The Kid Should See This Cool videos for curious minds of all ages. Sat, 30 Aug 2014 07:11:31 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Frank Howarth: Making a Case for Books Fri, 29 Aug 2014 17:07:38 +0000 The animated story of how four bookcases were made in Frank Howarth’s workshop: Making a Case for Books.

More stop motion in the archives: How Frank Howarth made a lawn chair and The Joy of Books. ]]> 0
Feedback loops: How nature gets its rhythms Thu, 28 Aug 2014 19:32:23 +0000 A grasshopper eats grass, a rat can eat the grasshopper, a snake may eat the rat, and a hawk will eat the snake. When these food chains interweave, they create a food web. Plants and animals (including humans) live, eat, reproduce, and die within these food webs, helping to create balance or instability the habitats that they live in.

This push and pull for balance, in any biome, is made of positive and negative feedback loops.

What is feedback? It is a process that is the result of mutual causal interaction: X affects Y and Y affects X. The mutual causal interaction creates a circuit of effects, so that any change in X, causing a change in Y, in turn causes another change in X, and so on – a feedback loop.

Learn more in this essential TED Ed lesson by Anje-Margriet Neutel, with animation by Brad Purnell.

Related watching: food chains, life cycles, symbiosis, sustainability, and ecology.

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Minute Physics: Why are Stars Star-Shaped? Thu, 28 Aug 2014 13:19:45 +0000 If we know that stars are massive spheres of hot gases, then why do we draw them with lots of twinkly points? Why doesn’t “star-shaped” mean a round shape? The answer: We see stars as pointy (and so does the Hubble Space Telescope). MinutePhysics explains.

Related watching: more stars, including how the colors of stars tell us what they’re made of, and how stars help us see distant planets. ]]> 0
Solar Powered Classroom Wed, 27 Aug 2014 19:34:29 +0000 When Aaron Sebens started talking about renewable energy with his fourth grade class, they kept coming back to their excitement about solar power and making it a more hands-on learning experience. How might they move away from fossil fuels and make their own clean energy?

Thanks to their ambitious teacher, help from parents, and a Kickstarter campaign that was funded seven times over, the students were able to make their Durham, North Carolina classroom completely solar powered.

From their 2013 Kickstarter:

Did you know that every minute enough photons come down to earth from the sun to power our world for a year? And have you ever wanted to save money, electricity and have less pollution? Well that is our goal. We believe in the sun and would like to fundraise to get enough money to buy solar panels for our classroom so we do not have to use any electricity from the power plant. We have been doing research on how much electricity we use to power our classroom so we know how many solar panels we need, and how much money it will cost. We will figure out how how to design and build a solar array, and with help we can make our classroom off the grid. We’re really excited about teaching others in our school and community about the power of solar energy.

Inspiring! Read more about their project at Kickstarter and

Related making at Instructables: Planning a Solar Array (Beginner’s Guide).

Related watching: How Gardening at School Enables Interdisciplinary Learning, Moser Lamps: 60 watts of free, natural light and how to build a solar oven.

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Animated Hair Cartoon, No. 18 (1925) Wed, 27 Aug 2014 07:15:02 +0000 From the UCLA Film & Television Archive, this is Animated Hair Cartoon, No.18 (1925), from Max Fleischer‘s Red Seal Pictures. Beyond it being fun to watch one face change into another, these images also come together as a pop culture time capsule from the early 20th century. From the historian’s notes:

The “Animated Hair” films, featuring artwork by “Marcus” (not well-known animator Sid Marcus, but a caricaturist for the original humorous Life Magazine) were relatively easy for the studio to produce, using one artist (his hand usually seen on screen drawing the image) and the gimmick of manipulating one caricature with stop motion to create a second caricature (usually by rearranging a hair-do). For example, in this entry, playwright George Bernard Shaw becomes baseball commissioner Kenesaw M. Landis, and Charlie Chaplin morphs into Buster Keaton. Audiences were thrilled. Fifty one “Animated Hair” shorts were produced between 1924 and 1927. This entry (No. 18) was released on July 11, 1925.

Also featured: Christy Mathewson, John McGraw, Samuel Gompers, Elsie Ferguson, and “Babe” Ruth.

