The Kid Should See This Smart videos for curious minds of all ages: Science, art, nature, animals, space, technology, DIY, food, music, animation, and more Sat, 18 Feb 2017 21:56:47 +0000 en-US hourly 1 The exceptional life of Benjamin Banneker Fri, 17 Feb 2017 05:51:16 +0000 Born in 1731 on a farm in Baltimore, Maryland, Benjamin Banneker was an accomplished author, publisher, scientist, astronomer, mathematician, urban planner, activist, and farmer throughout his life. A free descendant of enslaved Africans, his opportunities for formal schooling were limited, but Banneker’s talents in mathematics, engineering, and the natural world flourished through his independent pursuit of knowledge and problem solving. Learn more about Benjamin Banneker’s exceptional life in this TED Ed by Rose-Margaret Ekeng-Itua.

Plus, dig deeper with TED Ed:

Visit PBS to read excerpts from his almanac, a summary of his letters to Thomas Jefferson, and Jefferson’s response to him. The National Archives of the United States has a transcript of Banneker’s actual letter to Thomas Jefferson here. Here is a link to the Library of Congress that displays Jefferson’s letter in response to Banneker. Here are more resources about Banneker that include actual photos of Banneker’s Almanac.

Retrobituaries: Benjamin Banneker, the African-American Mathematician Who May Have Saved Washington, D.C. has some links to awesome resources about Banneker and discusses the impact he had on our country’s history.

For more information on Banneker’s Almanac, and his place in the history of the United States, visit this Library of Congress site.

Next, more stories: France A. Córdova – Nautilus’ Spark of Science, The Animated Life of A.R. Wallace, and Dr. Mae Jemison, NASA Astronaut: I Wanted To Go Into Space. ]]> 0
Throwing a simple pottery salt pot on the wheel Fri, 17 Feb 2017 04:45:47 +0000 From Ingleton Pottery, watch this quick and simple demonstration of how a pottery salt cellar or pot can be created on a potter’s wheel. The piece consists of a closed round vase shape that’s given a large side hole for accessing the salt. It can also be used as a garlic storage pot or a bird feeder.

Next: From the potter’s wheel at Tortus Copenhagen, Made by the Sea – Pottery from beach-harvested clay, and Experimental animation meets pottery – A zoetrope bowl.

Bonus fave: Kintsugi & kintsukuroi – The art of pottery mending with gold. ]]> 0 Under The Dock, a marine life series by Hakai Institute Thu, 16 Feb 2017 05:08:31 +0000 Described as a fearsome predator on the British Columbia coast, sunflower sea stars “can grow to a diameter of one meter, and have a voracious appetite for all sorts of animals on the rocky reef.” From Hakai Institute, this is one in their Under The Dock series of short videos featuring incredible but often unnoticed local creatures… like the Opalescent Nudibranch, a colorful sea slug:

Red Tubeworms are red, white, and yellow creatures that might look at home in a Dr. Seuss book:

Chitons are plate-protected marine mollusks:

Get a closer look at Red Rock Crabs of the North American coast:

…and finally, explore these small and spiny urchins:

Explore more videos featuring echinoderms, nudibranches, all kinds of worms, mollusks, crabs (lots of them), and sea urchins on this site. Favorite: This Jorunna sea slug looks like a tiny, fluffy sea bunny.

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Alike, an animated short film Thu, 16 Feb 2017 04:47:12 +0000 Copi is a father who’s trying to teach his daily way of life to Paste, his son. Watch as they head off to their work and school routines in a bustling city, and see what they discover along the way. Alike is an animated short film directed by Daniel Martínez Lara & Rafa Cano Méndez of Pepe School Land animation studio in Barcelona, Spain.

Next: Papa and Perfect World, a wintry adventure.

Bonus: The Genius of Play – Vital benefits of playtime in 9 animations. ]]> 0 Water in Helheim Glacier Makes Its Way to the Ocean Thu, 16 Feb 2017 04:41:06 +0000

New NASA research found that large crevasses provide aquifer water upstream of Greenland’s Helheim Glacier with a clear escape to the ocean. This discovery helps confirm that the water, which is held in a layer of crunchy, granular snow called firn, contributes to sea level rise.

Related vocabulary: Meltwater is water that’s created from the warming of snow and ice, especially from a glacier. An aquifer is rock that delivers water into wells, springs, and other water collection areas. Firn is dense, recrystallized snow that can sometimes trap or transmit water like rock can.

