Technology is awesome, just sayin’. As I explained in my post “Video Games are Edumacational,” I fundamentally believe that video games can be a wonderful educational tool for children. Beyond that, merely interacting with technology actually gives children a leg-up in our tech heavy environment. With schools utilizing iPads, Smart Screens, and computers on a regular basis, those children who have interacted with technology at home on a regular basis have a distinct advantage over those who have not. Having said all this, there is something equally crucial about putting down the tablet and picking up a game of Pick-Up Sticks.[Read more…]
(That’s probably because you rolled up Sexy Halloween Stories!)
A couple of weeks ago, we looked at Halloween costumes. I just can’t get enough Halloween stuff, though, so this week, we’re going to take a sweet, spicy, terrifying, and hilarious tour through some Sexy Halloween Stories. It turns out Sexy Halloween Stuff is not just reserved for costumes!
LaShawn Wanak’s House on the Rock Halloween Adventure: Okay, so I put out a call for recommendations of awesome (or terrible!) Sexy Halloween Stories, and while I meant fiction, I didn’t actually say it, so one of my responses was a real life event of geektacular AWESOMENESS! LaShawn has a fabulous, two part [Read more…]
This week’s Feed the Machine will be a little different. Before I go on, here is the link to the article in question:
It’s a short article, more a review than a science article really, but it got me thinking, and I want it to get you thinking.
Why would one of the most respected scientists of the 21st century knowingly make such a blunder? Beyond this, what if, on an alternate earth, there was a scientist who was so respected, so smart, so right about everything, that her discoveries weren’t examined? In fact, they were taken as LAW the moment she set them down to paper? What if the world conformed to her laws, even when they were wrong? What if it didn’t? What if someone called her on it? Imagine a [Read more…]
(That’s probably because you rolled up nothing but interesting crowdsourced projects and fundraisers!)
Crowdfunding and fundraising are two awesome things that I think the internet does really well. This week, I’m sharing some things I’ve supported lately.
Kaleidoscope: Okay, so yes, I am starting with my own project! Kaleidoscope is an anthology of diverse contemporary YA fantasy stories that I am co-editing with Alisa Krasnostein of Twelfth Planet Press. We’re putting together an awesome collection of stories with teen protagonists by authors such as Ken Liu, [Read more…]
(That’s probably because you rolled up nothing but costumes!)
Greetings, fellow costume aficionados! October is here, and that means we have one more excuse to examine many many costumes! Other good excuses are Mardi Gras, DragonCon, Comic-Con, and pretty much any time we can convince large swathes of people to play dress-up. Because, really now, playing dress-up is fun!
Halloween can yield awesomeness, but it is also amateur night for costume-wearers. So let’s start with the most depressing stuff and then move up to the most awesome. Yes? Yes! [Read more…]
Recommended Reads is a monthly feature in which the Skiffy and Fanty crew tell you about one thing they recently read that they think you might like too.
Here goes: [Read more…]
One big benefit of opening a toy store is that when my kids arrive there after school, we are all stuck in the same space together and for the first time in YEARS, I get to help them with their homework! “Years?! What a horrible mother! You should have been supervising them THIS WHOLE TIME!” Yah, yah. Bite me. My kids have been better at their schoolwork than I am since 3rd grade. I gave up a while ago. However, they just started Algebra when they hit 7th grade, so we all get to puzzle it out together. This is both nice and frakking awful. Though I have internalized the mantra, “All are capable of math. There is no such thing as a ‘a math person,’ there are only those who give it a chance and those who do not,” I still struggle with some of the simpler concepts. However, now that I’m older, I do find that I can *enjoy* the struggle. Somehow, probably completely by accident, both of my daughters also seem to enjoy math and both recognize that it can be useful in their chosen “hobbies”.
MoMo (#1) is an artist. She works on paper, but is already better at digital production and reproduction of artwork than I will ever be. I have the benefit of a (slim) digital media background and have been able to give her the tools and basic education she needs to learn how to create digital masterpieces. It is a joy to watch her grow in her love of the medium. Whether she was inspired by comic books, video games, cartoons, or what, I have no idea. However, she obsessively watches YouTube videos of people drawing random things (seriously, HOURS) and is exploring the realms of Manga and Anime.
Granted, we raised her up right by forcing her to watch Studio Ghibli films on an endless loop – Clockwork Orange style.
Messy Jessy #2 is a scientist/engineer/punky brewster. Her favorite toys from about age 3+ were Magnetix. Basically, if it let her build something, she could spend hours building random shit. From simple octagons, to massive buildings with parapets and flying buttresses. Her passion is construction, so every time we found a science kit that allowed her to explore this avenue, we did so. The cavern under her bed is a treasure trove of robotics. She is the proud owner of a soldering gun and a java programming manual (seriously, would someone *please* write a java programming instructional book for kids? I’m disturbed by the lack of them).
