Celebrate Black History Month

We’ve had a great month of giveaways, first the Rubies, then the incomparable Walter Dean Myers, followed by a salute to African-American women.

Today, we are wrapping up our celebration with the greatest giveaway of all time (on OOM). Are you ready? One lucky winner will receive one copy each of the following:

Just leave a comment on this post between now and 12:00pm on Monday, March 2nd. We will choose a winner at random (Scholastic employees are not eligible). And while you’re at it, tell us what you did to observe Black History Month. What did your kids do? What did you learn?

Finally, I saw this great piece on NBC last night about how a simple bulletin board — and a teacher’s creativity — is helping young students envision their futures.


ALA giving out literacy and gaming grants

This was just too cool to keep off the blog:

I read in School Library Journal this morning that ALA is giving out $5,000 grants to help libraries that use board games and video games to support literacy development and reading.

This is a topic that is close to my heart, as OOM readers surely know. I think there’s a lot of potential for using video games to draw reluctant readers into stories — and a lot of similarities between books and video games in how they draw you into a story world.

Quidditch matches in NYC!

If you’ve ever been to Central Park or Prospect Park in New York, you’ve probably seen people playing pickup soccer and softball. There’s even quite a bit of cricket played in NYC parks.

But here’s a new one to keep an eye out for: Quidditch!

A Harry Potter Meetup group based in New York (know as The Group that Shall Not be Named) apparently gets together for friendly Quidditch matches on pre-determined weekends. I haven’t been myself, but it looks like a good time.

One of the members of the group posted some photos of a recent match on Flickr today (here and here).

Apparently the match was supposed to be a meeting of the Central Park Centaurs and the Manhattan Marauders.

I wonder who won…

P.S. A quick Google search reveals this, perhaps, isn’t totally new. But it was the first I’d heard of it!

This is the smartest generation

I was so impressed by the conversation happening today on a discussion forum at The Net Gen Education Challange — a site created by Don Tapscott, author of Grown Up Digital — that I was moved to post a response here.

Vicki Davis (“CoolCatTeacher“) and her students are responding in droves to the question “Is this the dumbest generation?”

If you know what’s good for you, you’ll go read the responses.

Here’s mine:

The discussion on this forum today by these incredible students is proof that what Don Tapscott said is true: “As you [net gen] move into every institution in society, you are a powerful force for change – and change for the better.”

Those who cut down the students of today for being “dumber” than those of past generations, or say this generation “doesn’t give a damn,” are the ones that are going to lose out in the end. As the students of today grow up, they will be among the most valuable assets institutions (companies, government agencies, laboratories, schools, etc) will have for staying competitive, being innovative and cooperating globally.

They will come in with fresh ideas, unstoppable enthusiasm and an innate understanding of how the world of today has changed from what it was 10, 20 and 50 years ago.

Students need to be encouraged to embrace their digital skills and their voice – pushed forward, not held back. To stifle that would be a colossal waste.

To those who say “the future is hopeless” – this is proof that the future is bright. It’s by embracing the skills and passions of this generation that we’ll find solutions for global warming, create unique ways for resolving conflict, discover cures to now-untreatable diseases and grow prosperity across the globe.

Keep it up!!


A Message from Pat Murphy, editor at Klutz

Klutz has asked us to share the following message from Pat Murphy, an editor there.

I wanted to let everyone know that Lenore Edman at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories and I had a good conversation this afternoon.

We spoke about our shared commitment to making science and technology accessible to children. We began a discussion of ways that Klutz could acknowledge the exceptional work that Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories has done in Bristlebot research – starting with this message and continuing with acknowledgment in the next printing of the book and on the Klutz website.

At Klutz, the toothbrush robot evolved from the work of another editor and content developer on vibrobots, beginning when he wrote Battery Science. Sometime in early 2007, his efforts to shrink a vibrobot to a size that would fit on a book led him to strap a pager motor on a well-worn toothbrush. When he left Klutz, I worked on a tight deadline to refine his work and develop ways that kids ages 8 and up could play with these Bots. Unfortunately, when working on a tight deadline, I tend to focus inward, rather than looking outward for others who might be able to help. And publishers, unlike the Maker community (or the education community where I spent many years), tend to keep their research under wraps until we’re ready to publish.

My biggest regret in all this is that I missed the opportunity to work with the amazing and innovative folks at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories. I realized, as Lenore and I talked, that Lenore and Windell were perhaps the only other people on the planet who are as obsessed as I am with toothbrush bristles. And I’m hoping, given my conversation with Lenore, that I may still have that opportunity.

I know that other people who are doing Bristlebot projects are concerned that Klutz might somehow interfere with their work. Please stop worrying about that. We are happy to have become a member of the community of Bristlebot makers.

This episode has provided Klutz with a rather painful crash course in what makes the Maker community unique and powerful. Thanks for the education. (As I discovered when I studied martial arts, learning experiences can be painful.)

I look forward to more conversations with Lenore and Windell and the rest of the Maker community.


Book giveaway – Part 3

This week in our Black History Month book giveaway, THREE people have a chance to win.

We’re going multimedia this week, with a book from the popular Dear America series called I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly: The Diary of Patsy, a Freed Girl and a Weston Woods DVD of Nikki Giovanni’s Caldecott Award-winning book Rosa. (One lucky winner will get a surprise bonus.)

For a chance to win, just leave a comment telling us your favorite African-American woman from history.

Personally, ever since my first women’s history course in college I’ve been a fan of Sojourner Truth:

That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted over ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or over mud-puddles, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman? Look at me! Look at my arm! I have ploughed and planted, and gathered into barns, and no man could head me! And ain’t I a woman? I could work as much and eat as much as a man – when I could get it – and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?

Statement from Klutz on Bristlebots

Hey everyone, you might have seen the posts on Engadget and the Make blog this afternoon about a new book from Klutz called Invasion of the Bristlebots that was showing at Toy Fair.

This is a statement we’re relaying from Klutz:

Klutz is genuinely surprised by this reaction to our book. The development of “Invasion of the Bristlebots” by the Klutz creative team dates back to at least early 2007 and was developed internally like other Klutz products. In light of this misunderstanding, we’re contacting the folks at Evil Mad Scientist Laboratories in the interest of addressing the concerns that have been raised.

UPDATE (2.20.09): Thanks for your comments. We’ve passed them along to the Klutz team. As we said last night, Klutz is contacting the folks at EMS. Stay tuned.

UPDATE (2.21.09): We’ve posted a message from Pat Murphy, Editor at Klutz above.