Democratech’s Sprout Pencil Becomes A Plant Instead Of Trash.

When the Sprout pencil becomes an unusable nub, plant it in your garden instead of the garbage. That’s because it has a seed enclosed in its end-cap that when planted, can grow into an herb (the basil variety), flower or vegetable. Simple idea that with the help of their Kickstarter funds, Democratech will hopefully sell at a price close to standard pencils.

I first heard about the Sprout pencil back in August 2012. It seemed like a “gimmicky for good” idea and moved on. Then I watched the Kickstarter video and I have to make one recommendation: only plant the Sprout pencils in a pot. If you plant a dozen of these in a garden, pointed up, you are unintentionally creating a booby-trap similar to what you’d in see in a movie like Platoon or even Home Alone. No more barefoot walks in the garden.

And while I’m on the subject of pencils – has anyone noticed how low-quality they’ve become? Is it the wood or the lead/graphite? Maybe I should avoid the 20 for $1 deals from the office stores because after sharpening, I may end up with 10 usable pencils.

More than likely, the Sprout will sell at a premium over standard pencils so expectantly, they’ll be of higher quality. If they turn out to be inexpensive and low-quality, at least I’ll get 10 future plants immediately from my 20 pack. [Treehugger]


Son-X Octavia Swing-Set Accessory: Just Because It’s Solar Doesn’t Mean It’s A Good Idea.

Son-X Octavia Swing AccessorySon-X’s solar-powered Octavia attaches to a kid’s playground swing chain/rope and either plays applause, a beat or an orchestra sound based on how high the ‘swinger’ goes. From Son-X’s website:

“After a certain time on the swing and/or when the child reaches a certain height he or she is rewarded with a sound experience. When reaching next level another sound will be triggered.”

So the Octavia is basically a swing set personal trainer that challenges the rider to go higher and rewards them with sound. It might not be a good idea to push kids to go higher on the swing but it could just be me hovering again.

So the Octavia inspired me to come up with a couple other ideas, all solar-powered, that are designed to encourage a playground activity:

  1. Brutus – based on the volume of the wearer’s voice and word choices, the Brutus will start by offering a high-five and transition to an imaginary chest bump based on successful playground bullying.
  2. Agrippa – aka Lose Your A’Grip’pa. Goads kids to unsafely climb the monkey bars. Reaching the top and jumping (or falling), the Agrippa will congratulate the wearer and make the 911 call.
  3. Claudius – simple: run into walls, playground structures or other kids and Claudius will first announce “Whoops! I’m a big Claude.” Increasing the force/speed of impact and the Claudius will reward the wearer with a Nelson, from the Simpsons, “HA HA!”

And oh, the Octavia sells for $625. [Gizmodo]


Final Post On Homemade Valentine’s Day Cards: Elementary School Edition

Happy Valentine’s Day! As with every holiday, we pulled through it with some last minute heroics. We didn’t buy the pre-packaged cards this year and my kids were able to participate in the design of their classroom Valentines. I have to come clean, I’m definitely not one of those parents who patiently works with their kids on baking or craft projects; I’m skilled at impatiently not-working on projects with my kids. But making the Valentine’s cards from scratch was easy and my kids had fun making it their own. Here are their final Valentine’s cards:

Spongie Brad No-Pants Valentines CardSpongie Brad No-Pants Valentines Card – Didn’t want to infringe on any copyrights so we went the knock-off route. Harry just filled in the blanks with his classmate’s name and a word to describe them (ie funny, nice, crazy etc.). Had to slip in a plug for the Burj Khalifa too. BTW: did you know the Burj Khalifa is the tallest building in the world at 2,651 feet? I hear it almost everyday.

You're A Treat Card You’re A Treat Card – So my daughter did go with the You’re a treat card with a slight modification. She added the “JK” (Just Kidding) because she’s too nice to not give something. She also insisted on not including or writing her name on the card just in case. I think she’ll be an attorney.

Hug It Forward Builds Guatemala School Using Empties And Not Bricks

School in Guatemala Built from plastic bottles - Hug It Forward.Hug It Forward, a non-profit group based in Guatemala, has just built a new school for less than $10,000 by using empty plastic bottles as construction material. It’s one of 12 schools built by Hug it Forward using collected plastic bottles and some low-technology developed by PureVida. From Good:

The plastic bottles are stuffed with trash, tucked between supportive chicken wire, and coated in layers of concrete to form walls between the framing. The bottles make up the insulation, while more structurally sound materials like wood posts are used for the framing.

By collecting the empty plastic bottles that go into the building of their school, the kids will not only get an education but they’ll also get a lesson in Jubbling.
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