Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Helicopter Design Challenge for Kids

helicopter design challenge for kids
I'd never heard of Sikorksy helicopters until I received an email about their Helicopter 2050 Challenge. Apparently, they make Black Hawk helicopters and such. They're hosting their second annual design competition for kids ages 9-16..

From the looks of it, pie in the sky ideas are welcome. According to the rules, entries, which must include at least one drawing, will be judged on uniqueness of concept (50%); description of invention/idea (25%); and impact on environment (25%). I don't get a sense that the design needs to be highly technical.

Regardless of whether the idea of a contest takes flight with your child, they've got a great downloadable booklet filled with simple experiments and DIY activities to help kids learn about concepts like lift and drag. If my boys weren't away at camp, we'd be trying some now; they look fun.

The 2050 Challenge winner will receive a trophy, a $1,000 scholarship in the form of a check and a trip with a parent/guardian to Sikorsky HQ in Stratford, Connecticut.

Don't dally, the entry deadline for the Helicopter 2050 Challenge is September 15, 2012.


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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

In Praise of Sally Ride

As the mother of two very STEM-minded boys, I admit to sometimes feeling my panties getting all bunched up when I read about special opportunities for girls in STEM (Science, Technology, Education and Math) low cost opportunities, fun opportunities, networking opportunities. Why do the girls get the this kind of attention?

And then I see my son's group at engineering camp has only two girls out of 16 students. I go to a Project Lead The Way meeting at school and see a room mostly crowded with boys.

I read a post like this, from my friend Christina, about how Sally Ride influenced her to reach for the stars.

And I get it.


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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Super Awesome Sylvia Meets The Maker Mom

Admittedly Super Awesome Sylvia and I only chatted over Twitter and email, with the assistance of her dad because she's only 11 years old. Even at her young age, she's an accomplished Maker and, look, an adventurous cover girl!

The Maker Mom: What is "making" and how did you get involved in it?

Super Awesome Sylvia:   Making is the exact opposite of consuming products. Instead of buying, you make! Bored? Don't buy a toy, make a paper airplane! Getting involved in making more things is easy, check out some cool websites like hackaday.com, makezine.com and craftzine.com for inspiration, or follow tutorials at instructables.com or makeprojects.com. Just take the first step to build, not buy! (Buying tools and parts to make things with can be ,though).

TMM:  I'm guessing that the making or building process doesn't always go as planned. How do you work through those frustrating moments?

SAS: Failure is just the beginning for learning, it's never "the end", unless you let it be. Don't give up!

Read more of Sylvia's philosophies and favorite projects and tips in my STEM Mom blog at KidzVuz.com!







Like The Maker Mom on Facebook. See us on Pinterest. Watch our videos on YouTube.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Evanston Mini-Maker Faire, August 4 and 5

Like the Night Circus, the Evanston Mini-Maker Faire will arise seemingly out of nowhere, be filled with wonders and delights and last for only a short time. It will run from the evening of August 4 and from 10-6 on the August 5th.

Having never been to a Maker Faire, I can't paint a detailed picture, but I am confident it will be a unique experience. Art + technology +ingenuity.

There will be inventive items to spark your imagination and ignite your maker mojo. If you're more about the buying than the making, no worries, some items will be for sale.

You can see a 3D printer in action and maybe even get a 3D shot of your fine self.

There will be special activities for the kids, like a deconstruction zone where they get to take stuff apart.

I don't know what else, but it's going to be interesting at the very least. I pinky swear.

There's a family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) you can buy online prior to August 4 that's $30 plus a small ticket fee, making the Maker Faire a pretty interesting and affordable way to spend the day. Have you seen what a family trip to one of Chicago's fabulous museums costs these days?

By the way, I'm coordinating volunteers for the Make booth and I still have two, two-hour slots to fill on the 5th. Drop me a note if you're interested in helping out!

Like The Maker Mom on Facebook. See us on Pinterest. Watch our videos on YouTube.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Roller Coaster Physics, Take II: Win Tickets to Six Flags

image via www.sixflags.com
This post is sponsored by Discover card. After all, The Maker Mom needs to pay for Arduino classes and she uses her Discover card. A lot. Plus, one lucky reader will win four tickets to the Six Flags location of her/his choice! Please to keep reading.

Update: 8/2 Thanks for playing. The winner of the tickets is MegRyansMom, as selected by random.org.

Remember the marble roller coaster project? Well, here's a chance to go big with roller coaster physics.

Really big.

I'm offering you and your family a chance to play the role of the marble as you zip, zag, twist and drop on some really great roller coasters at the Six Flags location of your choice.

Not a fan of roller coasters? You can eat your way through the park, play the midway games, stick with the tamer rides, watch shows, go to the water park or, my favorite, people watch.

Discover is the official credit card of Six Flags. As such, they offer a variety of cardmember perks, including a 5% discount on all Six Flags online and in-park purchases such as admission tickets, food, merchandise, and souvenirs.

In addition, cardmembers receive expedited entrance into the park during the first two hours of operation each day. And now through September, cardmembers get a 5% Cashback Bonus on all gas, theme park and movies on up to $1,500 in purchases. (Note to self: gas is $3.75/gallon right now, make sure we're getting this perk.)