And here’s more about UCLA’s Archives of Animation, from Fig. 1:

Watch more videos from the 1920s and more pioneering animation: Fleischer’s The Tantalizing Fly, Norman McLaren’s Pen Point Percussion, Oskar Fischinger’s Optical Poem, and Ray Harryhausen’s Mother Goose Stories. ]]> 0
Cherry harvesting with a hydraulic tree shaker Wed, 27 Aug 2014 05:41:41 +0000 What happens when farmers use a shaking machine to “pick” cherries from a cherry tree? This! Watch as these two machines — a hydraulic tree shaker calibrated to just the right amount of cherry tree-specific vibrations, and a conveyor belt with a catchall tarp — collect thousands of ripe cherries while keeping trees healthy and undamaged for future growing seasons.

In the archives: more harvesting and more conveyor belts, which includes these jiggling lemons and mushrooms.

via Viral Viral Videos. ]]> 0 Storm Chasing on Saturn: The hexagon-shaped hurricane Tue, 26 Aug 2014 06:11:44 +0000 Hexagon-shaped storms exist. There is a massive, persistent, hexagon-shaped jet stream on Saturn’s north pole — “the perfect six-sided hurricane, 60 miles deep, that could swallow four Earths…”

The New York TimesStorm Chasing on Saturn describes our first Voyager mission views of the phenomenon in 1981–82, as well as more recent Cassini images, like the NASA/JPL-Caltech/SSI/Hampton University images below.


How did this unusual hexagonal storm form? How long has it existed? What’s happening in those corners? Lab tests suggest some “how it’s made” answers — “friction with slower-moving atmosphere on either side of the jet stream would create eddies, miniature hurricanes, that would push the jet stream north and south as it went around the planet, resulting in a wave shape” — but the Cassini team is still looking into a huge list of unanswered questions as they prep to observe Saturn during its well-lit summer solstice in 2017.

In the archives, more storms, more hexagons, more auroras, and more Saturn.

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The Portuguese Man-of-War Up Close Mon, 25 Aug 2014 07:05:57 +0000 This incredible video, and the corresponding photos featured at National Geographic, are by retired combat photographer Aaron Ansarov, who photographs the Portuguese man-of-war (and releases them unharmed) when they wash up onto the beaches in Florida.

This looks like a jellyfish, but the Portuguese man-of-war is actually a siphonophore, which means that it’s composed of a colony of individual animals called zooids. Found in the warmer waters of the Pacific, Indian and Atlantic oceans, these creatures drift where the wind takes them, and are known for delivering a painful, venomous sting.



It may be challenging to think of an animal classified by a single species name – Physalia physalis – as being four separate creatures, but such is the strange reality of this squishy thing. The parts are so interdependent that any one can’t survive without the company of the other three. Sort of like how a ship can’t sail properly without all its crewmembers. Except that — in this case — the skipper, first mate and the rest are all tangled together into one gelatinous mass. Allow me to introduce you to the crew:

Polyp 1 – The pneumatophore. The floaty part that sticks out from the water. It is for this gas-filled bladder that the collective organism is named, as it looks a bit like the old warship with lofty sails.

Polyp 2 – The dactylozooids. These are the infamous stinging tentacles. They average about 30 feet (9 meters) in length but can be as long as 165 feet (50 meters).

Polyp 3 – The gastrozooids. These guys are in charge of digestion. They are a cluster of bag-like stomachs found underneath the floaty polyp.

Polyp 4 – The gonozooids. The Man o’ War’s reproductive department.

Visit National Geographic to see a stunning feature on Ansarov’s work:


Related watching on this site: There’s no such thing as a jellyfish.

via @sethmnookin ]]> 0 Le Manège d’Andrea in Nantes, France Fri, 22 Aug 2014 20:50:34 +0000 Which one of these incredible creatures and machines do you want to ride on at les Machines de l’ïle‘s le Manège d’Andrea in Nantes, France?

Related watching: Le grand éléphant.

via Atlas Obscura. ]]> 0 How Denim Jeans Are Made Fri, 22 Aug 2014 12:25:40 +0000 Everyone has a pair or two… or a few more than that. Around 450 million pairs are sold every year, and yet their origins might not be well-known. From a humble start as sturdy work pants, to today’s cotton farms, to how final styling details are added (which can include being washed with rocks), find out how denim jeans are made.

