Saturday, November 27, 2010

NYC Subway Puppetry: UrbanZ Arts... Cool...

Education Fun,

Life of young performance artists gets down into the New York City Subway...  :-)

You gotta be up for adventure and some "tough audiences" when you're new and young and dedicated to your art...

Their busking sign said something like ...  ? "My Plastic Bag Toy"...? (I could not read it well from the video...) 

Obviously the young woman is a skilled ballerina and puppeteer with an ingenious new technique of
puppet-manipulation... and to create such emotion and specialized ballet movements... with a plain white plastic bag...and her body... that transcends the UrbanZ Subway Setting...
is "fantastical phantasm"  Supreme!!!

Maybe she will get some media attention, well-deserved...

You saw it first here: on phineas8888 "Education Fun"... :-)
Cool... Totally Cool...


Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Astronomy Picture of the Day: Nova-Ember: Star & Fire: 24, 2010

Education Fun: Astronomy Picture of the Day
Posted on 11/24/2010 6:40pm

Dear Educators,
It is the evening before Thanksgiving: Nova-Ember: Star & Fire:
24, 2010...

and I just checked-in at my "Astronomy Picture of the Day" routine at:

and Wow: "Flowing Auroras: Time-Lapse Photographs Over Norway"
by Tor Even Mathisen

It is an HD video with quiet music and whispered singing...

This tells you why the "Ancients" and the "Native Cultures" knew that Nature is alive and holy...

I can't make this stuff up; this is our Sky speaking...

Presented courtesy of our government:

No drugs needed; show this to your students if you wish...

Giving thanks to you all here at

Allen Berg

Picasso Painting in a Museum: Mother and Child

Education Fun,

My friend was in Europe recently and photographed this painting by Picasso in a museum.

One thing that struck me immediately (perhaps because I am a Geometer :-) are the many different
triangles and tetrahedra forms that Picasso uses in the composition of this painting!!!

Combined with his solid columnesque 'architecture' of the mother and the chair she is sitting in...

This painting feels like a Monumental Mountain...
I guess that is why they call this style of painting "Cubism"...  :-)

Enjoy your viewing...


Sunday, November 21, 2010

Walter Wick: Can You See What I See? On A Scary Scary Night?




Walter Wick: Can You See What I See? On A Scary Scary Night?

Dear Imagineers,

Walter Wick is a genius educator and artist and award winning author and photographer of books for children, and has one of the Most Fun Museum Exhibitions currently on display at the Walters Art Museum in Baltimore, Maryland during this Holiday Season: "Walter Wick: Games, Gizmos, and Toys in the Attic"... a must-see for kids of all ages...

and he has the best "Behind-The-Scenes"/How-to-Make-a "Can You See What I See" Magic Book Website at:
which is the specific link to his website "Scary Scary Night" book production photographs...and if you click on his Biography section, you will learn about his childhood art and development as a teenage artist and photographer, and see the actual 2 photographs he made as a young man that launched his phenomenal successful career...

which just so happens to be 2 stunning examples of "Analysis of a Whole and its Parts including Compare & Contrast Examples": using miscellaneous small screws, nails, pins, paper clips, springs, odds and ends... and his Scholastic Magazine cover photograph for Kindergarten kids, titled "Fasteners"...

So perhaps you and your students might be inspired and instructed in "How to Make Your Own Classroom "Can You See What I See?" Books of Phantasm and Phun...



"Pixar: 25 Years of Animation" at the Oakland Museum and online...

Education Fun,

Okay, it is officially the Holiday if you are lucky enough to live around the San Francisco Bay Area, or are planning a visit there, go see "Pixar: 25 Years of Animation" at the Oakland Museum...on display through January 9, 2011.

Or if you don't live around the San Francisco Bay Area and will not be visiting this Holiday Season, visit the Exhibit online at hundreds of websites and youtube videos etc...
just type "Pixar" in Google search...

As you already know, Pixar is for Children of All Ages...

I checked out Pixar University online, a fascinating in-house University at their Emeryville, California Headquarters and found out amazing educational offerings for ALL their employees...and watched an Edutopia video lecture by one of their Chief Directors/University Dean: Randy Nelson emphasize "character study and development" and "mastery of a skill" and "resillency from failure to be able to achieve innovation"... (sound familiar...? :-)

I checked out and read a wonderfully charming personal history of one of their animators, at their "Artists Corner"
which reveals how a real professional artist's career path in (digital) animation can begin from very different backgrounds and interests, including "pre-med" college studies... :-)


Pixar changed the world for all of us: creating new heroes and instilling new hopes in our hearts...
"In dreams begin responsibilities..."
so this Holiday Season, at Edutopia: let's dream together...
and make it happen...

