It takes about the same amount of time to drink a glass of lemonade that comes from the store as it does to drink glass of lemonade that comes from a tiny hand sitting behind a fold-out card table prominently displayed at the entrance of the neighborhood.
One is automated down to perfection and costs about two dollars for a two liter at the store. The other required a tiny human to crush lemons, add sugar, and water and hopefully nothing else in the exact right proportion that they probably didn’t think to measure out. And its more expensive! Why buy it?
We say – buy it, because it supports a culture of hustle and experimentation in kids these days. So they don’t forget that things can be made from scratch, that they can figure things out and they can try, fail and get better at something.
In honor of childhood for those of you who grew up in the intermediate days of internet use – I re-introduce your favorite game that probably taught you something useful.
I recently talked with some friends and co-workers about things we wished we had done in school. Most people started with:
“I wish I stuck with…”
Meaning so many people found something that made them happy and yet decided to quit for some reason. Thats incredibly encouraging and saddening at the same time.
Like anything – its a measure of confidence in putting yourself out there. I wrote a “Letter to Passion” for a personal blog of mine which is short, but makes me very proud.
Also, if you haven’t yet, give Freakonomics podcast a shot. The rogue economist Steve Levitt often professes to have widely experimented to find something that he liked. Their latest piece about embracing failure stands as a true testament to taking risks and trying something extraordinary.
There is tremendous opportunity for new ventures to create an educational experience outside of the classroom. Speaking as someone who once worked as a computer salesman selling directly to schools, I fully understand why. It is really difficult to line up business deals with schools because for one –
– their budgets are always hurting
and for two –
– a child’s classroom learning environment should be free from commercial distractions.
For this, I must applaud Bing in the Classroom for creating an ad-free search engine for use in schools. This isn’t a plug, but you can further support Bing’s efforts by donating your Bing rewards points (which you get from searching on their normal search engine service) towards giving schools free Surface tablets.
To get back on the track of educational start-ups outside of the schoolhouse, check out Marketplace’s (NPR’s business program) graphic below. Each of the bubbles represents a funding deal. Some of those are quite big bubbles. Click on the picture below to link to what we found to be a fun half hour of educational tech start-up discovery. It’s exciting to see all the new and different approaches.
Last weekend Patrick and I (Reid that is) started looking at some really innovative after school programs and were astonished at how many community and education centric organizations there were in the Puget Sound Region alone.
Tomorrow (May 6th) The Seattle Foundation is running their “GiveBig” campaign. If ever there was a time to give and really try to stretch your dollar – tomorrow is that time.
There are over 1,600 organizations to give to that are eligible for The Seattle Foundation’s “Stretch Fund” and throughout the day they are raffling off extra $1,000 donations to lucky donors.
We don’t want to influence anybody, but we’re really impressed with these causes –
EdLab – Programs focused on increasing equity in the sciences through collaborations, role models and after school programs
Camp Korey – Serves as a camp and a retreat for kids 4-17 who have serious medical conditions. (I volunteer here – they are amazing)
Whatever your cup of tea as a donor may be (arts, environment, homelessness, education, bicycle advocacy, etc.) tomorrow is a great day to stretch your dollar and make a positive impact on the Puget Sound community. At least try to match your Cinco de Mayo expenses.
Reid & I have been grinding through a build of togetherbear so that we can document the creation of the project & provide a Togetherbear recipe.
I would love for this to be easy and straight forward, but part of our pain is that the first build was figured out on the fly with my 4 year old. I learned a lot during the build. There are several things I’d like to make better for the final project. It’s made me think a lot about the nature of the project & our philosophy.
Togetherbear is a way to start a hobby in electronics & Arduino. We could build the overall project cheaply with simplified chipsets & prebuilt components. But I think the value in the project is learning how to build an electronics project with real world parts. Kids in highschool robotics competitions are using Arduinos- not dedicate voice chipsets. We’re a springboard, not a destination. There’s a whole lot of fun to be had after you start with a talking bear.
So we’ve been looking at ways to make sure you can reuse the Arduino at the core of the project. This means that instead of soldering connections directly together, we’re relying on male/female jumper wires, break-away male headers and female headers. You’ll still get to solder, but you also have the ability to easily take things apart and reuse components later. It also means that there’s a different approach to the design of the final build- which ultimately results in a delay in documentation.
I’ve been asking myself which I value more- getting started or getting finished. The nature of this project is that we want to make sure your first experience with electronics is pleasurable. We want to help make it easy to start and inspire you to keep going. We would like to have the whole wiki up and running for you to start the project, but we also want to make sure you keep going after the project is finished.
Please ‘bear’ with us. Lots of exciting stuff coming soon!
An amazing arduino sale from sparkfun. It is saturday only. If you have been thinking about picking up an arduino, get one tomorrow! You won’t find a better price. If you don’t know where to start- grab the UNO SMD.