Friday, June 22, 2012

Why Women Still Can’t Have It All - The Atlantic


It’s time to stop fooling ourselves, says a woman who left a position of power: the women who have managed to be both mothers and top professionals are superhuman, rich, or self-employed. If we truly believe in equal opportunity for all women, here’s what has to change.

This article by Anne-Marie Slaughter tells it like it is.

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Flipped Classroom: The Full Picture for Higher Education « User Generated Education


In its simplest terms, the flipped classroom is about viewing and/or listening to lectures at home during one own time which frees up face-to-face class time for experiential exercises, group discussion, and question and answer sessions.

It’s called “the flipped classroom.” While there is no one model, the core idea is to flip the common instructional approach. With teacher-created videos and interactive lessons, instruction that used to occur in class is now accessed at home, in advance of class. Class becomes the place to work through problems, advance concepts, and engage in collaborative learning. Most importantly, all aspects of instruction can be rethought to best maximize the scarcest learning resource—time. Flipped classroom teachers almost universally agree that it’s not the instructional videos on their own, but how they are integrated into an overall approach, that makes the difference (The Flipped Classroom by Bill Tucker).

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SciFi, Design and Technology | The Robot State

Make It So: What Interaction Designers can Learn from Science
Fiction Interfaces
Presentation Notes, Nathan Shedroff and Chris Noessel
4 September 2009, dConstruct 09 Conference, Brighton, UK

(also SXSW 2012?)


This is the first presentation of only a portion of the material we’ve found in our analysis of Science Fiction films and television series. Weʼre also looking a industry future films (like Apple’s Knowledge Navigator) as well as existing products and research projects. Our analysis includes properties (films and TV), themes (different issues in interface design), as well as the historical context of the work (such as the current technology of the time of the propertyʼs release). In addition, weʼre interviewing developers (including production designers from  films) but this material isnʼt presented in this talk. For this presentation, weʼve focused on the major issues, part academic and theoretical, and part lessons (more practical) weʼve uncovered.

How design influences SciFi and how SciFi influences design:

We’ve chosen to focus on interface and interaction design (and not technology or engineering). Some visual design issues relate but, mostly, in this talk, weʼre not approaching issues of styling. Weʼve chosen the media of SciFi (TV and films) because a thorough analysis of interaction design in SciFi requires that the example be visual so interfaces are completely and concretely represented, include motion that describe the interaction, and (sometimes) has been seen by a wide audience.

Scientifically determining “influence” in any context (whether from Design on SciFi or visa versa) is difficult, and much of what we illustrate is inference on the part of the authors.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Printrbot Rookie Mistakes part 1

I love Brooke Drum's awesome 3D printer (was on Kickstarter - now at I wish I had more time each week to work on assembling it, but I do keep hitting little speed bumps along the way.


Here's all the stupid things I'm doing wrong following the printrbot videos and also the occasional changes to the bill of materials and instructions that are tripping me up. Maybe this will be useful to someone else who is assembling an original printrbot (not the PLUS or the LC/lasercut version)


1. Don't get those rods perfectly parallel before you work out (using the base plate) just how far apart they need to be. You'll have about 1 1/2" of threaded rods sticking out of one side.

2. Don't screw your motors in before you flat them. Flatting involves taping off the motor, carefully putting it in a vice and filing one side of the shaft flat. Brooke explains it in one of the later videos.


3. Don't freak out when it calls for three 16mm black screws in this step and you only have one left because you used two on the bearing guide. He's changed them to 8mm in the video.


4. I'm really not sure what to do about these yet. The video shows a different construction.

Open question: What to do with the new style 5mm to 8mm flexible shaft coupling? And whether or not you need to flat these motors?


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Thursday, June 7, 2012

R.I.P. Ray Bradbury, Author of Fahrenheit 451 and The Martian Chronicles


Ray Bradbury — author of The Martian Chronicles, Fahrenheit 451, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and many more literary classics — died this morning in Los Angeles, at the age of 91.

We've got confirmation from the family as well as his biographer, Sam Weller.

His grandson, Danny Karapetian, shared these words with io9 about his grandfather's passing: "If I had to make any statement, it would be how much I love and miss him, and I look forward to hearing everyone's memories about him. He influenced so many artists, writers, teachers, scientists, and it's always really touching and comforting to hear their stories. Your stories. His legacy lives on in his monumental body of books, film, television and theater, but more importantly, in the minds and hearts of anyone who read him, because to read him was to know him. He was the biggest kid I know."

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Wednesday, June 6, 2012

happy robot birthday!

What's better than getting this hula dancing robot girl for my birthday?

This fantastic mashup of me and Robopocalypse (which is going to be an interesting film!)!


And the fun impromptu party that followed of course!

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Friday, June 1, 2012

Roominate: Make It Yours! by Maykah Inc. — Kickstarter

We believe that early exposure to STEM through toys will inspire change.


Roominate is a different kind of toy. It is our first step in inspiring the next generation of female technology innovators.

Roominate is a stackable, attachable & customizable miniature room with working circuits that you build yourself.

