Posts about gifts

MudWatt: Make Power From Mud!

Keegan Cooke and Kevin Rand created MudWatt kits as a way to engage kids/students with science. From the website:

We want to show kids this brighter side of STEM, to empower them to become the great problem solvers of tomorrow. Because let’s face it, there are plenty of problems in the world that need solving.

Unfortunately, our experience in school wasn’t unique. In 2011, less than one-third of 8th graders in the U.S. were deemed proficient in science. Today, 70% of the fastest growing careers are in STEM fields. The supply of STEM education is not meeting the demand.

Most of the world’s mud contain microbes that produce electricity when they eat. That is the engine driving the MudWatt. Colonies of special bacteria (called shewanella and geobacter) generate the electricity in a MudWatt.

The electricity output is proportional to the health and activity of that bacterial colony. By maintaining these colonies in different ways, you can use MudWatt to run all kinds of great experiments. Thus the MudWatt allows kids to engage with science, using their natural curiosity to experiment and learn. Engaging this too-often-neglected human potential will bring joy to those kids (as kids and as grown-ups) and benefit our society.

With standard topsoils, typical power levels are around 100 microWatts, which is enough to power the LED, buzzer, clock, etc..

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Arduino Introduction Video Tutorial

Arduino is a very cool open source programable hardware engineering initiative. It is great for kids and adults who like to learn and create electronic devices. The Arduino Starter Kit is a great education gift for those interested in such things.

The video explains how to build a basic circuit with the Arduino board, and how to use each of the basic components such as LEDs, switches, and resistors. See more videos on related topics. Massimo Banzi, the co-creator and CEO of Arduino, and seen in the videos, also has a book: Getting Started with Arduino.

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Roominate: Inspiring Artists, Engineers and Visionaries

Roominate is a cool new toy created by 3 engineering students aimed at giving young engineers a way to learn, experiment and create. The 3 women used kickstarter to get the funds needed to launch their product. They raised $85,000 (the goal was $25,000).

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.

Founders:

Bettina Chen: CalTech BS in Electrical Engineering, masters in Electrical Engineering from Stanford.

Alice Brooks: MIT BS in Mechanical Engineering, currently at Stanford pursuing masters in Mechanical Engineering design.

Jennifer Kessler: Bachelor degree from University of Pennsylvania, currently an MBA student at Stanford.

This is yet another example of entrepreneurship shown by Standford students. The USA is hugely benefited by Stanford (along with a few other schools: MIT, Caltech, etc.). There is little a country can do that is as helpful economically as encouraging the type of entrepreneurship Standford does.

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Awesome Gifts for the Maker in Your Life

See the full Sylvia’s Super-Awesome MAKE Holiday Gift Guide 2011

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Amazing New Light Field Camera: Adjust Focus After You Take the Picture

The cool Lytro light field camera lets you adjust the focus after the picture is taken. Wow what a surprise the company is located in Mountain View, California. Oh wait, no that isn’t a surprise. Those of us in the USA should thank our lucky stars for having Silicon Valley in our country.

The Lytro will be available in early 2012 starting at $399 (a 8 GB model able to hold up to 350 images) and $499 for a $499 16 GB model able to hold 750 images.

The camera does take 3d images. That feature will be enabled via a software update after the initial release.

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Periodic Table for Kids

Poster of the periodic table with some illustrations and explanations for kids.

Check out this previous post with a New Visualization of the Periodic Table and see the link in the comment to another variation.

Related: Understanding the Chemistry Behind Cooking2009 Nobel Prize in Chemistry

Friday Fun: Audio Engagement Ring

Fun, an engagement ring that plays a 20 second audio clip “Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!…Shelina, I’ll love you forever. Marry Me!” made by artist and inventor Luke Jerram.

100 lbf/in² of pressure was required to cut the silver ring, using a vibrating diamond stylus. The ring is also a homage to Thomas Edison who made the first sound recording machine – the phonograph in 1877.

Using the ring, I proposed to Shelina in a hot air balloon over Bristol in 2005. We’ve since got married and had 2 children Maya and Nico.

