Create Mandala Art with Your Words

Create your own mandala-style word art

I’m a big fan of words, letters, and interesting patterns, so I was excited to find this cool mandala word art generator! You can type in some letters, use the sliders to adjust the size and overlap of the characters, and view, share, or save your creation in seconds!

Mandala-style "Todd"
Mandala-style “Todd”

I tried a few different words and decided I like shorter words better, because I can still kind of see what letters are in the finished product. If you want to use a longer message and create something very mysterious, that would also be cool. You could hide a secret mantra or message in your mandala, and nobody would ever know what it means, besides you.

Go try it at Mandific and let me know what you come up with! I’d love to see your creations, whether they are big and clear, or cryptic and complicated.

Mandala-style "sunshine"
Mandala-style “sunshine”

FIRST Robotics Competition 2015

Sport for the Mind™

The FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) 2015 world robotics competition was held April 22-25 in St. Louis, where more than 17,000 students from around the globe competed in the in world’s largest robotics celebration. The exciting conclusion had a crowd of more than 40,000 fans cheering the winning teams from League City, Texas, and Davis, Clovis, and Palmdale, California.

FIRST Robotics Championship 2015
FIRST Robotics Championship 2015

What is FIRST?

The FIRST championship is the culmination of a season of robotics engineering, building, and competitions for kids (ages 6 – 18) from more than 30 countries. Boys and girls around the world work with mentors and professional engineers to build customized robots and test them in regional team competitions.

Inspiring Kids in STEM

FIRST teams have spirit!
FIRST teams have spirit!
FIRST founder, Dean Kamen:

Our mission is to show students of every age that science, technology, and problem-solving are not only fun and rewarding, but are proven paths to successful careers and a bright future for us all.

When you see the FIRST teams collaborating, solving problems, and cheering together, you can’t dispute the value of this program in the lives of these kids. Besides giving them opportunities to learn and apply scientific principles, they also gain experience in teamwork, public presentation, and sportsmanship. No matter what professional field they end up choosing, those skills are invaluable.

Helping Bridge the Gender Gap in STEM

Not only are girls getting involved in co-ed robotics teams, they are leading their teams, encouraging their friends to get involved, and even comprising all-girl teams.

Learn More about FIRST

Visit US First
Follow FIRST on Facebook or Twitter
Learn how to become a FIRST volunteer/mentor

Bedtime Math 3 – Add some math fun to your bedtime stories!

Bedtime Math 3
Bedtime Math 3

My family has enjoyed the first two volumes of Bedtime Math, by Laura Overdeck. When I was offered a chance to review Bedtime Math 3: The Truth Comes Out, we were very excited!

If you aren’t familiar with the Bedtime Math series, here’s a quick introduction.

Author Laura Overdeck says, “We want kids to feel about math the way they feel about dessert after dinner.”

Our mission: to make math a fun part of kids’ everyday lives. When is the last time you gave your child a math problem just for fun? Yesterday? Last year? Maybe never? We all know it’s wonderful to read bedtime stories to kids, but the question remains–what about doing math? Math has a negative association in our culture and many Americans are uncomfortable and even fearful of math and numbers. But Bedtime Math is here to change all that.

Bedtime Math stories feature different difficulty levels, so kids of varying ages — and parents — can participate in the math fun.

Getting kids to enjoy math as much as dessert may seem impossible, but wait until you try Bedtime Math with your kids. Give it a try and give math a chance! You might be pleasantly surprised at their reactions!

Why learn math? (Fox Trot comic)
Why learn math? (Fox Trot comic)

R2D2 Finds Love

This short film is adorable! It’s a story about our favorite little droid, R2-D2, looking for love in San Francisco and Berkeley. He falls hard for a quiet mailbox and tries to woo her… Watch to find out how the story ends.

If you’re curious about how “Artoo In Love” was made, check out the official project site: Writer/Director Evan Atherton.

International Tabletop Day is April 11

Do you need a reason to play more games? Break out your favorite tabletop games and celebrate on April 11, 2015! It’s International Tabletop Day!