Our Idea 

We are three women who majored in engineering, math, and science. Throughout our education and at work, we were all far outnumbered by men. We realized that our own experiences in childhood were integral in attracting us to math and science as adults.

  • Alice grew up playing in a robotics lab and her father gave her a saw when she asked for a Barbie.
  • Bettina built hundreds of Lego creations with her older brother and hence gave no thought to any gender differences in toys growing up.
  • Jennifer loved solving math riddles with her dad, and one of her earliest childhood memories is of her grandfather teaching her how to do long division in her head. 

Based on the belief that childhood exposure can facilitate excitement, familiarity, and confidence between young girls and STEM, we came together to design Roominate. 

Roominate is a kit of wooden building pieces and circuit components with which a child can use her creativity to design, build, wire, and decorate her own unique interactive room. 

AND, the rooms are attachable and stackable, enabling girls to build and design expandable structures. The pieces are made to be simple and intuitive so as to allow a girl to explore and discover on her own.

Developing Roominate

Over the past few months, we've worked with over 200 girls in our target age range to reach our final prototype for Roominate. Young girls have experimented with our toys at local events and at the Children's Creativity Museum in San Francisco. They have tested our toys individually, in small groups and in large groups, both with and without adult guidance. 

We’ve learned a lot about the way that girls play and have been performing rapid product iteration based on feedback and observation. We have seen that designing a compelling experience is important for getting them to try new things - like circuits! That experience includes both the physical pieces and the imagination girls use when deciding what to build and create.  

Using only rudimentary prototypes, we have seen Roominate’s pieces spark remarkable creativity and excitement in young girls.

  • Provide a girl with a buzzer and a motor, and she’s decided her room is a restaurant, with the motor serving as a fan to cool patrons and the buzzer being used by the chef when an order is ready.
  • Provide a girl with a set of animal stickers, and her room becomes a pet shop, complete with dog beds and animal food bowls.

Constructing, creating, connecting, and designing integrate together to make Roominate a blast!

  • Constructing the rooms and furniture gives girls control over the customization of their creation while exposing them to hands-on building and spatial skills.
  • Connecting the circuits brings the rooms to life; a fan or a light can instantly make a room interactive. Most young girls have never made a circuit, but they love the intuitive experience our color-coded circuits provide.
  • Designing the room ties the experience back to common play patterns that we know girls love!

Young girls have loved the product and are anxiously awaiting the opportunity to own their own kits. 

Roominate Reel

We’re more than just a toy company. We want to inspire your daughters to be the great artists, engineers, architects, and visionaries of their generation. We intend to give them every tool to reach that potential.

We have discovered that storytelling increases engagement. With Roominate Reel, a series of mini-movies, we will set the scene for Roominate.

  • We will tell the story of Roominate -- to get girls excited about the world they are about to jump into.
  • We will engage girls with lessons applicable to Roominate -- to enhance the educational value of the toy.
  • We will provide prompts and challenges -- to keep girls coming back to Roominate. Our prompts will stimulate girls' problem solving and creativity skills, while also ensuring that Roominate stays compelling, entertaining, and illuminating.

Roominate Reel will help girls experience the joy of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math!

Join Us!

We want to introduce Roominate to the rest of the world, but producing the kits by hand is unsustainable.

That's where you come in! 

We need your support to help us scale up our production through large quantity orders on wood, electronics, and assembly costs. Also, since Roominate is designed to be played with by children under the age of 14, Kickstarter will enable us to fulfill the tests needed to certify compliance to toy safety standards.


What do the Rewards Include?

We are continuing to perfect Roominate. Thus, the Roominate you receive is going to be even more refined than the one seen in the pictures and video. 

  • One Roominate Kit includes: 2 wooden walls, 1 wooden floor, interchangeable wooden building pieces to construct at least 3 pieces of furniture, 1 complete circuit, and assorted decorations to get you started.
  • A Deluxe Decoration Pack includes: tons of additional decorations so that you can adorn your creation over and over again!

Bringing Roominate To You

Here are the details of our plan to bring Roominate to you:

  • Upon successful completion of our Kickstarter, we will be able to refine our prototype, test its safety and usability, and begin production within a few weeks.  
  • We will continue to do all of the designing, prototyping, and usability testing ourselves.
  • Upon refinement of our prototype, our wood will be laser cut through contract shops in the Midwestern United States or in the Bay Area. The final contractor will be selected based on our ultimate production quantities. Shipping, treating, and cutting the wood will take approximately ten weeks (treating the wood ensures that it passes toy safety standards).
  • Our electronic components are all off-the-shelf. All of the parts we will be using are UL certified, and we will also be conforming to additional toy safety standards. Our assembly specifications with contract manufacturers include in-house reliability and safety testing. The assembly will be done locally. Lead time, set-up, product testing, and assembly will take approximately eight weeks.
  • Before we start producing, we will ensure that our scaled-up version of Roominate is as safe, engaging, and exciting as our prototype.
  • Packing and shipping will be contracted locally. This process will take two weeks.
  • The price includes the cost of our final prototyping, manufacturing, testing, assembly, packaging, and shipping (in the United States).

Join us in creating a brighter future for girls! 

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Pioneering Book on the Rise of Women-owned Businesses