Much better than marketing driven expensive diamonds, in my opinion.

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Fiskars Cuts+More 5-in-1 Multi-Purpose Scissors

These are some well engineering scissors with all sorts of handy features. Fiskars makes some great products. High-quality blades provide excellent cutting performance on a wide variety of materials. Large, ergonomically sculpted finger and thumb loops provide excellent comfort and control when cutting.

Additional features include a power notch for cutting light rope, wire cutter, twine cutter, pointed awl tip and bottle opener. You can even take the scissors apart and use the titanium-coated blade as a knife. It’s dishwasher safe and includes an innovative sheath with a built-in tape cutter and a ceramic scissors sharpener to keep the blades performing at their best. Ergonomically sculpted handles provide comfortable use and cutting control. Power notch cuts light rope. Wire cutter makes cutting wire without damaging the blades quick and easy.

A pointed awl tip is perfect for piercing small holes in cardboard, leather and more. Bottle opener makes it easy to open bottles. Take-apart design offers a titanium-coated knife that is three times harder than steel for general cutting needs. Dishwasher safe for easy cleaning. The sheath protects blades, sharpens scissors and includes a tape cutter for opening boxes.

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Droid Incredible

image of Droid Incredible cell phone

The Droid Incredible really is a great gadget. I am too cheap to get it but if I were to use a cell phone much I think this is the one I would get. I personally prefer more open software like Android (which the Droid Incredible uses) to Apple (though Apple’s user experience is great, I admit).

The Droid Incredible by HTC features a body design that measures 4.63 x 2.3 x 0.47 inches (HxWxD), making it easy to slip into your pocket. A large, 3.7-inch HD screen with 480×800 resolution graces the front of the device. The responsive OLED touch screen features rich colors and is easy to use.

With a 1 GHz Snapdragon processor, 512 MB of RAM, and 8 GB of internal flash memory, the Droid Incredible delivers incredible performance, letting you run multiple applications. It includes an 8-megapixel camera with auto focus and 2x power LED flash, and also Google Maps Navigation, which provides GPS-based turn-by-turn voice guidance to get you where you need to go.

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Zubbles – Get Your Colored Bubbles

photo of blue bubblephoto of blue colored bubble.

I first posted on this in 2005: Colored Bubbles. Now you can order your own via Zubbles. Colored Bubbles Have Landed (and Popped and Vanished)

Having solved the colored bubble dilemma, we spent most of 2006 trying to refine our dyes and the manufacturing process. We had invented several completely new dyes and a few derivatives of existing dyes. But the manufacturing process was long, tedious and expensive. It took three days just to make a few grams of each dye. It quickly became apparent that we needed to radically streamline the production process in order to have a viable product.

The complexities of the chemistry resembled a pharmaceutical more than a toy. So I enlisted the help of Gary Willingham, and the Belgium development team, at Fisher Scientific. Fisher is a pharmaceutical chemical manufacturer with the equipment and expertise needed to manufacture tons of our dyes.

Due to the complexities of the chemistry, Jamm decided to stay close to the production process and manufacture Zubbles in the US. The first bottles rolled off the line this week. Jamm presented me with the very first case of Zubbles. And it was a very strange feeling to finally hold the product in my hand—15 years after I mixed my first batch of dishwashing detergent and food coloring.

Being an entrepreneur is a challenge any time. When your product requires complex science and engineering that adds additional challenges. It is great to see this product is now available.

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Here Comes Science by They Might Be Giants

They Might Be Giants creates great music and has moved into creating music aimed at kids, of any age, over the last few years. They are releasing a new Album and animated DVD Here Comes Science, is being released tomorrow. Their music is both enjoyable to listen to and educational, something that is often attempted but rarely done as successfully as they do.

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The release include the following songs and videos:

1. Science Is Real
2. Meet the Elements
3. I Am a Paleontologist w/Danny Weinkauf
4. The Bloodmobile
5. Electric Car w/Robin Goldwasser
6. My Brother the Ape
7. What Is a Shooting Star?
8. How Many Planets?
9. Why Does the Sun Shine?
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