Next: The Hidden Perils of Permafrost and Climate Change 101 with Bill Nye + solutions great and small. ]]> 0
Rainbow Wave LEGO Great Ball Contraption Wed, 15 Feb 2017 18:02:06 +0000 Featuring a 38 color rainbow of LEGO bricks, this Rainbow Wave LEGO Great Ball Contraption (GBC) was built in over 100 hours by Berthil van Beek. It’s his first GBC build. Watch as tiny soccer balls and basketballs move along the top of the wave. Via Brothers Brick:

The Rainbow Wave Great Ball Contraption uses about 1,150 pieces and is powered by a single motor, with each of the colored pistons sitting on an 8-tooth gear. Each piston’s gear is exactly 1 tooth offset from its neighbors, and this means the balls travel in a perfectly level line as they move across the waving surface. Berthil says this mechanism took a lot of testing and redesigning to perfect…


Next, a classic video: The LEGO Great Ball Contraption – 17 different modules of incredible. ]]> 0
A Real-Life Bone Collector: Recovering an Extinct Human Ancestor Wed, 15 Feb 2017 17:08:24 +0000 Follow biological anthropologist and ‘bone collector’ Dr. Marina Elliott deep into the ancient underground crevasses that would reveal around 1,500 bone fragments belonging to Homo naledi, a new species in human lineage that has a combination of features not yet found in the fossil record. In the cave system located northwest of Johannesburg, South Africa — where some passages might only be eight inches wide — Elliott and the all-woman Rising Star Expedition team excavated the remains:

The discovery of our new but extinct family member Homo naledi—named after Rising Star Cave, as naledi means “star” in a local South African language—is turning our understanding of our past on its head just a bit. Homo naledi appears to be one of the most primitive known species in the human genus, with a small brain and ape-like features. But H. naledi also has some more humanlike features that distinguish it from any other known early human ancestors. It has curved fingers good for climbing, feet and legs suited for long-distance walking, and H. naledi may have even engaged in ritualized behavior.

“There’s a lot of books about human origins and human evolution. For a long time, I think we thought we sort of wrapped it up. What Homo naledi has done is kind of forced a whole scale rethink of that. The family tree that we always think about, and have been adding little twigs and branches to along the way, actually may be a lot bushier than we ever really realized. In fact, that whole tree analogy may not be a good analogy at all. A lot of these branches actually rejoined each other and became something else. The relationships of past species and past populations is a lot more complicated than we had originally assumed.



With more remains to discover, Elliott will be leading excavation teams down into the caves well into the future. Read more at National Geographic about the expedition and findings: This Face Changes the Human Story. But How?

See more videos from the dig: Deep in the caves with Homo Naledi & the Rising Star Expedition.

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The Glass Ribbon Machine Tue, 14 Feb 2017 08:44:59 +0000 In 1879, Thomas Edison and his research team developed a durable carbon-filament light bulb. In the 1880s and 90s, when glass had to be blown by hand, the skilled Corning glassblowers that Edison hired could produce two light bulb glass shells per minute, a pace that couldn’t meet the public’s demand for easy and inexpensive electricity.

Enter Corning master glassblower William J. Woods, who, in 1921, thought of forming the glass shells through holes in a metal plate. Collaborating with mechanical engineer and colleague David E. Gray, his idea developed into The Glass Ribbon Machine, which could produce up to 300 light bulbs per minute by 1926. Before the end of the century, newer versions of the machine could produce 1,600 bulbs per minute. From

A glass melting tank sat above one end of the machine, feeding a stream of molten glass from its forehearth down between two metal drums, which flattened the glass into a thick, glowing ribbon. This yellow-orange ribbon was laid onto a series of square plates, each with a small hole in its center, which were linked together in the manner of a bicycle chain and driven by sprockets at either end of the oval.

As soon as the glass ribbon was laid on the chain, the glass began to sink through the holes, giving nascent form to the future bulb blanks. A chained series of moving plungers above the chain descended on the hot ribbon, pushing compressed air into the sagging glass. And a third chain, below and inside the first, thrust up a series of split molds which snapped together around the forming glass to give final shape to the bulb blanks before unsnapping just as quickly to reveal the familiar light bulb configuration.

From the Corning Museum of Glass, this is high speed footage of “the machine that lit up the world,” now a relic from a pre-LED bulb era. It was preserved by the museum in 2016 after Osram Sylvania closed their Wellsboro, Pennsylvania plant, one of the last U.S. factories where ribbon machines were used.

Next, build your own light bulb, watch glass artist Kiva Ford make handmade scientific & artistic glassware, and enjoy Glas, Bert Haanstra‘s Oscar winning documentary short film. ]]> 0
A tiny balloon-powered organ made from paper & cardboard Tue, 14 Feb 2017 06:07:43 +0000 With the exception of a piece of plastic that allows a peek at its inner workings, and a large balloon that provides required wind through its pipes, this tiny pipe organ is made out of paper and cardboard. It was designed and constructed by Belarus-based paper engineer Aliaksei Zholner, complete with 18 tiny keys and painstakingly-tuned reeds.

In case you missed it: Zholner also constructed an incredibly tiny, balloon-powered paper V8 engine.