To enter to win 4 passes to the Six Flag Park of your choice to be used by December 2012, a value of roughly $200, depending upon the park location and ages of your group members:

Comment once sharing the name of your favorite roller coaster ride. I must have a way to contact you, so be sure to include your email, Twitter handle or blog link.

You can also have an additional optional extra entry if you Tweet about this giveaway with the hashtag #TheMakerMom and come back to let me know you did.


Though not required for entry, you are encouraged to follow @Discover on Twitter and like them on Facebook. Same goes for The Maker Mom on Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube. Karma, people. 

The fine print:
Comment by 11:00 PM CST on August 1, 2012 for a basic entry.
No purchase necessary to win, but the winner must be 18 years of age.
Open to US residents, Canadians and anyone who can make it to a Six Flags before the tickets expire in 12/12.
Winner will chosen via random.org or similar vehicle and will be announced by August 4. If the original winner does respond within 48 hours, a new winner will be chosen.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

10 Must-Download STEM iPad Apps for Kids

image via Cat Physics app
I'm happy to have my super-smart friend, Shelly Kramer, chime in today with her 10 favorite STEM-focused iPad apps for kids. See her bio below. 


I love apps – for anyone who knows me, that’s no surprise. But I also love STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) initiatives. Yup, I’m a geek. And as the mother of four daughters (including 6-year-old twins), I’m pretty passionate about teaching my girls about cool STEM stuff. Barbies are fine. But brains are even better. At least in my book.

When Kim asked me to write a guest post for her new blog, I was thrilled. And even though summer vacation is well underway, learning doesn’t have to stop. Everybody needs a break from the pool every now and then!

So I thought you might enjoy reading about my favorite, must-download STEM iPad apps for kids. The best part? iPad apps are typically similar to games, which means kids are learning without even realizing it.

Without further ado, here are some of my favorites—and I’ve tried to include things for all age groups … here goes:

Cat Physics (99 cents): Seriously—who doesn’t love anything having to do with cats? Who knew that playing with cats could help you learn physics? In Cat Physics, you’ll pass the ball from one cat to another. Sounds simple, right? You’ll also have to deal with obstacles like flip boards, glass windows and trap doors, to name a few. The app includes 100 puzzles, so you’ll have plenty of opportunities to test your cat physics skills.

Sid’s Science Fair ($2.99): My girls love, love, love “Sid the Science Kid. This app, designed by PBS and the Jim Henson Company is designed for kids ages 3 to 6. It features Sid, the star and uses three science fair games to help kids with experiential learning in core science and math concepts like classification, charting and sequencing. Love this app! It’s worth the price tag, too.

Coin Math ($1.99): My twin girls are going into First Grade, and are all about math and learning about money, counting and all that. That makes this game super popular at out house. Using coins, kids will learn how to count, add and make change. This is a great app that combines math skills with the practical application of handling money. Coin Math is recommended for users at the elementary grade level.

King of Math (free for basic version; 99 cents for the full version): This fast-paced game allows players to advance to various levels after answering math questions and problems. The subject matter includes addition, subtraction, division, fractions, equations, statistics and more. As you answer more questions, you’ll collect stars and achievements and can also compare your score with your friends. The app is ideal for middle school/junior high users.

Bobo Explores Light ($4.99): Billed by the app developer as “a fully functional science museum for kids 4-12,” Bobo Explores Light is an app that combines fundamental science concepts with humor and whimsy. Your kidlets can explore topics like lasers, photosynthesis, colors and bioluminescence, as well as 3-D holograms. You can also take pictures of your experiences with the app and send them as postcards to your friends or to other iCloud-enabled devices. I know the grandparents will especially like that!

TinkerBox HD (free): With this app, kids can learn basic engineering concepts while building machines and creating their own inventions. And, once finished, they can share it with their friends. TinkerBox also includes a puzzle mode, which includes physics-based puzzles and mechanical concepts. You’ve got to rely on creative problem solving skills to win—who doesn’t have a kid that loves that kind of thing? 
The Chemical Touch (99 cents): This is a simple yet info-packed app that lets users explore the properties of elements, standard amino acids and nucleobases. Kids can learn about the elements using a touch-sensitive periodic table, and then organize by color depending on various properties. For even more information about each element, amino acid or nucleobase, the app takes users directly to the Wikipedia page for each object.

image via The Chemical Touch
The Chemical Touch (99 cents): This is a simple yet info-packed app that lets users explore the properties of elements, standard amino acids and nucleobases. Kids can learn about the elements using a touch-sensitive periodic table, and then organize by color depending on various properties. For even more information about each element, amino acid or nucleobase, the app takes users directly to the Wikipedia page for each object.

SimplePhysics ($1.99): In this game, kids are tasked with building something structurally sound that accomplishes a certain task. Plus, they’ve got to build it with as little money as possible — a pretty cool challenge to begin learning at an early age, right? And, to make it even more stupendous, once your design is complete, you can test it with explosions or by smashing it. As with a lot of the apps, once you’ve created a winning design, you can share the blueprints with friends. Sharability is part of what makes apps so awesome, isn’t it?

