Pokémon Go Adds a New Layer to Public Spaces

Another great take on the Pokemon Go phenomenon and how it is encouraging people to explore public spaces.

The Dirt

Pershing-Park-map-resized Pershing Square Park as depicted in Pokemon Go

According to the National Academy of Sciences, “nature-based recreation” has decreased 25 percent in the last 40 years. Is Pokémon Go — the explosively popular game app released worldwide this month — a way to get people off their sofas and into parks and other public spaces?

My answer — after a couple of days happily playing the game — is a qualified “yes.” I recently played in two places — the town square in downtown Rockville, Maryland, and Pershing Square Park in Washington, D.C. — and had two different, yet intriguing experiences.

Pokémon Go, which may be downloaded on iOS and Android devices, is a free, location-based augmented reality game in which players capture adorable-looking creatures called Pokémon. The game is played not from a comfy sofa, but out in the real world.

The app provides a map of the player’s…

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“Pokémon Go” Is Quietly Helping People Fall In Love With Their Cities

I have been fascinated with the incredible popularity of Pokemon Go. Some people are seeing it as an “annoying” new game, but I see it as an amazingly powerful tool to trick people into exercising and getting outside, and as author Mark Wilson observes, discovering your city.

In our collective hunt for silly cartoon monsters, Pokémon Go players are discovering history and architecture left and right. Users described their discoveries over the weekend, from Korean pagodas, to a Donner Party memorial in California, to the urban landscape of Perth at night, all documented on Twitter.

Read the full article at: “Pokémon Go” Is Quietly Helping People Fall In Love With Their Cities | Co.Design | business + design


Beyond BB-8: How the Sphero is helping students with autism learn

So often we hear about technology disrupting play and stunting or being less effective than “traditional” types of education. Rarely do we see technology blending in with education and children’s play and really supporting child development and learning.

This is one exception.

A school in Australia that works with autistic kids has adopted several Sphero robots (like BB8 from Star Wars), and has incorporated Sphero into both indoor and outdoor play.

Not only is it robust enough to be taken outside and played with alongside building blocks, it can also be used to teach coding away from a basic screen. “For kids with autism … around 90% of the information processed is what they can see. They’re very visual learners,” he said.

It can also help kids feel more comfortable in the school environment. Smith explained how some young students, around six and seven years old, often find it stressful to leave their classroom and travel to other parts of the school.”Early on, we found that if we let them guide Sphero: ‘Let’s take Sphero for a little adventure around the school,’ they would actually, with no trouble, go into the assembly or sport hall if they had Sphero with them,” he said. “It’s almost like they were brave and overcame their anxieties for the sake of showing Sphero.”

Sphero is robust enough that it can be used for paint projects, or just exploring in the dirt.

Just like Christopher Robin and his Winnie the Pooh, being able to use a proxy like Sphero to help explore the world can be very powerful and enabling for kids of all abilities, but especially kids on the autism spectrum.

More at: Beyond BB-8: How the Sphero is helping students with autism learn

Quick ways to be happier at work

Obviously there is a lot that goes into a “good” job – coworkers, supportive managers, and work you believe in. But there is also a surprising amount you can do within your own environment and office surroundings that will make your day-to-day grind better.

Here are a few compiled by Mashable (P.S.: Manatees are awesome!):

  1. Beautify your work space. You personalize your home; why not personalize your desk? Make your cube or office a pleasant place to work with a few framed photos, a decorative pen holder or a tiny cactus. Image: Mashable/Vicky Leta

Read them all


Dads Stacking Cheerios On Their Sleeping Babies Goes Viral

This is a time full of sad news of hatred. There is also lots of news of people generally not having much of a sense of humor. Plus, let’s face it, being a parent can be hard and it can be difficult to see the joy and playfulness in the mundane.
With all that, it’s nice to see that parents still can find joy in “breaking the rules” and doing something quite silly.

Moms and dads across the country are attempting to outdo each other by seeing how many Cheerios they can stack on their sleeping babies faces.
It all started when Patrick Quinn of Life of Dad, the online community for fathers that’s closing in on one million Facebook followers, posted a picture of his sleeping baby with a stack of five Cheerios on his head. He then challenged the internet to top him.

