Win-win: Help the planet and get less junk mail


Tell me if this is familiar: You move into a new apartment or house, and you’ve started to settle in, but something is up. There are ghosts in your house–I don’t mean supernatural ghosts, I mean the “previous tenant” ghosts that receive more mail than you do.

As I moved a couple months ago, I am currently dealing with this problem. While some of the mail I can write “Return to Sender – No Longer at This Address,” some of it is magazines or junk mail. Now that the holidays are approaching, it seems that the volume of mail-order catalogs has quadrupled.

As a possible solution, I discovered Continue reading

Game idea for NagaDemon

Untitled design

I think I’ve settled on the game idea I want to explore [see previous post about NagaDemon]. It’s inspired by the fact that the Seattle Public Utilities has relatively recently required that all food scraps be put in a compost/yard waste bin instead of the garbage. In fact, you can get a fine if they find food in the garbage (see this NPR story).

For myself and others, we have all had some hiccups getting used to the new system, so I thought a game would be a more engaging way to help people figure out what to do. (The Seattle Public Utilities apparently did have a recycling game from sometime around 2010, but I have never played it and all the links I can find for it are broken. My guess is that it was taken down because it doesn’t include the new compost rules). Continue reading

NagaDemon: Design a game in a month!


I’ve decided for the first time to try to do NAGADEMON – National Game Design Month, which is November. (Incidentally, it is also the National Novel Writing Month, but I’ll try that next year, perhaps?)

I’m going to take the NagaDemon opportunity to try the free digital game design tool Construct 2. I’ve played around with Scratch before, but never completed a game. What’s cool about these tools is that you are not required to learn how to write code. There are drop down menus or “puzzle-pieces” that help scaffold the computational thinking process. Also, if you did at some point want to get in and edit the code directly, you can do that as well.

Luckily, I have a team of friends in the Seattle, WA, area who are going to help the motivation process of completing a game! I will be posting here about my ideas, progress and feedback. If you are also doing the challenge and want someone to bounce ideas off, send me a message!

Let the games begin!
–The Science Slug

Pixar uses scientific data to create landscapes in upcoming film

THE GOOD DINOSAUR - Pictured: Arlo. ©2015 Disney•Pixar. All Rights Reserved.

I’m a big fan of Pixar because I think the studio consistently creates some of the most compelling and original stories in film today. However, now I have even more reasons to like them: In their most recent film about dinosaurs, the designers used used data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) to help create stunning 3D landscapes.

More after the jump. Continue reading

The Dark Ages and DDT

If man were to faithfully follow the teachings of Miss Carson…we would return to the Dark Ages, and the insects and diseases and vermin would once again inherit the earth.

This is how one chemical company executive reacted to Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring, the 1962 book that contained so much evidence on the damaging ecological and human health effects of the pesticide DDT that it revolutionized how the world used the chemical. DDT was once sprayed from trucks to blanket entire towns. Now it’s banned from widespread commercial use…and we’re still waiting for the Dark Ages.

You can read a nice little summary of the impact of Rachel Carson and her book at the National Resource Defense Council.

Four Ed Tech Companies in Seattle Worth Noting


At the Ed Tech Meetup I wrote about previously, several start-up companies presented their products to a “Shark Tank panel” of local Seattle educators for feedback and comments. All of the presentations were good and it was interesting to see the ideas on which people are working. Interestingly, all of the companies had experience in or created products for reading/English literacy and educator productivity. Here are links and brief descriptions for the products that were described (in order of appearance): Continue reading

What makes us human?


Artificial Intelligence has been a recurrent theme that has appeared in a lot of science fiction movies and games. It’s also a recurrent theme in the human experience because it explores questions such as “What makes us human?”. I will discuss a few thoughts on some examples that I have come across recently in one game (Thomas was Alone) and two films (The Imitation Game, Ex Machina) after the jump.

Continue reading