AL Abacus
($1.99): An abacus on an iPad — the past has officially met the future! The abacus is a time-tested tool that helps kids learn math and arithmetic by encouraging them to visualize quantities, minimize counting and develop mental strategies. The app includes a double-sided abacus that’s grouped in fives and tens on one side, and trades to the thousands on the other.

Solar Walk ($2.99): I always loved learning about the solar system, and my kids do, too. Solar Walk is an app that features an interactive model of the solar system and Milky Way. The time machine function allows you to travel through space and time, and you can also see real-time trajectories of Earth’s artificial satellites. Learn about each of the planets, including name, mass, radius and internal structure. If you have a space-loving kid in your life, this app is a must!

Hopefully you’ll find one of these apps as exciting as I did for your kids this summer. Camp is great, the pool is wonderful and sports keep them in shape. But exercising those brain cells is pretty awesome, too. And when you can trick them into doing it with an app, so much the better.

Have I missed an education, STEM focused app that you love? If so, I’d love to know about it. Shelly Kramer is the Founder and CEO of V3 Integrated Marketing. A 20+ year marketing veteran, she's a strategist, brand storyteller, digital marketing pro, a wife, a mom and a geek. Mostly in that order. 
 



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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Look for the Maker Mom at the Morton Grove Farmers' Market this Saturday

Mark your calendar! The Maker Mom has a guest appearance at the Morton Grove Farmers' Market this Saturday from 9 to noon.

After fueling up with a cup of coffee and the best gluten-free goodies I've ever tasted, I'll be hosting a big Snap Circuits playdate as well as a chance for kids to create their own wacky marshmallow shooters.

Who knows what else will be in store? I might even have a couple of goodies to give away to my new friends.

Like The Maker Mom on Facebook. See us on gadgetsPinterest. Watch our videos on YouTube.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Kid-friendly Science? There's an App for That! STEM Girl Friday

kid science app on itunesToday's STEM Girl Friday shines the spotlight on a woman. And mom of three. And a college-level microbiology teacher. And a blogger, who I had the chance to meet IRL a few years ago. It's Liz Heinecke of Kitchen Pantry Scientist. She's also the co-creator of the new Kid Science app!

I reconnected with Liz to talk about her exciting new venture.

The Maker Mom: First, a little history. When and why did you start your blog?

Liz: I started the KitchenPantryScientist blog back in 2009.  After writing a kids activity blog for a local retailer, I realized that although there were a number of fantastic craft sites for kids, it was hard to find science experiments that were safe for young children and could be done with household items. My website is based on the idea that if you make science easy for parents, they are more likely to do it at home with their kids.

TMM: What’s encouraging in terms of science (or STEM- Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) education in our public schools?

Liz: My oldest is eleven, and our school district doesn’t start implementing STEM coursework until middle school, but it sound like STEM has made a real difference here. Our district recently changed the curriculum so that students take physics first, to lay the groundwork for chemistry and biology. “As a result of these curriculum changes, the District has seen a jump in the number of students taking regular and advanced math and science courses. Norlin-Weaver also credits this rise in interest to the implementation of Project Lead the Way in sixth grade to allow for continuous, rigorous STEM coursework from middle through high school.”

TMM: What’s discouraging about it?

Liz: It’s discouraging that STEM is not a part of the curriculum of all grade schools.  It’s important to spark kids’ interest and literacy in science early.

TMM: So tell me about the app. Why'd you create it?

Liz: The idea behind KidScience app is to make it easy for parents, grandparents, babysitters, and older kids to do science experiments any time or anywhere using what’s on hand. It’s set up like a recipe app, so you can search for experiments based on ingredients you have, scientist’s age (2-92), time available, or science type.
kid science app

Simple recipes, combined with photos and watch-and-do videos, make science easy for everyone. Explanations of the science behind the fun are included with each project, and new experiments are added regularly.

The KidScience Premium app is available on the iTunes App Store for $4.99(USD) or you can download a free version of KidScience that contains the same experiments, with limited initial free videos. Additional videos are available for purchase with the free version for $.99 (USD) each, and when you download five, your app is automatically unlocked to download all current and future videos for free.

I dreamed up KidScience app about two years ago and CS Web Concepts and Design agreed to co-create it with me. It hit the App Store this summer, with two versions available.

TMM: What’s your best tip to develop science-loving kids?

Liz: As parents, we don’t have to have all the answers, but we have an opportunity to foster our kids’ natural curiosity and creativity.
  •  Encourage them to ask questions.
  •  Ask them questions.
  •  Be a role model by wondering out-loud.
  •  When they ask why, throw the question back at them, even if you know the answer.
  • Play twenty questions.

TMM: Parents who lack a science, tech or engineering background sometimes get concerned that they don't know enough to foster a love of those areas, but I think you provide great tips for us all. Good luck with you app!


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After I contacted her about the interview, Liz offered me a premium download. My husband is the one with the iPad. As of this writing I have not downloaded it. 