See more at: Dads Stacking Cheerios On Their Sleeping Babies Goes Viral

There are some kids that even awake and helping out with the stacking challenge.

Hooray for celebrating and sharing the silly, playful moments of parenthood!

The Real Guide to Imaginary Companions: Episode 1 – Science Friday

This is an often rejected idea; imaginary worlds and friends. I never had one, and my kids so far don’t, but the idea of creating another creature who explores the world along with you, or possibly in a very different way than you, is a fascinating concept to me.

Developmental psychologist have pieced together an unexpectedly diverse and nuanced profile of the children who create imaginary companions, while finding out how and why they create them.

Source: The Real Guide to Imaginary Companions: Episode 1 – Science Friday

Biophilic Cities Lead the Way to Urban Sustainability

Cities working to incorporate more natural scapes.

The Dirt

“We need density but we also need connections to nature,” said University of Virginia professor Timothy Beatley, at an event at the University of the District of Columbia (UDC) to celebrate D.C.’s successful inclusion in the Biophilic Cities Network, a group of leading cities pushing for rich, nature-filled experiences in daily urban life.

Beatley launched the network only a few years ago, but it already seems to have taken off. Building on the impact of his important books, Green Urbanism, Biophilic Cities, and Blue Urbanism, the network is designed to improve knowledge-sharing among cities who seek to merge the built and natural environments. Leading environmental cities — such as Singapore; Portland; San Francisco; Wellington, New Zealand; and now, Washington, D.C. — have joined, and another 20-30 cities are now exploring signing on.

Beatley explained how biophilic cities forge deeper, more meaningful connections to nature, which…

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Father and his astronaut son boldly explore life’s daily adventures in Small Steps are Giant Leaps | Inhabitots

One joy of having kids in your life – whether you’re a parent, grandparent, aunt, or a friend – is that you get to see the world through their new experiences, you get to see things for the first time again. The world is a brand new laboratory of discovery.

With this spirit of exploration and adventure in mind, I love this photo series trying to capture what it feels like to be doing things for the first time. For a kid it must feel like being an astronaut landing on the moon. As grown-ups we must not lose that love of adventure and re-discovery.

It may be cliché to say that one of the greatest joys of becoming a parent is getting to watch your child experience the world for the first time. But it’s absolutely true. That first step, the first taste of ice cream, the first trip to the ocean — it’s unbelievable to see how kids test out new experiences and react to them in this chaotic and exciting world. Photographer Aaron Sheldon takes this time of exploration personally with a photo series featuring his four year-old son, entitled Small Steps Are Giant Leaps. The photos, which show the little astronaut in a variety of different scenarios, remind all of us of how, in the words of Sheldon, kids are “exploring new frontiers. Our job as parents is to act as their mission control and co-pilot to make sure they can explore as much of their new world as possible.”

Read more about Aaron Sheldon’s adventures at: Father and his astronaut son boldly explore life’s daily adventures in Small Steps are Giant Leaps | Inhabitots

Recycled Art Sculpture | Mystery Box Challenge – TinkerLab

This is a great idea to see this kind of project given to adults to let them explore ideas and design.

I recently led a fun maker station for the California Museum Association’s (CAM) annual conference that we called the Mystery Box Challenge. While we often share child-led projects here on TinkerLab, the participants in this challenge were all all museum professionals. To see how my children interpreted the same prompt, click here. This project was inspired by the Art Studio at the Boston Children’s Museum.

For the Mystery Box Challenge, I prepared a bunch of boxes by filling them with all sorts of interesting found objects and trinkets: pieces of wood, surplus plastic, cupcake holders, pipe cleaners, pom-poms, etc. Each participant received their own box with a prompt to make a critter from any or all of the supplies in the box.I found the boxes at the craft store, some of the supplies came from RAFT (Resource Area for Teaching, a non-profit that sells low cost surplus materials for education), and others were found at the craft store and a local party store. We were also lucky to receive a generous donation of low heat glue guns and glue sticks from Blick Art Materials.

More at: Recycled Art Sculpture | Mystery Box Challenge – TinkerLab