Related viewing: Don’t Wash Your Jeans, The Impact of One Cotton T-Shirt, and NPR’s brilliant series of videos, Planet Money Makes a T-Shirt. ]]> 0
The Curiosity Show: How does a music box work? Thu, 21 Aug 2014 18:46:18 +0000 In this clip from Australia’s The Curiosity Show, science educator and co-host Deane Hutton demonstrates the basics of sound, moving air particles, and forced vibrations with a plastic comb, hacksaw blades, the metal comb and bumpy metal drum of a music box, and a record-like metal disk.

In 500 episodes produced from 1972-1990, The Curiosity Show celebrated science, technology and things to make and do. Co-hosts Hutton and Rob Morrison won the rights to the show in 2012, and are sharing clips on their YouTube Channel for today’s generation of viewers.

Related reading: sound, forced vibration, and Sound Waves and Music.

Related watching: sound, vibration, instruments and how instruments are made. ]]> 0 What Happens When 350 Musicians Meet For The First Time? Thu, 21 Aug 2014 16:46:29 +0000 This summer, around 350 musicians of all kinds — “Young, older, professional drumlines, community marching bands, seasoned jazz players, Indian wedding band musicians, Brazilian samba drummers and scads of amateur players” — showed up on the steps of the Brooklyn Public Library at Grand Army Plaza, Brooklyn for a dynamic and unpredictable NPR Music Field Recording.

In a premiere and one-time-only event, this huge group of people performed “100+ BPM,” an original composition by Dhol drmmer and composer Sunny Jain, commissioned by NPR Music for Make Music New York festival. The energy is irresistible and we would have loved to have been there in person.

What Happens When 350 Musicians Meet For The First Time? Brilliance.

In the archives: NPR Music’s Tiny Desk Concerts: No BS! Brass Band.

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Sci Code: There’s no such thing as vegetables Wed, 20 Aug 2014 19:17:42 +0000 Botanically-speaking, the “veggies” that we’re eating are way more interesting and diverse than we usually give them credit for. A carrot is a root, broccoli is a flower, spinach is a leaf, asparagus are stems, potatoes are stem tubers, sweet potatoes are root tubers, snow peas are legumes, and tomatoes, avocados, cucumbers, pumpkins, and so many other veggies that we call veggies are all kinds of fruit. Vegetable is a culinary term.

SCI CODE’s Coma Niddy (Mike Wilson) explains why there’s no such thing as vegetables.

In the archives: more, um… vegetables.

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Eva Szasz’s Cosmic Zoom (1968) Wed, 20 Aug 2014 17:36:03 +0000 From director Eva Szasz and the National Film Board of Canada, Cosmic Zoom (1968) is a wordless journey that attempts to demonstrate the scale of the universe. Beginning with a boy boating on the Ottawa River, we travel far out into space before zooming back down into our microscopic world through a feeding mosquito.

The short film is based on the 1957 book Cosmic View: The Universe in 40 Jumps by Kees Boeke, the same book that inspired Charles and Ray Eames’ Powers of Ten, which first came out in ’68 before re-releasing in 1977.

Related watching: Powers of Ten, Mathematica: A World of Numbers… and Beyond, Noodles & the principle of halving, molten gold transform into gold leaf, and more from the National Film Board of Canada.

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How to Create Your Own Monarch Butterfly Rest Stop Tue, 19 Aug 2014 18:01:48 +0000 Creating your own Monarch Butterfly rest stop — a common milkweed and nectar plant-filled garden that is free of pesticides and herbicides — can help make a huge impact on the rapid decline of Monarch butterfly populations by providing a safe haven for Monarchs to feed, rest, or lay their eggs. From National Geographic, learn how we can each contribute to battling the iconic Monarch’s widespread habitat loss.

“I might just plant my one Monarch waystation, which is just a raindrop, but then if my neighbor sees it, and then another neighbor sees it, and then we start to grow them, then it becomes something significant.”

Visit your local plant nurseries and ask for common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca). If they don’t have it, order from Local Harvest, the Seattle Seed Co, these seed suppliers, or Amazon. Bonus idea: give away Milkweed seeds as party favors at your next birthday party.

Related watching: The Magnificent Monarchs, Wonders of Life: Monarch Butterflies, and The Hidden Beauty of Pollination. ]]> 0