children · learning · play · school · technology

This Throwable Computer Teaches Kids How To Code | Co.Design

Learning is fun. Or at least it should be fun. Little kids are always exploring, experimenting, asking “why, why, where, when, why?!” (can you tell I have a toddler at home?). This is a great example of trying to keep learning fun.

This Throwable Computer Teaches Kids How To Code | Co.Design | business + design

Coding is a great skill for kids to learn but it can be a lonely, sedentary endeavor. Hackaball, a new toy created from a partnership between the design agencies MAP and Made By Many, promises to get kids off their butts and playing outside—all while teaching basic coding skills and empowering kids to invent their own kind of play.

It’s a lot to ask from one product which is why Hackaball had to be meticulously designed. The ball is bigger than a baseball but smaller than a soccer ball, and it comes with several simple parts that can be put together using basic instructions, so kids understand what’s inside, and get the chance to start creating from the get-go. Once it’s put together, the toy can glow different colors, make noises, and even vibrate. As for how to use it? The kids get to decide.

Using a space-themed app, kids write if-then rules, learning the syntax of basic coding. An example: if you drop a ball, then it turns red. Or if the ball hits something, then it will make a noise. These games can be as complicated or as simple as kids want.

read more at This Throwable Computer Teaches Kids How To Code | Co.Design | business + design.

The Hackaball is currently seeking funding on Kickstarter, where you can pre-order one for $69.

community · creativity · culture · play · Social

Play-Based KickStarter: Denver’s Immersive Street Arcade by OhHeckYeah

A long exposure photograph (2.5 seconds) of th...
Taking the arcade experience outdoors. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Coming soon(ish) to a street near you (if you live in Colorado):

OHY will transform a Downtown Denver street into an interactive arcade using LED screens, projections, custom games and street art.

BRINGING PLAY BACK TO THE STREET: Get ready! This summer – June & July, 2014 – Champa Street in Denver, from 14th Street to the 16th Street Mall, will be transformed into a street arcade like you’ve never seen. This isn’t your father’s old-school arcade. Powered through a combination of the Denver Theatre District’s LED screens, building projections, street art, social media and a website, this immersive arcade is going to be a gaming experience for all!

ON THE WEB: The public will be able to interact with video game characters through personalized Twitter profiles powered by local improv comedians from Bovine Metropolis.

ON THE STREET: Once you’re on Champa Street, you’ll feel it – the pulse of the arcade bringing downtown to life. To play at the arcade is to be immersed in each game. The entire two city blocks will be full of street art and custom structures that will transport players to a modern game world. The enormity and excitement is going to blow people away.

GAMES: Built by the Denver-based, award-winning creative team of Legwork Studio and Mode Set, the games will allow players to use a smart phone and their body as controllers while playing on the huge Denver Theater District LED screens, as well as projections on buildings. Microsoft Kinect devices will be utilized so participants feel like they’ve jumped right into the video games.

more via OhHeckYeah: Denver’s Immersive Street Arcade by Brian Corrigan — Kickstarter.

This sounds like a really great way to get people playing together in public spaces.

(Word to the wise, if you have a play-based Kickstarter event, toy, program, or other play-related thing you are trying to get attention for, let me know about it as it is pretty much guaranteed to get some blog time.)

community · creativity · environment · play · Social

99 Tiny Games Project in London Brings Play to the Streeets

Sometimes we just need a little spark to get us to play.

In 2012, Hide&Seek installed 99 tiny games around London:

Tiny Games began life at the Southbank Centre in 2011 and are a collection of very small, very quick-to-understand games. They sit in the real world, inviting participation from any interested passer-by. Their rules can be summarised in just a couple of sentences.

In the spirit of the “big” games in London this summer, Hide & Seek created 99 wee-tiny games and stuck them all over the city, transforming buildings, sidewalks, tube stations and more into impromptu game sites. The rules are all quick and simple and each game takes almost no time to play – anyone can play, anytime they want. Players will be tested on everything from wits to creativity to cooperation to determination, all within immediate reach of their home, workplace, or favorite pub.

It’s great to watch the Olympians do what they do best and admire their near-superhuman abilities, but it’s also important to bring this spirit of competition and fun to non-superhumans like us. We bet that if everyone stopped to play even for just a few minutes everyday the world would undoubtedly be a better place. 99 Tiny Games serves as a reminder to everyone to always be playful, no matter where you are.

In the past year, the team has since created a Kickstarter to try and get an app built so you can find fun games wherever you go. Hooray for using technology to create playful spaces wherever you are! Unfortunately it only looks like it’s available in the UK market, but it’s great inspiration to look for play wherever you go.

community · creativity · design · education · Social

Public Art Project That Shares, Teaches Art

Another great story about public artwork and interactive public space. This time courtesy of Design*Sponge:

Mike Perry (who was part of Design by the Book four years ago) is launching a new project via Kickstarter called Wondering Around Wandering. It’s a three-month FREE community exhibition and event space where Mike will teach workshops and host screenings, discussions and more. The space will welcome artists and art appreciators alike and, because of the time span, would be a great way for visiting artists and design enthusiasts to learn and experience on a more intimate level.

Holiday Zine, one example of what you’d get as part of your support via Kickstarter

See the original story at Wondering About Wandering | Design*Sponge

Find out more at Wondering About Wandering | Kickstarter

anthropology · behavior · community · creativity · environment · health

Making money off the land

A swaledale ewe on the rolling fells of the La...
You may be looking at a model of your next lawnmower. Image via Wikipedia

After the last post about dumpster diving, I thought we could focus on something a little more fresh, like growing your own food. Or your own sheep.

From renting out goats and sheep in order to naturally trim lawns and hillsides, to teaching other people how to raise chickens and bees, “urban homesteading” is becoming a way of life that is not only natural and makes people feel good, it’s also profitable.

As an uncertain economy and a stagnant hiring climate continue to freeze people out of the traditional job market, a number of entrepreneurs like Mr. Miller, many of them in their 20s and 30s, are heading back to the land, starting small agricultural businesses. And in the process, they are discovering that modern homesteading offers more rewarding work, and possibly more security, than entering the white-collar fray.

Mr. Miller, who supplements his income by working on a local farm, has resisted raising his prices because he wants his services to be available to all. And while Heritage Lawn Mowing is not yet in the black, he says he has found a better way of life.

“It’s a gateway to that whole rural dream,” he said. “And with the type of recession we’re having, there’s stability in it.”

Other yeoman start-ups are charting a more traditional path to profits.

Carrie Ferrence, 33, and Jacqueline Gjurgevich, 32, were in business school at Bainbridge Graduate Institute in Washington State when they noticed that many local neighborhoods were “food deserts,” without easy access to fresh local produce and other grocery staples.

Their answer was StockBox Grocers, a company that repurposes old shipping containers as small grocery stores. The company won $12,500 in a local business plan competition and raised more than $20,000 online in a Kickstarter campaign to finance its first store, which opened in the Delridge neighborhood of Seattle in September.

“It’s a tough job market, and you have really few instances in your life to do something that you really love,” Ms. Ferrence said. “It’s not that this is the alternative. It’s the new plan A.”

Read more: Sheep Lawn Mowers, and Other Go-Getters (New York Times)

What is it that is so appealing to this (my) generation about growing gardens, knitting, and owning a sheep-rental mowing company? Why are we so drawn to this idea of keeping bees, growing our own vegetables, and sewing our own clothes? I have some ideas, but I’d be curious to hear yours in the comments below.