gift ideas

Becoming a STEMinist with StemBox – Win a StemBox!

StemBox header

Last weekend, Kitty and I were invited to join Kina McAllister, Founder and CEO of StemBox , as she led a group of 15 girls in a “StemBox Workshop”.  McAllister, formerly a HIV researcher at Fred Hutichinson Cancer Research Institute, uses the workshops to test the monthly boxes before they are shipped to girls all over the country.  We had the opportunity to test out March’s “Lemon Battery Kit”  and we were super impressed. Read on to learn all about it, and enter to win your own StemBox!

We arrived at the HiveBio Community Lab, got a name badge and the girls went into a small room.  Kina introduced herself, and then did a short lesson on electricity, the components you need to make a battery, and how the items in the kit (lemons, galvanized nails, a piece of copper and some wire) met those needs. Our mission was to create a battery that could power a small LED.  Everything we needed was included in the box that would be mailed to subscribers- with the exception of the lemons.

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StemBox Founder Kina gives a lesson on electricity.

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Safety first!

After a quick talk about safety, the girls headed downstairs to the lab. The girls were so excited to open their boxes. They had all taken the safety lesson very seriously and were all gloved up and decked out in their safety goggles in no time. Then they got down to work.  It was a little tricky for some of the younger girls to figure out the wiring pattern, as the lesson hadn’t included a mention of the multiple lemons needed to generate enough electricity to power the LED, but once that was figured out every girl successfully created a working lemon battery.  There was a little time left after the main experiment, and Kina encouraged the girls to create their own experiments. The girls added more lemons to their circuit, measured electricity with a voltmeter, added more LEDs, added more wires….it was really neat to watch the girls come up with ideas and then test them out. 

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Kit was very focused!

When this box is sent to subscribers it will include instructions and all of the materials needed minus anything perishable – which parents will have to provide; in this case lemons, some fun surprises like stickers, and links to a video demonstration and a video bio of a “STEMinist” (A STEM Feminist – I LOVE it!) currently working in the field.

McAllister came up with the idea for StemBox when she realized that the science kits that helped her get interested in science aren’t as readily available to kids today.  She knew that consistent access is a key to keeping girls interested and engaged, and a subscription box seemed like the best way to do that.  She has developed an engaging product that Kitty loved – she begged me to subscribe before we even left the building.  When we got home she was so excited to show Nate the box the folks at StemBox were kind enough to send us home with. They sat together and replicated the experiment, and then Nate showed her some other things she could do with the materials.  We’re very excited to subscribe and see what next month’s box brings!

Nate lliked it, too!

Nate lliked it, too!

StemBox is $28.33 – $36/month depending on your subscription plan. You can subscribe here.

 

StemBox has been generous enough to provide one Parenting Geekly reader with their own Lemon Battery StemBox!  Use the form below to enter:
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Funko Pop! Sesame Street Vinyl Figures Unboxing

If you read this blog with any sort of frequency, you know that I LOVE Sesame Street.  (You can read my other Sesame Street Posts here) So I was pretty darn excited when Funko sent me a bunch of their new Sesame Street Pop! vinyl figures.   I, along with everyone else in the world, love the Pop! figures (I currently have a Funko Pop! Phillie Phanatic on my desk at Joule HQ), and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on these!

They came yesterday afternoon, so today I did my first unboxing video!  Check it out!

The Sesame Street figures will be available on May 25, 2015 . You can order them at this (affiliate) link:
Funko Pop! Sesame Street Figures at Amazon

Review: Samsung Galaxy Gear 2

Review: Samsung Galaxy Gear 2
The original Galaxy Gear in smashing rose gold (bottom), and the much improved Galaxy Gear 2 (top, with Pip-Boy watch face)

As we march headlong into ‘the future is now!’ one of the big new fields is wearable tech. I am all about metrics and data and information, so as soon as the Galaxy Gear became available, I wanted one. Super-Dad got me a Samsung Galaxy Gear (original version, in rose gold of course ) for our anniversary last year – my kind of jewelry! Sometimes being an early adopter has its disappointments. The general concepts are there, answering calls and texts from your wrist, a camera, and a pedometer; they just aren’t executed super well. I found the software to be buggy and the hardware to be clunky. The camera is inconveniently placed and constantly brushed against stuff. The charging port was a ridiculous contraption that wrapped around the entire watch face. But, this isn’t a review of the Original Galaxy Gear, it’s a review of the far superior follow up attempt, the Galaxy Gear 2.

The Galaxy Gear 2 may only be a second generation device, but in this age of super fast development cycles, that means more than it once did. The interface has improved dramatically, with significantly less bugginess than the original. It has a great list of features including IR (can be used to screw with your friends’ TVs! Or just to change the channel on your own set ) a heart rate monitor, a more accurate pedometer, and a sleep monitor. The Gear 2 also offers a more robust list of apps from which you can get notifications. SD is a constantly on call Systems Engineer, and the ability to check these alerts for urgency without fumbling around for his phone it great. It offers him both quick convenience and subtlety when we are out and about. This has been the true selling point for him. He, like so many of us, had given up on wearing a watch. It’s a relic in a time when everyone has a phone in their pocket. He was reminded of how convenient it is to easily check the time from your wrist, and the Gear 2 has the added bonus of allowing you to also check message and mail. It’s quite the time saver.

The ability to customize the watch has greatly improved since the original Galaxy hit the scene as well. There are a ton of watch faces available whether you want a fancy multiface analog style watch or something a little more geeky, like the Fallout Pip-Boy display.

The hardware has also gone through a major update with the two major design flaws – the obtrusive camera lens and the bulky charger – both being replaced with sleeker more integrated design. The charging port is still a separate piece that snaps onto the back of the watch face, and a downside to it being smaller is that it’s much easier to potentially lose. I’d find a permanent home for it, and just leave it plugged in.

Super-Dad did accidentally “wrist dial” people a few times. Mostly me, but it did lead to at least one awkward conversation with a business associate. SD also found that the icons would rearrange themselves on the home screen, which was annoying. These complaints could be avoided by addressing one of our other complaints and adding a lock screen. The Gear 2’s accelerometer also locked up once during the three weeks he tested it. This went unnoticed for a few days, SD just figured it wasn’t tracking sleep for some reason,  but was easily fixed with by restarting.

So what’s the verdict? Well, our Gear 2 is on loan from AT&T for review purposes, and SD really doesn’t want to give it back. Guess it’s a good thing that Christmas is just a few short days away. The Gear 2 would make a great gift for any Samsung Galaxy user. I can actually see it being really practical for our teen as well. Phones are supposed to stay in pockets at school, but a watch is a useful tool and a watch that also gives my ADHD kid reminders? I think that could be pretty great.

You can check out AT&T’s collection of wearable devices here: http://www.att.com/shop/wireless/accessories/wearables.html

And you can see the whole family of Galaxy Wearables here: http://www.samsung.com/us/mobile/wearable-tech/all-products??cid=ppc-ce-wea-0614-43700002117091018

I was not compensated for this post, I was offered the Galaxy Gear 2, on loan, for reivew purposes from AT&T.