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Having Fun, Taking Risks and Paying the Price

A day at the beach, 2011.
I just read a chilling story about 12-year-old boy from New Jersey who died when a sand tunnel collapsed on him. That story hit incredibly close to home, though admittedly my boys tend to dig giant holes rather than tunnels in the sand.

I've long wondered if my boys have guardian angels following their every move. It's incredible that we've only visited the ER once for stitches in all my years as a parent.

Honestly, I once left them outside to fingerpaint while I grabbed the phone inside (people didn't have cell phones on them at all times back in the olden days) and when I returned, my heart jumped to see them slipping and sliding on their gooey paintings, narrowly avoiding cracking their skulls on the sidewalk.

My boys are smart, but do incredibly stupid things sometimes. They are unaware of the risks, rolling their eyes at me when I tell them to watch out for this or that. Do they know too little or do I know too much? Sometimes it's hard to say.

I met Angie Six of The Risky Kids blog at Blissdom earlier this year. As I sorted through the business cards I collected at the conference, hers stood out. "I like that," I thought. Angie sums up their philosophy,

"The Risky Kids is our place to share a different way to play and parent: one that worries less, encourages freedom and fun, and yes, might include a few bumps and bruises"
She also references Gever Tulley's book, 50 Dangerous Things (you should let you kids do) which is a favorite in our house, too. My boys were older when the book came out, so they had already done many of the 50 things, but there's at least one I'm scared to let the boys do.

It's certainly not build a sand tunnel and crawl through it.
My heart goes out the family of the boy who died on the beach today.

After reconnecting with Angie on Twitter last week, I headed back to The Risky Kids to see what I'd missed. She has an interesting post on the financial implications of risky play that strikes a cord with me.

I admit that seeing my boys hang upside down, attempting to flip themselves off the monkey bars or watching my tween climb the tree on our front lawn gets me not only thinking about a broken arm (or neck!), but the cost of repairing injuries (or God forbid, long-term care, rehab and uncovered pre-existing conditions!).

Do you see death or dollar signs when your kids do risky things? Do you ever let them do risky things? (Not that my son asked for permission when he stuck metal tweezers into the electric outlet.)
How, when, where do you draw the line?


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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

How to Make a Marble Roller Coaster

how to make a marble roller coaster with foam insulation pipe
When it comes to blogging, life often follows art (if you consider my carefully crafted blog posts works of art, that is). What I mean is that blogging helps me live with intention. If I blog about healthy eating, I'm more careful about what I put in my mouth. If I start a blog about making stuff, suddenly, we're making stuff, like marble roller coasters.

My teen learned how to make these roller coasters a few years back in a course on roller coaster physics. On a recent trip to the hardware store (there are many), he picked up a several bags of 3/4 inch foam pipe insulation. Each bag come with several pieces and costs just a couple of dollars.


The Maker Teen and his brother headed to our unfinished basement with a roll of duct tape and a marble and got to work. If you're concerned about marking up your interior walls or don't have a basement, a garage might be a good place to try this.

how to make a marble roller coaster

Basically, you join the tubes together with duct tape and experiment until you find a design that looks cool and works, i.e. the marble doesn't get stuck midway. Though the design pictured doesn't have any large loops, it's possible to make them.

how to make a marble roller coaster

Their creation had an interesting segment near the end where the marble rolled uphill passing over a hole until it ran out of momentum, then slid back down into said hole.

how to make a marble roller coaster

I had nothing to do with their design. It's just as well. If I had my hands in it, I would have created a more blog and video friendly design and interfered with their fun. I love that my boys did this on their own (together!) and only called me down to test it out and take a few photos.

To add more science to the fun, this site will help you discuss concepts like potential energy, kinetic energy and Newton's Laws of Motion.

If you try a project from The Maker Mom, we'd love to see it. Share a photo on our Facebook wall!

Watch our videos on YouTube.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Monday, July 16, 2012

National Parenting Gifted Children Week

supporting emotional needs of gifted children
Image via www.sengifted.com
It's National Parenting Gifted Children week! Really? Really?! What genius plans something like this, an awareness campaign designed to call attention to the special learning and social-emotional needs of gifted and talented children, during the summer when the kids are out of school?

Granted our gifted kids might be driving us absolutely batty this time of year without school year schedules to keep life ordered combined with excitabilities and intensities and such, but it's so much easier to, say, host a parent educational program, during the school year.

So anyway, while the teachers are traveling, working summer jobs or hanging out with their own children and administrators are doing whatever they do during the summer, let's celebrate!

I have just one point to make followed by a lot of ranting. Feel free to skip the ranting, but read this:

Giftedness, like autism, exists on a spectrum. Gifted kids, especially those at the far end of the spectrum (extremely high ability, highly or profoundly gifted) have unique educational and social-emotional needs that are typically not met by via traditional curriculum in a standard classroom. When schools provide services for such students, those programs (if well-designed and implemented, at least) are educational interventions.

Would you suggest that your school stop offering the services of a speech therapist or social worker? Then for goodness sake, why are gifted programs on the chopping block when budgets get tight?

My kids are 12 and 14. I'm cynical and impatient, but I wasn't always.

