Small Streams

Pollock’s Toy Museum
January 26, 2014, 5:45 am
Filed under: art, education, eutechnics, technology, thinking, Tourism, toys | Tags:


Pollock’s toy museum has been a destination for us since we moved to London. How things make us think has been a hobby horse of mine for the past couple of years. So I was happy that Liz and I could take a short excursion to Central London and walk amidst the toys.

The museum is housed in, well, a house, or at least an “up and down” with not too many conversions. The downstairs holds the toy shop and the lobby, and the staircases and the upper floors display the dolls, dollhouses, games, etc.

Some of my fascinations are construction toys …

20140126-105510.jpg viewing toys and …

20140126-105634.jpg mathematical instruments.



I also found the war games interesting. Never too early to build a distaste for the kaiser.

Of course, the reason for Pollock’s being is the toy theatre. There must have been a hundred of them.


They also had some interesting specimen boxes.



If you ever want to get the imaginative juices flowing or at least cop some ideas for your doll house, I highly suggest it.

The Gift of Science
December 6, 2013, 3:30 am
Filed under: business, education, math, mind, technology | Tags: , ,


I saw this lava lamp display at the V&A’s Museum of Science. Honest to Pete, I think there should be a whole room devoted to a lava lamp display. Who doesn’t love lava lamps? That and oil and glycerin on a projector, the psychedelic “wet show.” Maybe some polka dots and mirrors like the Mattress Factory‘s Yayoi Kusama installation.

The trick would be to create a room that excited the senses but didn’t make you physically ill.

If there’s any problem I have with lava lamps, it’s that science gift shops devote so much shelf space to them. Many science museums’ gift shops concentrate on the “ooh, shiny” distractions rather than objects that indulge people’s (not just children’s) love of the methods of science. I have to admit that people who run museum gift shops know more about what sells and what sells the experience.

If you’re just out for a happy trip, you don’t want to be scolded into homework at the end. No one likes to take a trip and bring home a memento that reminds them that they are not expanding their minds enough. So I really can’t advocate for a gift pack of Euclid’s Elements — though there are some great geometry puzzles that would make great gifts. The Science Museum does have a great book section and a lomography section and Technology Will Save Us shelves. When I was there last, they had someone demonstrating paper gliders.

I don’t expect science museums to check their impulse to cater to their audience any time soon. I just hope they can do more to indulge people’s desire to think about things. I will now stop ranting and leave you with the instructions for making your own lava lamp.

October 24, 2012, 3:51 pm
Filed under: education, math | Tags: , ,

Not unrelated to the Calcubot is the nomogram.


Pittsburgh Mini Maker Faire
June 24, 2012, 8:53 am
Filed under: education, math, Uncategorized | Tags:

I will be applying to be an exhibit to Pittsburgh’s Mini Maker Faire. I hope you are, too. Here’s

a site that tells you how to make an interactive exhibit

20120624-141639.jpgMore evidence of my hackery, Calcubot Jr. I’m going to have to make measurements soon. Will have to go to school on Belsey’s Instructable.

Slide Rules
January 21, 2012, 8:43 am
Filed under: education, math, thinking | Tags: ,

Went to hear Doug present on how to use a slide rule at HackPgh last night. 20120121-084355.jpg

I found out how to use the scales for finding squares, square roots, cubes and cubed roots. I also learned that with the bigger slide rules there is no end of exponentiation.

I’m most interested in slide rules with elliptical functions. Pictured is a specialty slide rule for doing duct work.

My Ignorance
January 15, 2012, 10:42 pm
Filed under: education, observer, technology, thinking, work

Heard this on Eames:The Architect and The Painter

“You sell your expertise, you have a limited repertoire; you sell your ignorance, it’s an unlimited repertoire.” — Richard Saul Wurman

My Other Vehicle Serves Data
January 1, 2012, 9:35 am
Filed under: education, eutechnics, research, technology, thinking | Tags:

The hula hoop is not a meme. . . [it’s] a meme vehicle. — James Gleick, The Information


If things make us think, the Digicomp is an infectious way to get us to think about numbers and computing.

Boingboing just posted a story on the Digicomp emulator. I hope to check it out soon.

The Missing Linkage
December 20, 2011, 3:54 pm
Filed under: education, math | Tags:


This is a picture of Consul, the Educated Monkey. There’s a backstory about an actual monkey at the turn of the last century making a big hit in the salons of Europe. I’m not as interested in that as the actual mechanics. Here’s my second or third attempt:


The position of the numbers has something to do with the angle of the links. I’ll be studying the monkey a little more, so I can make an addition and other tables to insert.

I’m also playing with my autocad app and drew this:


Coroplast Scale
December 4, 2011, 12:40 pm
Filed under: awareness, education, eutechnics | Tags:

I’m almost where I want to be conceptually with this scale. The only materials necessary are the plastic rivets and the coroplast. The coroplast, as you can see, has been recycled. It took me a while to figure out that making slots in the platform would work. The two bottom rivets are actually unnecessary.

I will measure the next iteration more carefully to insure its sensitivity (decrease its tolerance?). I’m also going to see if I can make a coroplast bowl, and how to make a better bearing than just a plain old rivet.

20111204-122755.jpgThe other thing I want to look at is a $2 handheld Chinese scale, which is somewhat similar to my postage scale.


Percent Wheel Chart
November 6, 2011, 1:42 pm
Filed under: education, math | Tags:

This is my first attempt at making a percent wheel chart from paperboard.

I keep making mistakes, so I keep referring to Make Magazine Phillip Torrone’s article on becoming or not becoming an expert.