Next: The Wanamaker Organ – The world’s largest musical instrument and Morske Orgulje – The Sea Organ in Zadar, Croatia.

via Colossal. ]]> 0 How small are we in the scale of the universe? Tue, 14 Feb 2017 04:35:55 +0000

In 1995, scientists pointed the Hubble Telescope at an area of the sky near the Big Dipper. The location was apparently empty, and the whole endeavor was risky – what, if anything, was going to show up? But what came back was nothing short of spectacular: an image of over 1,500 galaxies glimmering in a tiny sliver of the universe.

From TED Ed and Alex Hofeldt, take an animated look at NASA’s Hubble Deep Field and eXtreme Deep Field (XDF) images: How small are we in the scale of the universe?

Next: The 1995 Hubble photo that changed astronomy, The Hubble Ultra Deep Field in 3D, The Most Astounding Fact, Solar System, Milky Way, Laniakea: Our home supercluster, and how do we measure the universe?

Bonus: Building the solar system to scale in the Nevada desert. ]]> 0 Color changing dominoes Mon, 13 Feb 2017 18:49:37 +0000 What does it look like when falling dominoes have different colors on each of their faces and their edges? Pro domino artist Hevesh5 put together a quick color changing domino screenlink video — screenlinks are a series of setups that look connected when they’re edited together — with a set of mixed color, black and white, and clear dominoes. Watch it run forwards and backwards.

Previously from Hevesh5: HUGE Domino Tower Fail and The Amazing Triple Spiral (15,000 dominoes). ]]> 0
Talkin’ Scat with Hoots the Owl and Gordon – Sesame Street Mon, 13 Feb 2017 17:56:35 +0000 Learn how to scat sing — to sing using your voice like an instrument in an improvisational jazz style — with Hoots the Owl, Gordon, and some “hip kittens” (a group of kids) in this classic Sesame Street clip from 1988 titled Talkin’ Scat.

Watch more Sesame Street videos and more brilliant scat singing in the archives, including the video that helped inspire TKSST: Ella Fitzgerald scat singing One Note Samba (1969).

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Almost-invisible hydrogel robots that can grab quickly Fri, 10 Feb 2017 16:17:30 +0000 These almost-invisible robot hands can grab things quickly. MIT engineers have been working to create a durable gel formula that can be 3-D printed and laser cut into soft robotic parts, like flapping fish fins or gentle gripping fingers. From

The robots are made entirely of hydrogel — a tough, rubbery, nearly transparent material that’s composed mostly of water. Each robot is an assemblage of hollow, precisely designed hydrogel structures, connected to rubbery tubes. When the researchers pump water into the hydrogel robots, the structures quickly inflate in orientations that enable the bots to curl up or stretch out…

To apply their hydrogel materials to soft robotics, the researchers first looked to the animal world. They concentrated in particular on leptocephali, or glass eels — tiny, transparent, hydrogel-like eel larvae that hatch in the ocean and eventually migrate to their natural river habitats.

“It is extremely long travel, and there is no means of protection,” Yuk says. “It seems they tried to evolve into a transparent form as an efficient camouflage tactic. And we wanted to achieve a similar level of transparency, force, and speed.”

The researchers envision a future where these hydrogel robot parts might help in medical operations or work as unseen underwater robots.

File under biomimicry. Next, check out Sticky Actuator: Inflatable stick-on ‘pouch motors’ and Dancing Paper, 8bit Harmonica, and Musical Umbrella.

via Boing Boing. ]]> 0 A Protula bispiralis (red fan worm) opening in real time Thu, 09 Feb 2017 06:43:58 +0000 Set to the MIT Chamber Chorus performing O Fortuna from Carmina Burana, this is a Protula bispiralis or red fan worm opening in real time. The clip is via marine biologist Christopher Mah who suggests that “you will probably never see a more dramatic opening for a serpulid polychaete than this video.” It’s true.

Watch more incredible marine life: Slow Life: Incredible macro video of fluorescing corals & sponges and Ocean sponges have incredible filtering power. Plus, all kinds of worms. ]]> 0
The psychology behind ‘Us vs Them’ – BrainCraft Thu, 09 Feb 2017 06:16:58 +0000

How do we weigh our own best interests against the best interests of others? This question can be extended beyond ‘Me vs You’ and into the ‘Us and Them.’ How do I weigh my family’s self interests against the needs of a family I’ve never met? What about the citizens of my country vs the citizens of another?

From Braincraft‘s Vanessa Hill, this is Us vs Them: Immigration, Empathy and Psychology, an exploration into Social Identity Theory, “a theory that predicts certain intergroup behaviours on the basis of perceived group status differences, the perceived legitimacy and stability of those status differences, and the perceived ability to move from one group to another.”

Hill also reveals how empathy gaps between ‘in-groups’ and ‘out-groups’ can be reduced: Simply doing nice things for those who are not in the same group can help build strong positive connections, as proven by science.

Related reading: The Sneetches and Other Stories by Dr. Seuss.

Next: JR’s A Walker in New York City, an installation time lapse, School of Life’s The Uses of Envy, and TED Ed’s Why are we so attached to our things? ]]> 0