Doodler with a pencil,

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

How Big is the Universe? a brief visual exploration through space and time

Education Fun,

To complement the previous post about Night Sky Maps and Night Sky viewing, here is a wonderful kid-friendly visual extravaganza and brief informative excerpts about the history of astronomy and important scientists and discoveries... it is only 20 pages long but funpacked with mid-boggling photographs of our great big universe.

This introduction to astronomy is produced by NASA-SAO Education Forum on the Structure and Evolution of the Universe copyright 2009 by the Smithsonian Institution. The Smithsonian Institution continues to be one of the world's best museums to visit in real-life in Washington, DC, and online on the internet.

Here is the wonderful journey link to beginning your understanding and asking questions about our Universe... The Biggest Big we know about and continue to find more puzzles and answers to our questions about Who we are and where did we come from and where are we the Big View of things in Time and Space...our Universe...

enjoy the journey...


The Evening Sky Map (Northern Hemisphere)

Education Fun,

Here is a link to a very useful astronomy website that lets you download for free
The Evening Sky Map (for the Northern Hemisphere) each month for you to explore,
learn, and enjoy viewing the night sky: the moon, the planets, the constellations of stars,
and deep space star clusters, galaxies, etc.

Find a natural safe dark place (perhaps your backyard or public park etc.) to view the night sky
with family and friends (often a local astronomy club has car-pools to drive to a safe "dark sky area" nearby your home...) with binoculars or shared telescope etc.

The Sky Map you can print for free is very helpful for locating constellations and other celestial objects to view and learn about... just remember that if you are looking at a star, you are looking at something much bigger than our sun and much much farther away: distances in outer space are measured in "light years"...

A light year is the distance light travels in one earth year (365 days)...
and light travels the fastest of most anything in the universe...
186,000 miles per second.
(There is a debate among scientists about the theoretical questions of the ultimate fastest possible speed in the universe... you would have to do a Google search to learn more about this... :-)

To give you an idea of a large distance you are familiar with,  the sun is about 93 million miles away from the earth, so that means that the light from the sun that warms your face and enters your eyes enabling you to see everyday objects and people around you etc.
...takes about 8 minutes to reach your eyes... !!!
   (8 minutes = 8 x 60 seconds = 480 seconds)

When you look up at the sky, especially at night, you are looking at VAST distances in/through/across our universe...
and that also means you are looking back in/through/across VAST time in/through/across our universe : millions of years ago...

So your view of our world, called the planet Earth, is all of a sudden ... E...X...P...A...N...D...E...D...
to something Bigger than BIG...  :-)

The sky that you take-for-granted everyday is actually the biggest "thing" in the universe...
because it is 'connected' or 'part of' the the Entire Universe...

Years ago I came to understand that:  The sky is the biggest "Yes" there is...  :-)

Astronomically... your friend,


Sunday, November 14, 2010

Analysis of a Whole and its Parts: Cool Stuff

Education Fun,

There are two cool picture books I got from the library about understanding how everyday things work
by illustrating their various engineered parts. The books are called: Cool Stuff and Cool Stuff 2.0

The graphix are way cool and the description text is way brief and very informative.
Check them out; here's some pix:

These two books have lots of Cool Stuff and Cool Stuff to learn
about what Engineers do and how they make / (wo-man-ufacture :-) 
the everyday things that we use.

So enjoy your journey and start looking care-fully at some of the Stuff / Things you use everyday
and think about how it was made...

I would also suggest for starters, that you look "close-up" at the products you use everyday,
to find the small print that says what Country it was made in...
Does it say:  Made in USA
                     Made in China
                     Made in Pakistan
                     Made in Mexico
                     ... or somewhere else...???

Happy hunting and learning about Engineering and How Stuff Works...


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

A List of a Whole and its Parts: 61 "Compare and Contrast" Examples

[DRAFT:  61 items]        Nova-Ember: Star & Fire: 6, 2010

   A List of a Whole & its Parts:
   including “Compare and Contrast” examples
   by Allen Berg