I was the parent who bit her tongue, not wanting to be that mom. I trusted the empty reassurances provided by the people who could have made things better.

And in turn, other times I came on too strong, tired of the patronizing responses when it came to my boys.

In terms of the larger gifted community (before Twitter and Facebook Groups), I hosted an annual salon with a featured expert speaker, I spoke up at a school board meeting. Even at the state level, I tried to fight the good fight for gifted kids, but the blind kids kicked my butt!

I've been told things a parent should never hear from a school teacher or administrator:
  • There's nothing we can do to challenge him beyond what we have.
  • Don't let him get too far ahead or he'll be bored in class.
  • We wish there was a way for him to be challenged other than homeschooling.
And you know what? In Illinois, all those things are technically okay, because we don't have a funded mandate for gifted services.

You know what else? We don't have a national mandate, either.

Do you know how many federal education dollars went toward gifted education last year in the form of the Javits grant, the only federal program the specifically addresses the needs of the gifted and talented?

ZERO. none. zip. zilch. nada.

(On the bright side, one could accurately claim it's twice as much as the year before.)

No wonder I'm bitter.


I'll be honest, the situation is not going to get better anytime soon, but this doesn't mean that parents of gifted children should simply let their kids be steamrolled. They need to unite, rise up and make noise.

And also, strongly consider homeschooling.

Regardless of your child's abilities or the educational path you choose, remember you are your child's best advocate.

</rant>

To read more about the challenges of parenting gifted children, I invite you to peruse the posts lovingly archived on the gifted tab above. These will bring you to other blogs where they were originally published. 

Happy NPCGW! Be sure to let me know how you're celebrating. Leave a link in the comment section if you've written about this on your blog.


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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Watermelon Under Pressure

I'm not sure whose wacky idea it was to see how many rubber bands they could wrap around a watermelon before it would explode, but then again I know a certain toddler who stuck his fingers down his throat, gagging himself, "just to see what would happen." And I know another curious nine-year-old who stuck a pair of tweezers into an electric socket for that same reason. (Thankfully, it was a GFIC and the tweezers had a rubber handle.)

So, these young men kept placing rubber bands around a watermelon until, well, what do you think happens? It's part WTH?! and part awesome, though admittedly it would have been even better had it been filmed with a high-speed camera.



I originally posted this on The Maker Mom Facebook page (there are lots of fun links and good convos there; have you "liked" us yet?) but wanted to share it here after my friend Rebecca commented that it's a good metaphor the way persistent children wear parents down until they snap.

Rubber band 1: "Mom, can I get an XBox?"
Rubber band 2: "Mom, I'm the only one who doesn't have XBox, when can I get one?"
And so on: 
"Mom, I know I didn't do the thing I was supposed to do to be able to get XBox, but I think I deserve one, anyway."
"Mom, I will pay for an XBox with my own money, so why can't I get one?"
"Mom, you said we could get an XBox."
"Mom, there's nothing to do around here. If I had an XBox, I'd have more friends over."
"Mom, why can't I get an XBox?"
"Mom, it's not fair that I can't get an XBox."
"Mom, when can I get an XBox?"
"Mom, can I get a PS3?"

It's a wonder my head hasn't exploded after all these years of parenting.

Hat tip to wonderful Gena Mazzeo for pointing out this video.

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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Friday, July 13, 2012

GADgET Camp: STEM Girl Friday

STEM camp for girls in Chicago GADGET Triton college
For our first STEM Girl Friday, I'm excited to call attention to a Chicago area STEM camp for girls. Hosted at Triton College in River Grove, Illinois, GADgET Camp, Girls Adventuring in Design Engineering and Technology, is for girls ages 12 - 16.

This isn't one of those take apart toaster and make it into something else, kind of camp. No, these girls learn to work with some heavy duty equipment like drill presses. Campers also get to meet women working in STEM careers and visit area businesses.


The 2012 camp is filled to capacity, but is a good deal (as far as geek camps go, at least) at only $95 for the four-day camp. To learn about the 2013 program of other STEM Girls programs at Triton, call (708) 456-0300 ext. 3130.


This sounds great, though I'd love to see GADgET Camp last an entire week. My only question is, do they have a mom version of the camp?


Be sure to enter to win a free copy of the "School's Out" edition of MAKE Magazine.

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Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Win a Copy of MAKE's "School's Out" Issue

Edited 7/20/12 The giveaway is now closed. Congrats to Bonnie, our winner!

Yes, I've been talking about MAKE a lot this week. When my old friend and app creator extraordinaire Jami Becker mentioned how much she enjoys the magazine, I remembered that their PR team sent me a few extra copies for my Science Fun TV segment and I have some to give away. 

I'm going to give away two, but one goes to Jami since she gave me the idea. Actually, another one went to a camera man who was jazzed by it. But I still have a copy for one lucky reader!

In addition to being chock full of projects, some of which will be included in Maker Camp, the magazine features several young, inspiring makers. It's also full of 3D photos and the obligatory glasses with which to view the images.

Sample projects include:
glow in the dark rock candy
cigar box guitar
silk screening
chocolate-covered banana pops
backyard zip line

There's something for everyone.