International Tabletop Day was created three years ago, as a way to celebrate and encourage tabletop (board games, card games, etc.) gaming with friends and family. It’s a perfect opportunity to break out an old favorite game, or discover a new one. Get the kids involved, and show them how to have fun without a screen!

Tabletop Day poster
Tabletop Day poster
If you want to meet up with some new tabletop friends, try the event finder feature at Nothing happening in your area? Start your own Tabletop Day event!

For more information on International Tabletop Day, visit

My family enjoys the classic UNO, Munchkin, and Apples to Apples. Do you have suggestions for some fun tabletop games? Let us know!

World Water Day Giveaway

The UN first designated March 22 as World Water Day in 1993, and fifteen years later, it’s still important to spread the word about clean water access! To help share World Water Day, leave a comment on this post and you’ll have a chance to win a beautiful scarf and umbrella from World Vision!

First, watch this video! Matt Damon (co-founder of explains some important stuff about water and toilets.

Why worry about clean water? Have some facts!

  • Water is essential to life. The human body is 50-65% water. A newborn baby is 78% water.
  • The World Health Organization recommends at least 7.5 liters of water per person per day, and that minimum doesn’t include water for hygiene and sanitation.
  • Each American uses about 7500 liters of water per day.
  • In developing nations, women and girls spend 25% of each day gathering water for their families.
  • Handwashing is one of the best ways to remove germs and prevent illness and disease. (Up to one trillion germs can live in one gram of poop.)
  • Every minute, a child dies from a water-related disease.

(facts from World Water Day site)

Water (World Vision)
Water (World Vision)

How you can help with World Water Day

One of the World Water Day partners is World Vision, and they have a great list of things to do for World Water Day. Of course, you can come up with your own ways to spread clean water awareness, and help with local water conservation efforts, too. This year’s specific World Water Day theme is “Water and Sustainable Development,” so you can also learn and talk about #water #sustainability #wateris and #waternow.

  • Start with a tweet: 22 March is #WorldWaterDay. Use #WaterIs to share messages about #Water & #Sustainability @UN-Water
  • Organize an event, such as a walk or run. One middle school is hosting a 1 mile barefoot walk to raise money and awareness of how hard it is for some people to find and gather water every day.
  • Comment for a chance to win!
    Comment for a chance to win scarf!
  • Give clean water by donating money. You could try or worldvision, or find a local organization that you can help by volunteering.
  • Take shorter showers. It may not seem important, but the average 5 minute American shower uses more water than an average person in a developing country gets all day.
  • Print and share some World Water Day posters from UN Water. There are several to choose from here.

Whatever you decide to do, even if it’s just talking about the need for clean water, do something. Water is life! World Water Day is March 22.

Leave a comment below for a chance to win this beautiful scarf (normally $95) and an umbrella! (Scarf and umbrella will be provided and shipped by World Vision.)

Today is World Book Day!

Happy “World Book Day,” my fellow geeks, nerds, and bookworms! To observe the 18th annual World Book Day (March 5, 2015), you might choose to read a book, tell a story, make a donation to a library, or even try writing a book of your own. If you want more ideas, visit the official World Book Day site.

In the meantime, check out this cool project! Called “Arma De Instruccion Masiva,” (ADIM) or “Weapon of Mass Instruction,” built by artist Raul Lemesoff, it’s a former military vehicle, which has been remade into a mobile library.

Raul Lemesoff / ADIM mobile library
Raul Lemesoff / ADIM mobile library

The official ADIM site describes the project like this.

“The weapon of mass instruction is a mobile sculpture that carries books and gift books. The ability to transport allows to receive donations from anywhere and bring them to the far corners of Argentina and the continent…”

“The ADIM is the sculpture, also a street intervention, a unique piece of art, protest, encouragement, an image from another dimension…”

ADIM mobile library
ADIM mobile library

The ADIM travels Argentina and South America, bringing books to unexpected places, to promote reading and encourage creativity. The driver gifts books and accepts donations along the way.

Happy World Book Day!

More information?