 12. Hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Wednesdays, 11 to 6 Thursdays and Fridays, and 11 to 5 Sundays. Free. 215-898-7108 or www.icaphila.org
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Sunday, March 11, 2012
These video shorts will help you-
- select hand sewing needles for conductive threads
- sew electronic hardware to textiles
- compare conductive threads and fabrics
- use conductive thread with your sewing machine
- and so much more!
This series began Fall of 2011 while I was cyber-tutoring an 8th grade student and has grown to include DIY projects, methods and materials.
For hands on help I host the live eTextile Lounge uStream on Tuesday evening.
This global hackerspace is a live broadcast from Denver at 8PM.
Please come by and say Hello!
I hope these help you with your own groovalicious eTextile projects.
Now go out there and make the world a more beautiful place.
The eTextile Lounge: a global hackerspace
on Lynne’s uStream channel Tuesdays 8:15PM or 20:15 in Denver, Colorado USA
Join the google+ eTextile Lounge hangout. Tuesday’s 7:45PM MST