If you don't win, you can still check out the projects online, but there's something to be said for a hard copy that you and the kiddos can thumb through at your leisure.

To enter to win this issue:

1. (Required) Comment once on this blog sharing something you'd like to see covered on The Maker Mom. Comment by 11:00 PM CST on July 19, 2012 for a basic entry. US addresses only. No purchase necessary to win, but the winner must be 18 years of age. The prize has a retail value of $9.99.

You can also have up to four optional extra entries; I need a separate comment for each of these items, so I can count each one as an extra entry:

2. Tweet about the entry with the hashtag #TheMakerMom and come back to let me know you did.

3. Subscribe to my YouTube Channel so you can keep up with The Maker Mom videos. Come back to let me know.

4. Follow The Maker Mom Board on Pinterest. Come back and leave a separate comment to let me know about this.

Although I won't be giving entries for FB likes or shares, they are totally welcome and create good karma.

Good luck!

P.S. If you're feeling lucky, stop over at Reluctant Renovator to check out the Serta memory foam pillow giveaway.


   Like The Maker Mom on Facebook. See us on Pinterest. Watch our videos on YouTube.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Grab Your Pliers, It's Time for Maker Camp on Google+!

Make Magazine's Maker Camp on Google+
Forget those annoying health forms, endless carpools and that stinky bug spray.  MAKE Magazine and Google+ have the perfect summer solution for your teens. Perfect as in: free, fun and educational. (Just don't tell the kids about that last part.) Maker Camp!

MAKE magazine has partnered with MomImpact and The Maker Mom to help spread the word about this new virtual camp.

Maker Camp will feature real 30 projects in 30 days from July 16 to August 24 over virtual Google+ hangouts.

Designed for teens (because you need to be 13 to have a Gmail account and be on Google+, right?), Maker Camp can also be attended by younger children along with an adult who has a G+ account.

Campers will build projects featured in the fab School's Out edition of MAKE magazine, but there are other great projects in the works, too. In addition to making cool stuff, teens will expand their G+ circles to make new friends. After all, this is one camp that doesn't waitlist; an unlimited number of teens can join in.

And, again, it's free! All that's needed is an active  G+ profile that follows MAKE.

Each of the six(!) weeks of camp will feature
  • Maker Monday
  • Tinkering Tuesday
  • Weird Science Wednesday
  • Theoretical Thursday and
  • Field Trip Friday, a virtual trip via Google+'s Hangout on Air feature
Take a peek! Details for the first week of camp, including supply lists, are already posted. Doesn't it look fun? An all-star roster of counselors will walk teens through the project each morning, as well as share tips for completing it.

In the afternoon, the day's counselor will host a G+ Hangout On Air to answer questions and give campers a chance to show off their projects with photos and video.

My teen will be away at engineering camp next week, but I'll be there with the tween. I'm going to hedge my bets and guess that Thursday will be one of our days because he's a fan of polymer clay (i.e. Sculpey) projects, as you will see below, and I'm a fan of Mark Frauenfelder. But it's free and ongoing, so we can drop in any day, at any time.

When will you be there? Let me know; maybe we can join in together.

If you'd like to build out this program in your community without turning your living room into Maker Camp Central send a local librarian, summer program coordinator, or youth director to this page for more info. 

If you have questions about this exciting first Maker Camp, see the Maker Camp FAQ page. If you don't see the answer you need there, feel free to leave a comment below and I'll get it answered for you.


Happy camping!


A gift for the social studies teacher circa 2011.
Call of Duty. If I wasn't his mother, I would wonder about the child who made this.

This was a sponsored post. All opinions are my own. I <3 geek camps.


Like The Maker Mom on Facebook. See us on Pinterest. Watch our videos on YouTube.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Summer Science Fun

Thanks for stopping by if you saw my segment on Summer Science Fun this morning on WGN Morning News (and even if you didn't). There's so much talk of "the summer slide," that is children's math, literacy and science skills slipping during the during this time of year, but I think these skills can soar during the summer if you make it fun. I was thrilled to share a few items that can help.

Please note that with the exception of the Drawdio, these items were provided by their manufacturer or PR representatives.

Snap Circuits

The Snap Circuit 300 ($64.95) set includes everything you need to complete 300 different experiments with electricity. You, I mean your child, heh, can make things buzz, spin and light up as he explores the basic elements of a circuit.

Keep reading!

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Welcome to The Maker Mom!

The Maker Mom blog

Welcome to The Maker Mom, my new blog about science, tech, STEM, gifted kids, Arduino, and of course, fun projects for makers of all sorts.

Take a peek around as I've been adding content in recent weeks. I've also (finally!) posted an archive of my posts about parenting and educating gifted children. Thanks to my friend, Mari, I've got them linked with titles and descriptions.

Some of you might be thinking, "What?! Kim has another blog?" Frankly, I'm as surprised as anyone. Read about how this blog started with one idea and quickly morphed into something bigger and better.

