Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Hiding the Litter Box

My wife and I lived in a tiny apartment many, many years ago.  We suddenly went from one cat to three and the litter box couldn't be hidden away in a basement or back room.  I dug an old box out from the trash and using some leftover contact paper, I created the stylish litter box cover shown here.  It helped the cats with their modesty and helped control the smell.  Not completely....but some.  (I believe that is an air freshener on top of the box.)

I had just found this old picture of my litter box creation when I stumbled on the modern day version shown below.

Much more stylish.  Probably a lot more expensive.  Cat probably doesn't care.  My wife probably does.

[via Freshome]

[Image captured from Freshome: http://freshome.com/2010/03/26/kitty-litter-box-cover-that-looks-like-a-small-dresser/]

Monday, March 29, 2010

Breadboard to Protoboard

My electronic skills are still in the infant stage.  I am still working on holding a soldering iron without scorching anything important on myself or my project.  Yet, someday I will move my creations from the breadboard to a permanent protoboard.  Evil Mad Scientist has a short post about a protoboard that is built like a breadboard so soldering your creation is a bit easier.

I'll let you know if and when I get to that point.

[Image captured from Evil Mad Scientist: http://www.evilmadscientist.com/article.php/breadboardproto]

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Are Schools Dangerously Irrelevant?

Interesting talk by Scott McLeod.  He says the economic and information landscape is changing:
1.  Jobs that can be relocated where labor is cheaper will be relocated.
2.  Move from content consumer to content creator where we are hyper-connected with each other.

He then asks what are we doing about it in our schools?  To which he answers, for the most part, nothing.

Ends by asking the audience, "How do we prepare our kids for the next 50 years instead of the last 50 years?"

Good question!

Follow this up with a slideshow given by Scott to the NEA.   Elaborates on some of the previous points.  Also some good slides showing the shifts in jobs.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

How to Solder (Instructables)

Good tutorial on How to Solder over at Instructables.  Never hurts to have several resources/references on a topic when you are first learning. 

Lots of nice closeup shots and some video to boot.

[Image captured from How to Solder: Instructables: http://www.instructables.com/id/How-to-solder/step3/Soldering-wire/]

Monday, March 22, 2010

How to Save a Wet Cell Phone

One of my students spilled some bottled water on her electronic keyboard.  She asked me if she could save it and I told here what I knew which was basically let it dry out before you turned it on again.  Found this little visual that gives some better ideas.  (Tina this is for you!)

[Image from GeekSauad: http://www.geeksquad.com/intelligence/blog/tips-to-save-your-cell-phone-this-st-patricks-day/]

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Employers: Look to gaming to motivate staff

Recent article in itNews that discusses Lee Sheldon's idea of using game design to evaluate the students in his class instead of grades. (Mentioned in this previous post)

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Entertainment vs Engagement

Talk by Doug Johnson titled, Entertainment vs Engagement.

"I think too often we confuse those two terms (entertain and engage), when we think we should be entertaining, we should be engaging."
"Engagement has a learning component that goes with it."

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Rube Goldberg Music Video (This too shall pass/OkGo)

Here's a music video set to a fantastically elaborate Rube Goldberg setup. I've watched the video so many times now, that I felt compelled to go buy the mp3.

Way to market to 50+ year old geeks!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Reasons for teaching Facebook in School

Stumbled on this short post by Ewan MacIntosh titled, "Two reasons for 'teaching Facebook'in school".  He wrote a response to this parents complaint about social media in the classroom:
“Our students don’t need to be a part of a classroom experiment with all this technology stuff. They need to have a real teacher with real textbooks and real tests.”
Head over to his blog to see his response.

[Image captured from facebook homepage: http://www.facebook.com/facebook?ref=pf]

Monday, March 15, 2010

New template features in Blogger

Blogger in Draft announced some new capabilities in terms of the layout of your Blogger template.  I played around with my own layout a bit this past weekend and liked what I saw.

I still  think Blogger is one of the easiest ways to set up and run a blog.  Occasionally, I get frustrated with some of the layout features, but overall, I like it.  I use it.  I recommend it people who want to get started blogging.

Only problem I had with Template Designer was it kept crashing in Firefox.  I switched over to Chrome and it seemed to run just fine.

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Building a Treadmill Desk

Wrote about treadmill desks back in September 2008. Here is a handy tutorial at Instructables on how to build one or around $150. I sold my treadmill last year to gain a little elbow room in my house so I can't try this one out. Still think it's a good idea though.

Here's a link to one study done with school age children and treadmills:  Physical Activity May Strengthen Children's Ability To Pay Attention. (This was not the one I was looking for originally, I think there is one other study out there somewhere that looked at eighth graders, but can't find it.  Anyone?)