Anyway, this past summer we were lucky enough to be able to encourage our daughters passions even further. Parents should be the first line of inspiration into math and science careers, with public schools following closely on their heels. However, it is exceedingly important that the surrounding community also offer programs that support these career paths. This not only benefits a child’s education, but it also benefits the county and city coffers. Tech businesses don’t stay in California’s Silicon Valley due to the cheap rent, they stay due to the sustainable brain capital. It’s practically splitting at the seams with generation after generation of IT workers – the 60+ year olds who founded the industries, the 40+s who turned them into powerhouses, the 20+s who spawned a new generation of web-based technologies, and the 5+s who are sitting at home on their parents I-pads, exploring technology in ways that my generation only saw in Science Fiction TV. The communities that want to capitalize on the new creative economy of the US are the ones that will institute programs that create these budding technologists.
My daughters were participating in one such program. It was a partnership between a local youth based educational initiative and a Community College in the town where my parents live. For the cost of a Youth Recreational Summer Camp, they attended what were, essentially, college classes for a week. The one week program included more classes than I can even remember and gave children the freedom to explore numerous future careers and hobbies.
MoMo took a class on digital art, which included instruction in Corel Painter and Adobe Photoshop. She learned how to interact with a drawing tablet, manipulate existing images, and create original artwork. Though the teacher left something to be desired in the personality department, the class gave her the information she needed to take her art to the next level. She now wants to figure out how to animate her work and I suspect she’ll begin designing Flash games sooner rather than later.
Messy Jessy spent a week learning about different types of Engineering. With WOMEN! This was such a crucial experience for her, as it is for most young girls. Women still only account for a minimum proportion of STEM jobs, though the number of women receiving degrees in STEM fields has increased. It is difficult to say what societal pressure causes girls to not pursue math and science, but the pressure is there and so a great effort must be made to overcome it. Jess’s “Women in Engineering” course introduced the all-female class to a new field of Engineering every day of the week, hosted by a woman in each specific subset. They did projects in fields that ranged from Bio-Medical Engineering to Environmental Engineering, Electrical and Aeronautic. They touched a human heart while exploring artificial heart valves and MacGuyvered a set of Earphones. Basically, it was just frakking amazing.
Will either of my daughters choose a career that is related to the respective courses they took this summer? I have no idea. Nor do I care. As a parent, I must encourage them to follow their passions, but when they are no longer passions, I must allow them to choose another. Honestly, if there is only one thing that I learned from Science Fiction and Fantasy, it’s that choosing your own path in life is the key to happiness. However, for now, I’ll keep throwing the geek their way in the hopes that some of it sticks.
This week’s article is a doozy. It has everything a science fiction fan could want — branes, four dimensional stars, black holes, hyperspheres — and it is all completely true.
That’s a bit misleading. Mathematically, the theory is plausible. There are still a few kinks and refinements, but it does posit some interesting possibilities for the origin of our universe.
Now let’s get down to making that Purina Machine Chow. [Read more…]
(That’s probably because you rolled up nothing but magical cleaning techniques.)
I know that common wisdom says spring is the season for cleaning, but for me this autumn is setting off my cleaning impulse. The last week has seen me taking every spare moment to do things that are usually completely out of character, like taking a damp cloth to the miniblinds. It’s quite lovely to fall asleep secure in the knowledge that all the crevices under and around the bed have been swept, dusted, and heartily scrubbed, but at the same time, the more I clean, the more it feels like the house will never ever actually be free of dust.
For some people, like maybe Martha Stewart, or Tony Stark, I bet this leads to inventing newer, scarier, more efficient cleaning tools and methods. Alas, I am not a ginormously wealthy businessperson, so it just makes me daydream about all the ways I could clean if only I had access to magic. Seriously, have you ever stopped to think about all the magical ways to clean things? Here are a few: [Read more…]
Recently, I realized that I am no longer relevant. This was not something that I thought would happen to me at the tender age of 35, but I don’t really get a say in the matter. It is also possible that I wouldn’t have realized this for another decade had I not had children at a very young age. Or perhaps if I were less liberal with my computer usage policies in our home. Regardless, the epiphany occurred, and it was mind blowing.
A little background data for those of you who haven’t listened to The Skiffy and Fanty Show podcast – I am the occasionally proud, more commonly flabbergasted, parent of two girls. My daughters are 11 and 12 years of age, and they are both in 7th grade at a local public Junior High School. You’ll learn more about that at some point in these “Adventures in SF Parenting” posts. Suffice it to say, if you bothered to do the math, I had my kids when I was fairly young. I was 22 when my older daughter, Mo, was born, my husband was only 18. That probably gave us an entirely different viewpoint on parenting than [Read more…]