I'm pleased to present the first new episode of When Geeks Grow Up since 2010. Jay Silver, featured geek, is finishing up his PhD at MIT and is working at Intel as a maker. Yes, that's really his job title. I'll be featuring Jay's Drawdio on the blog later this month (and also on WGN Morning News on tomorrow, July 10 around 8:40, so tune in or set your DVRs now).

I talked to Jay about his childhood and what he's doing now. I love his philosophy:and enthusiasm, Explore the world! Change the world!

If we have creative confidence, we can do anything.




Kudos to Jen Merrill of Laughing at Chaos, for pointing me to the Makey-Makey Kickstarter project. If I hadn't seen that, Jay would have been just another interesting person I met in the STEM working group at Clinton Global Initiative: America, instead of the man that helped relaunch my series. (Also, Jen has a book about 2e kids coming out soon, so stop by her blog to get deets.)

I also want to give a nod to Beth Blecherman of TechMamas. Years ago, I mentioned that my then-10-year-old enjoyed reading Wired*, but I felt much of the content was inappropriate for him. Beth introduced me to Make Magazine, a periodical that both intrigues and confuses me (much like a cookbook full of tempting photos and wonderful, but complex, recipes I'm unlikely to prepare).


I'm also thankful to Rebecca Levey and Nancy Rabinowitz who invited me to contribute to the KidzVuz parent blog as the STEM Mom (coming soon), which got me jonesing to write about the topic even more. Soapbox? Yes, please.

Thanks to Hope Bertam, who wisely suggested I ditch ArduinoMom.com and set up shop at TheMakerMom, instead. I'm grateful that Chicagoan Melissa Pierce Tweeted about Pumping Station: 1, Chicago's north side hackerspace. I didn't even know it existed, but knew I needed to see the place. Within a week I had visited the PS: One twice.

I truly appreciate the vision, skills and professionalism of Cynthia Wheeler (@napwarden) from NW Designs. She translated my long-winded blog description into a logo that's just right and she delivered on time even though her computer quit on her.


You know what? I met all of those fabulous women except Mari through blogging. I'm eager to start new adventures and meet equally amazing people as a result of this site. Honestly, it's already happening.


Thanks to my family, for supporting tolerating my new venture. A special shout-out to my teen because he's doing all the soldering until I get bifocals proficient.

And finally, thank you for stopping by. Please stay in touch. You can subscribe by email via the widget near the top of the sidebar, like The Maker Mom on Facebook, follow us on Pinterest, subscribe to our videos on YouTube.

If you're a reader with blog-worthy projects or ideas, drop me a note and we'll talk about a guest post. If you're a PR person or brand rep thinking along those lines, see my about page.


*Honestly, I'm shocked that Wired hasn't come out with a Wired Kids yet.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Check out our logo!

In preparation for our official launch this week, I've posted a new logo up top. Check it out!


Like The Maker Mom on Facebook. Watch our videos on YouTube.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Moving and Getting Ready

The Maker Mom Blog
In recent weeks I've been settling into my new bloggy digs here at The Maker Mom and I'm almost ready for our big launch next week. We're launching big with a Summer Science Fun segment on Chicago's WGN Morning News scheduled for July 10 (Tesla Day!).

Those boxes you see pictured on the right hold some of the goodies I'll be showing off on the TV segment,thanks to Radio Shack, Make and Elenco. It's going to be a lot of fun and there's so much great stuff ahead. I can't wait to share it with you.

Stay tuned!

Like The Maker Mom on Facebook. Watch our videos on YouTube.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

How to Tie Dye with Sharpie Markers

Tie Dye look with Sharpie Markers and rubbing alcohol
It's not too late for a fun Fourth of July project experiment to study the effect of a solvent on permanent markers. Rubbing alcohol + Sharpies = simple and cool faux tie dye.

All you need is:
  •  a bottle of rubbing alcohol
  •  a handful of Sharpie or other permanent markers 
  •  a t-shirt or two that you're willing to alter 
It's also handy to have:
  •  an eye dropper or spray bottle to disperse the rubbing alcohol
  •  an aluminum tray or pie tin to separate the sides of the shirt
Watch the video or read below for instructions.



To make a Sharpie tie-dye, stretch the dry t-shirt over the pan/bowl (or put aluminum foil covered cardboard inside the shirt). Make a series of dots using the Sharpie markers and use an eyedropper or spray bottle to gently apply the rubbing alcohol over the dots. (With young kids, the eye droppers always felt like a much safer option.)

As the shirt soaks up the alcohol, the color spreads, creating a tie-dye effect as pictured above.

Allow the shirt to dry and then iron or put it in the dryer on high for 15 minutes to set the design. (Note! Fabric drenched in combustible liquid + intense heat = danger, so let the shirt dry before setting the design in the dryer.) Wash as normal.

Although permanent ink does not dissolve in water, it will dissolve in alcohol. As the alcohol gets absorbed into the fabric of the shirt, it carries molecules of color with it. When the ink evaporates, the color is left behind.

It's especially interesting to apply the rubbing alcohol to secondary colors and watch them spread out into their primary constituents.

It's fun to experiment with creating different intensities, shapes and lines (i.e. a circle of small light dots vs. heavy ones vs. a square made up of lines or dots, etc.) and the resulting shirts are quite interesting. Also, this project is so much easier to do than traditional tie-dying.