The authors three recomendations:
  • scheduling outdoor recess as a part of each school day;
  • offering formal physical education 150 minutes per week at the elementary level, 225 minutes at the secondary level;
  • encouraging classroom teachers to integrate physical activity into learning.
Wonder what a study looking at teachers and the amount of exercise they get during a day might reveal about their health?  Their stress levels?  Their ability to think and plan?

[Image captured from Instructables: http://www.instructables.com/id/Treadmill-Desk/]

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Game-ified Life

Interesting article over at The Technium. Kevin Kelly recommends a talk by Jesse Schell that speculates on the future of games.  He gave this quote that had me hooked:
"He offers a vision where ordinary life is gameified. Cheap tracking technology turns whatever you do into a "game" that accumulates points. As the gameification of life becomes ubiquitous, you go through your day racking up points and "getting to the next level." Instead of getting grades in school you graduate to the next level. It's a head spinning scenario, with lots to love and hate, but well worth considering."
I watched the video and can't stop thinking about the implications.  Worth the 29 minutes. 

At 19:30 in the video he mentions Lee Sheldon who teaches a class and instead of grading uses the accumulation of game points to determine grades.  I tried to find more information on this, but no luck. Anyone else out there have info on this?

[Image: "I lost the game"; Flickr; Uploaded on July 29, 2008
by scragz; http://www.flickr.com/photos/scragz/2715186206/ (CC:Attribution Generic)]

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Diane Ravitch on the American School System

Haven't read The Death and Life of the Great American School System yet but the following quote got me interested:

Over several decades, Ravitch says, American schools have essentially lost their way, forgetting to focus on giving students a solid curriculum and strong teachers. Instead, she says, we've bumbled through a series of crises that have left us with "vague and meaningless standards," an odd, antagonistic public-private competition and an "obsession" with test scores.
Just stumbled across this quote in a USA Today article.  Think it will go on my "to read" list.

Anybody else read it?  Like it?  Hate it?

Moon Base Designs

Looking for some pictures that might get the creative juices flowing?  Here are 15 designs for Moon Base habitats.

Use them as a jumping off point for a design challenge for your students.  Or just use them to fuel your own daydreams.

[Image captured from Dvice: http://dvice.com/archives/2010/02/10-mind-blowing.php]

Monday, March 8, 2010


 I'd love to do this with my students if any of them understood it when I refer to an album or record cover.  Usually I get, "Are you talking about CD's Mr. G?" or "Album? You mean like a picture album?" This conversation usually then degenerates into me calling them "young and ignorant" and them responding with taunts about me being "ancient and senile".

Click on over to Accidental Mysteries to see a whole series of these shots.

[Image captured from Sleeveshot: Accidental Mysteries: http://accidentalmysteries.blogspot.com/2010/02/sleeveface.html]

Friday, March 5, 2010

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Roombas join the Navy

I've been thinking about buying a Roomba to help keep my floors clean.

Now that I know the Navy uses them on the USS Freedom, how can I not?

[Via BotJunkie]
[Image captured from BotJunkie: http://www.botjunkie.com/2010/02/19/navy-gives-up-swabbing-decks-uses-roombas-instead/]

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Honor the Famous with Breakfast

Friend of mine recently commented that the school cafeteria offered Green Eggs and Ham in honor of Dr. Suess's birthday. She was grossed out. I got to thinking it could have been worse, they could have been honoring H.R. Giger, the guy who designed the creepy monster for Alien. My imagination took over and the following four breakfast dishes flowed out of me before I could stop.

There may be a lesson in here somewhere....just not sure where?

Update:  Had a friend ask, "What about Warhol?"  So one more breakfast dish.

[Images all mashed up from bits and pieces of other pictures. Use them as you will]

Epigenitics: New insights into Nature vs Nurture

I vaguely knew about epigenetics but ran across this explanation on a blog I read occasionally.  The author embedded two Nova videos (me too...below) that give some insight into what is meant by an epigenome.  Each of our thousands of genes needs instructions on how to do what they do.  The epigenomes give our genes instructions. Doctor Jirtle in the video says “the epigenome would be like the software that tells the computer when to work, how to work and how much.”  It is believed that epigenomes are strongly influenced by diet and lifestyle.  So, what you eat and how you live can not only effect your health but possibly that of your children and grandchildren.  Fascinating stuff.

I did a little more digging and found this Nova website that compliments the videos.   There is an extended interview with Dr. Jirtle, a slide show about the mice shown in the film and some other materials including a teacher's guide. 

Part 1: Epigenetics 

Part 2: Epigenetics

[Image captured from the slide show off the Nova Site:  http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/sciencenow/3411/02-tale-flash.html]

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Beautiful Robot Art

My Red Tie
Click over to 30 Beautiful Artworks of Robots to get a great sampling of some beautiful robot themed graphics.  Never know when a good robot picture might come in handy?

[Image: "My Red Tie" by arcipello captured from Six Revisions: 30 Beautiful Artworks of Robots; http://sixrevisions.com/digital-art/30-beautiful-artworks-of-robots/]