1.  pencil v, pen  
2. flashlight v. desk lamp
3. paper clip v. stapler
4. ladder v. staircase
5. nail clipper v Swiss army knife
6. child's bike v. multi-gear bike
7. landline /home phone v. cell phone
8. 12” ruler  v.  12’ tape measure (eg. Lufkin Hi-Viz product)
9. scotch tape roll and dispenser  v.  duct tape roll and dispenser
10. 3-ring binder and paper  v.  spiral-bound notebook
11. scissors  v.  knife
12. wallet v. purse
13. dollar bill v. coin
14. dictionary  v.  yellow pages business directory
15.  hand tool  v. another one
16.  musical instrument  v.  another one
17.  shoe  v. another one
18.  lunch box  v. knapsack
19.  warm jacket  v. another type
20.  hand  v. foot
21.  wall clock  v.  clock radio
22.  calendar (USA)  v. calendar (other country etc.)
23.  flower  v. another one
24.  sandwich  v.  another type (or burrito etc.)
25.  door key and lock  v.  combination lock
26.  a bicycle bell v. a horn
27.  the human eye  v.  eyeglasses
28.  sports equipment  v. another type
29.  skateboard  v.  in-line skates
30.  school chair  v.  home chair
31.  food container  v.  another one
32.  comic strip  v.  comic book (or graphic novel)
33. crossword puzzle v. picture puzzle
34.  board game  v.  outdoor game
35.  a toy  v.  another one
36.  model construction kit  v.  another one
37.  phone bill  v.  tax return
38.  apartment  v.  house
39.  store  v.  another one
40.  newspaper  v.  magazine
41.  school  v.  another (elem-jhs-hs, or public v. private, etc.)
42.  snail mail  v.  email
43.  sports team v. another
44.  book report v. movie review
45.  puppet: hand, rod, marionette
46.  school day v. weekend day
47.  party or celebration v. another
48.  garden v. patio
49.  school map v. road map
50.  music band v. orchestra
51.  library v. gymnasium
52.  website v. another
53.  incandescent light bulb v. fluorescent light bulb
54.  breakfast v. dinner
55.  candy bar v. another
56.  hair style v. another
57.  clothes style v. another
58.  umbrella v. tent
59.  sentence v. paragraph v. essay
60.  textbook v. novel
61.  microscope v. telescope
Et cetera…


Engineering of Everyday Things -- A Lesson Plan

Engineering of Everyday Things -- A Lesson Plan by Allen Berg


howdy Engineers and Imagineers
This is the 3rd page is my series about Engineering Curriculum Resources


The Engineering of Everyday Things: Structure and Function
---The Analysis of a Whole and its Parts.
Lesson Plan by Allen Berg

[Photograph of a ball point pen disassembled: the clear plastic tube of ink, the small inner spring, and the 2 parts of the outer casing with their molded screw connection. ]

I am not incurious;
I like to look at things, care-fully
and understand how they work.
Observation and then description
are important tools of Science.

As you can see from the picture of the pen above,
Things have parts that make up the whole.
In this lesson, you will choose an object
and analyze its structure and function.

1. Name and define the object. (You can check a dictionary.)
The definition of an object is often its purpose.

2. Draw a picture of the object as a whole and as its separate parts.
2a. Take digital photographs of the object as a whole and of its various parts.
2b. Advanced students can use free 3-D software to produce computer-generated 3-Dimensional images. (Google’s “Sketch-Up” etc.)

3. Label each part.
Describe the material each part is made of.

4. Explain the function of each part and how it is related to the
whole object.

5. Look close-up and carefully at the object to find the name of the
country where it is made.

6. Evaluate the object:
a. Does it do the job it is supposed to do?
Rate its performance: poor__ ok__ good__ excellent__ etc.
b. What is the object’s durability?
How long does it last? Can you repair or replace the parts
or do you just throw it away?
c. What is its cost? Is this a “fair value”?
d. Would you recommend using this object? Why or why not?
e. Can you suggest improvements in its design?
List and explain your suggestions.
Provide a visual image(s) of your improved design.

7. Conclusion:
How does this object compare to similar objects, for use?
[Example of an “improved design”: the addition of a soft rubbery fingers grip… Photograph of the “improved” pen]

8. Share your Analysis with other students, family, and friends…
Be proud that you are a Beginning Engineer…

National Geographic Magaine STEM (continued)

National Geographic Magazine Online STEM (continued)

Hi Don and other colleagues:

as promised here is the second link to a fantastic Engineering website:
"Design for the Other 90%" sponsored by the aforementioned Smithsonian
Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum:

Coincidentally, the Museum just concluded a second in this series of exhibitions: "Design for the Other 90%" (it ended in September, 2010...) but I could not find any online links to their collection...
I guess that is still a work-in-progress...

ps: if you go to the National Geographic current link for Big Ideas -
Little Packages and read carefully the one paragraph about the "Infant Warmer", you will find a website link called:
Which I higly recommend because they have a fantastic diagrammatic
explanation of the "Analysis of the Whole and its Parts" of their product... including a new fabric technology (called something like a "Phase Sensor Textile" )

Sincerely yours,
Allen Berg

ps 2: and the "Asthma Device" in the article is made from
"folded paper" !!! at 1/20th the cost of conventional Asthma Devices:
one dollar from paper vs twenty dollars for the other conventional product...