This is a great outdoor project, but keep away from holiday grills and fire pits. If you do this inside, maker sure you're in a well-ventilated area to avoid a build-up of fumes from the alcohol.

Have a fun and safe holiday!

Note the boys and I made that video three summers ago; I can't believe how young they look and sound!

Like The Maker Mom on Facebook.

Edited 7/5/12 to add this crazy photo which Google reminded me I took years ago.

How to Sharpie tie-dye

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Girl Earns Hacker Badge

I mentioned that I had the pleasure of meeting Make Magazine founder Dale Dougherty last weekend. On his blog, Dale noted that a 10-year-old  girl had earned a Hacker badge, and I had to check it out. I'm equally compelled to share this gem about the girl and her Arduino project.



I'm not sure if the Hacker badge is an official one, but the Girl Scouts do have a DIY badge program.

Back in the day, my troop leaders and a parent volunteer created an AV badge our troop earned for completing a special project. It was a narrated slide show. Like with real slides. (I'm old.) We learned scripting, storyboarding, photography, and narration. I think some girls from the troop got to show it on a local kid-friendly TV show. I might have been one of those girls, but it was pre-VCR (I told you I was old), so I don't have any technology to back up my fading memories. Maybe my mom can dig up a daggeurotype from our special day. Heh heh.

Never mind. 

Call me Emily Litella, I thought the girl's badge was from GS, but it's through AdaFruit's Hacker Scout Program. I hope there's not an age limit; I want to earn me some badges.

Click to read the dad's in-depth project description including the Arduino code.

What was the coolest girl scout badge you earned? Want to earn Hacker Scout badges with me?


Keep in touch! Like The Maker Mom on Facebook.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Things I learned at Chicago's Pumping Station: One


pumping station one makerspace chicago
A week ago I hadn't even heard of Pumping Station: One, Chicago's north side hackerspace. Now I've been there twice.

My second visit was a somewhat spontaneous one, late last Friday night. I wasn't sure exactly what would transpire and I felt like a fish out of water, but that was okay. I figured I'd meet interesting people and learn new things.

Check and check.

I wound up hanging with a group of mostly 20-something, mostly guys at midnight. You know, just a typical night out for me. And I got to meet Dale Dougherty, Publisher of Make Magazine.

And I learned:

Chicago is home to America's oldest brewing school, the 140-year-old Siebel Institute of Technology.

Also, there's a growing north side hipster fanbase for "nerd burlesque." What?! No, really, it's a thing: strip shows themed on Star Trek, Mario, Dr. Who and such. (And it's coming to Skokie?!)

Of course, I learned about maker stuff, too.

As with many of these types of spaces, Pumping Station: One (PS 1) is a "do-ocracy". That is, you realize something needs to be done and you do it. It reminds me of the co-op I lived in my last semester of college- a surprising mix of people working together for the common good. Everyone gets along (mostly) and it's all peachy until someone cracks under the pressure of a dissertation deadline and shows up at a BBQ with a gun.

But, uh, hopefully that last thing won't happen at PS 1 (and by the way, no one was injured at the BBQ).

Along with Dale, we talked about the difference between hackerspaces, (PS 1's office designation), makerspaces (how I think of it) and fab labs.


Fab Labs

I thought fab labs were makerspaces primarily run by gay men. It turns out "fab" does not stand for fabulous (which is honestly what I thought), but fabrication.

MIT developed the fab lab concept, which is more top-down and cookie-cutter than the other types of spaces. By definition, they come with a high price tag. We're talking $25 - $50K of equipment just to get started. But the similarities between fab labs mean they all share basic capabilities. Therefore, something produced in a Chicago lab could be easily replicated by labs across the globe. You could say these fabrication labs are indeed fabulous in their own way.


Hackerspaces

These are typically grass-roots member-supported sites featuring a wide range of tools ranging from a basic band saw up to a CNC machine or laser cutter. PS 1 not only features a few high-tech gems, but also a loom, sewing machine, t-shirt making equipment, a food science kitchen (coming soon) and a functional TARDIS. (Okay, the time travel kinks haven't been worked out, but it has other bells and whistles.)

In my mind, a hackerspace is a makerspace with attitude. Though admittedly, the attitudes at PS 1 have been positive. People are there to make and learn, and hang out a bit.



Makerspace

This term is often used interchangeably with the term hackerspace, but sounds considerably less badass. These are sometimes also called creative spaces. Dale thinks of makerspaces as hackerspaces that skew to a younger audience, so it's fitting that I'm calling our basement (which is still evolving) workshop a makerspace.

I enjoyed a fun, if unusual, night out, and I look forward to my next trip to PS 1. Hopefully, that one will actually involve making something, but, more likely, it will be to pick up flyers I can distribute for the upcoming Mini Maker Faire.


Keep in touch! Like The Maker Mom on Facebook.

Kim MoldofskyKim Moldofsky
Kim is a blogger, vlogger, baker, and maker, as well as a trend spotter and founder of #STEMchat. She is passionate about raising STEM-loving kids. to your Google+ circles.

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