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I spent Wednesday cleaning with the kids, doing some long overdue deep cleaning of the porch myself mostly while the kids put the living room and dining room back together. When that was done, Verdi put together his new motorized Lego set, Bear began Tuck Everlasting and Stephenson’s Reamde (which Verdi is still working on), Terran read a few picture books, Verdi set up our Wii to stream videos from Amazon Prime to our TV (which is cheaper than Netflix by over a hundred bucks, huzzah!), and all three of them worked on learning a new video game that Verdi just bought called Faster Than Light. It’s a very realistic (real time, real difficulty) space game in which you are the captain of the ship; it has won some awards. The kids had friends over briefly and ran through the taller-than-children weeds in the backyard chasing cats, and at one point I found Bear and Terran having a conversation about game development while working the elliptical in their unique way. Over dinner we talked about what an Arduino is, occasioned by Verdi’s new kit (for his Sunday class) arriving, and then what the difference is between electronics, robotics, mechanics, programming and mechatronics, and exactly what a computer is. Bear declared that statistics is his favorite math and we talked about jobs in sociology.

a picture of the shelf with the objects on topAfter dinner I crashed in my armchair with some chai and noticed a new display on top of the shelf that houses my father’s books about antique woodworking. Someone had stacked up the boxes for the Pi, MakeyMakey, SparkFun Arduino Inventors Kit, and MakerShed Ultimate Microcontroller Kit next to the soldering iron and a framed portrait of Fred Gauss. Apparently I’ve been making enticing activity-centers for so long that this is the way my kids think decorating works.Image

(This is what is in the frame. My camera stinks.)

Verdi’s proposal for the music credit NYS says he needs to do is to create a musical instrument. We tossed around the idea of using the Arduino and the Pi before settling on the brilliance of using the MakeyMakey. We then Googled that. Turns out they’re doing it at NYU. Verdi may use some of their ideas. I am psyched about the conductive paint; I wonder if I could get the little boys in on creating painted technomusic instruments. Even though I am eager for Verdi to finish his Rube Goldberg lemonade stand, and antsy about him devoting time to other projects before that’s done, I’m excited to see what he comes up with for a musical instrument.

We ended the day with a game of Little Dead Riding Hood, new to the boys. Verdi turns out to be a scarily efficient huntsman of zombie wolves. The game allows players to rearrange the board to suit them (to create a path to Grandmother’s House) and that element was just enough like chess that Verdi was on it. We all really like this game and have played it three times now, ignoring the other four new games (Munchin Axe Cop, Bushido, Dawn Under and Anasazi) that Robin and I got for our birthdays. Maybe I’ll get the kids into a game of Dawn Under if Verdi finishes his Lego Technic kit today.