Allen (phineas8888)

National Geographic Magazine: Engineering of Everyday Things

National Geographic magazine online STEM

Hi Don Morgan: Technology and Engineering Colleague,  ...Science, Technology, Engineering, Math teachers group

I am new to this group and a computer newbie, so I will have to make several postings to include the several "Engineering" resources available online... I agree totally with you concerning the real everyday experience we all have with "Engineering" and its products etc.

 First I am going to post a link to the current edition of National Geographic magazine: (November 2010) their "Big Idea / Innovation" section (published every month):
"Big Ideas - Little Packages" pages 24-31.

This is a brief very visually effective 5-page spread about current engineering projects, that are included in the Smithsonian Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum exhibition from 2007:
"Design for the Other 90%" (and currently wonderfully permanently online! --that will be my second post, because I do not yet know how to copy & paste more than one hyper-link at this forum format ...but I will learn... :-)

btw: if you read about the Water Purifying Straw, called "LifeStraw", and go to their website:
They list the Maufacturer of the product, which is a Professional European Engineering Firm, and if you click on their link for the English version "Bochure" of their product you can download the Adobe file --which I highly recommend -- because

It is a real-life Professional Engineering Product Description and Social Environmental Impact Report/Evaluation Example for students to read and view and learn about Engineering "Best Practices" including: graphics, technical writing, research data, tables, scientific journal references,etc.


Then after the second link, I will post my one-page lesson/project outline for "The Engineering of Everyday Things: Structure and Function  -- The Anaysis of a Whole and its Parts"
Then there are a couple of pages of Teacher Resource Lists of
"Compare and Contrast Everyday Things" (Objects)
such as:
1. pencil vs. pen
2. flashlight vs. desk lamp
3. paper clip vs. stapler
4. ladder vs. staircase
5. nail clipper vs. Swiss army knife
6. child's bicycle vs. multi-gear bike
7. landline phone/home phone vs. cell phone
Then there cool books (CoolStuff and CoolStuff 2.0 etc.)
then there are cool website links...
then there are my arts & crafts 3-D geometry sculptures projects
and papermodel crafting websites etc.
to be continued...

I appreciate your collegial collaboration
Allen Berg  (phineas8888 :-)

Friday, November 5, 2010

Astronomy Picture of the Day: the Pleiades Star Cluster

Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD) is a fun daily view of our Universe, with Professional
state-of-the-art Photographs accompanied by brief but very informative text explanations.

Whenever I need  an 'expansive view of things' (to counter-balance some of the stresses, routine here on Earth... I simply look up at our Moon and then some stars from the Constellations...
 (weather permitting :-)

And one of my favorite Celestial views is the Star Cluster called the Pleiades, which is visible simply with your unaided eyes... but if you have binoculars or a low power/wide field-of-view telescope, you're in for a treat: The Jewel Box of the Stars...

You can get more information online from Astronomy magazines and  organizations, such as:

or at your local library, where they would know about local Astronomy Clubs in your community...


Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Paper Mozart Dance: Silent movie at Youtube...

Education Fun:

The previous post was about a Master Paperfolder who uses USA one dollar paper money bills
to fold and create stunning miniature sculptures.  I am an amateur papercrafter with little background in the specialty of Origami, but I have always loved working with paper for drawing and model-building etc.

I recently posted my paper cutout card of a traditional folkart design of a Tree of Life and Light.
The original card is 9"x12", so for color copying on standard 8 1/2" x 11" cardstock, I had to reduce the size for the copy machine.  This led to a narrow white border area on all four sides of the dozen prints I made.  I used an x-acto knife to cut (or "trim") these borders so that the purple background became the exact edge of the card, with no extra margin of the white border.  I cut these pieces precisely using a metal ruler to guide my knife. Some very thin slivers of white 'pearlescent' paper remnants resulted with curlicue spirals... I was about to toss them in the waste basket, as remnants, but for a fortunate moment before doing so, they caught my eye with "artistic possibilities"... 

So I now have a brief (2 1/2 minute) youtube video (silent movie clip) of their expressive forms...
to share with you...

I titled the video "Paper Mozart Dance" because the photographs I composed made me think and hear  Mozart's romantic slow Andante's for "Piano Concerto K467" and "Flute and Harp Concerto K299"...

But I decided to keep it pure and simple, and soundless/silent, so that you the viewers could hear your own music or choice of music...

Here is the youtube video link: