Funding Friday: Hack Your Notebook

I backed this project by AVC community member David Cole earlier this week.

#hacking education

Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    You overslept?

    1. sigmaalgebra

      Naw, he was deep in the canyons of NYC doing some really big financial deals!!! Not necessarily a joke or exaggeration!

      1. JimHirshfield

        You’ve been tracking Fred?

        1. sigmaalgebra

          Naw, I just “recognize the lion by his paw” and that, on a Citi bicycle, he’s an NYC canyon big deal kind’a guy! “A billion here, a billion there, and after a while it adds up to real money”!Besides, while he blogs and plays with gadgets and toy cars, look at who he has doing all the real work:A string of really bright, creative, articulate, really fast learning, great at understanding the organization right away and fitting in, outgoing, great smiles, great social talents and skills, pretty young women!!!!!Gee, with staff like that, Wall Street is awash in guys who’d pay $10,000 a day just to sit in a distant corner of the USV offices, silent, and watch, just watch those smiles and bouncing pony tails, then pay for catered fancy lunches and put on an apron and serve, and Fred gets PAID for being there and doesn’t have to serve!! Nice work if can get it!And who was that guy last week on a Citi bicycle herding a flock of unicorns down Wall Street?I’m learning!!! If my startup works, then the lunches are from where, Le Cirque??? Once I took my wife to Lutèce — guess Soltner has retired by now! So, Le Cirque it will have to be!!And, gotta find where Fred gets those staff resumes, Vassar, Mrs. Porter’s School, Radcliffe, …, a spy at the Miss America organization????I’m an American male: Show me pictures of smart, pretty young women, and I will look! Even if the pictures are small — I have a built-in peripheral processor, asynchronously and autonomously does accurate classifications in less than a millisecond, 500 yards away, in the dark, through fog and rain!!! Just natural talent I guess!! But, got a LOT of “training data” when I was a B-school prof in Ohio!!!

      2. jason wright

        he doesn’t do big financial deals (it’s all squirrelled away under his mattress).

  2. sigmaalgebra

    DIY microcontrollers! WOW!I’ve wanted to build one as a controller for a constant temperature water bath for making really good beef stew from really tough, lean beef!! Part of the challenge is the temperature probe. But a good PDF file with parts, their properties, and sources would be terrific!For another such project, I’ve wanted to build a water distiller — get the CaCO3, etc. to heck out of my drinking water. So, again I need a microcontroller.Of course, quickly control is a HUGE subject in applied math, from classic feedback control, to PID controllers, as at…A proportional–integral–derivative controller (PID controller or three term controller) is a control loop feedback mechanism widely used in industrial control systems and a variety of other applications requiring continuously modulated deterministic optimal controllers for, say, minimum cost, minimum fuel, minimum time (e.g., how to climb, cruise, and descend an airplane at FedEx), if you will, back to Newton’s solution to the Brachistochrone problem, e.g., as at…to the old calculus of variations and, say, deterministic optimal controlE. B. Lee and L. Markus, Foundations of Optimal Control Theory, ISBN 0471-52263-5, John Wiley & Sons.Michael Athans and Peter L. Falb, Optimal Control: An Introduction to the Theory and Its Applications, McGraw-Hill Book Company.and stochastic optimal controlWendell H. Fleming and Raymond W. Rishel, Deterministic and Stochastic Optimal Control, ISBN 0-387-90155-8, Springer-Verlag.E. B. Dynkin and A. A. Yushkevich, Controlled Markov Processes, ISBN 0-387-90387-9, times said by some serious people other than me to be necessarily for all time the unique, best approach to intelligence in the universe — needs some context and a few assumptions for this claim! At least this claim is much better than what the computer science, data science, machine learning, artificial intelligence communities are doing now! E.g., a good case of stochastic optimal control will, intuitively, look wise, prudent, brilliant, prescient, beyond belief, etc.!!! :-)!! Yes, such applied math is what should do if had a lot of data that sometimes in practice won’t have!Uh, in the math, can always say it’s a controlled Markov process: Sometimes the state space dimensionalty is nicely small and other times, quickly way too big! In practice, we look for the smaller ones!When I was a grad student, I started to give a seminar on optimal control theory to a prof and listed some of the above with much more as basic references, and somehow the prof didn’t show after my first lecture, really on a C. Carathéodory result in ordinary differential equations!Uh, I never had a course in optimal control theory — self taught and that sort of stuff!!!!There is a really, really cute connection between discrete time stochastic optimal control and Excel, etc. spreadsheets. That way could input problems to keep a whole cloud server farm busy for some hours!!! The new computer IBM is installing at Oak Ridge would also be nice to have. Yes, there’s a startup opportunity here, but the one I’m doing is much easier to do and, if people like it, much more valuable. Recently I was pleased to notice that the Princeton department of Operations Research and Financial Engineering is taking practical applications of discrete stochastic optimal control very seriously with some good results!Uh, disclosure: My Ph.D. dissertation was in stochastic optimal control! Yup, never had a course; was self taught in the prerequisites and then did the research independently. Fun stuff!Yes, it’s easy to suspect that the parts bins of dual inline packages has some really cute parts, potentially quite useful, and nearly dirt cheap, and rapidly getting more complicated, useful, and cheap! Some of the parts are analog and some, digital. Might be able to put together a radio receiver based on a fast Fourier transform chip for the tuning! Could do some cute phased array beam forming, i.e., spacial multiplexing.Generally one goal of such a project could be to get the students past bench work with wire cutters and soldering irons and into some relevant applied math. For the future, clearly, bluntly, the key stuff is not the dual inline packages, the soldering irons, or the computer science but the math.

    1. David Cole

      You’ve got a semester’s worth of thinking and practice in this post. 🙂 Love it. There’s a quote from Jon Bruner, a former O’Reilly person (Solid conference/IoT podcast) that motivates me. It goes like this: “Ten years ago building something as simple as a networked thermometer required some understanding of elecrical engineering. Now it’s a Saturday afternoon project for a beginner.” The world is a buildable, constructible place for everyone now. Thx for the detail.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        “Ten years ago building something as simple as a networked thermometer required some understanding of elecrical engineering. Now it’s a Saturday afternoon project for a beginner.” The world is a buildable, constructible place for everyone now. Yes, I got so excited by just that point that I only implied it and neglected to make it clear. You have made the point clear; in part so did the project Fred supported.

        1. David Cole

          It’s a really big idea. And details in the post make it so clear — and important — why we want to have engaging complex experiences that are teachable and motivating. We’re doing this work to connect kids to the world. See Open Data/Open Minds (… fora look at where we’re taking it — with the Hack Your Notebook project as the springboard. Thanks for your comment. I appreciate it.–*KICKSTARTER thru June 29 – Hack Your Notebook <https:“” projects=”” hackyournotebook=”” hack-your-notebook-paper-meets-electronics=””>* *–*D A V I D C O L E | 4 1 5 . 8 7 1 . 9 9 9 8 |*@sfnexmap <https:”” sfnexmap=””> | <http:“”>*Building Future-ready Teachers and Learners

  3. Rob Larson

    Was beginning to worry something happened to you!

    1. jason wright

      is it better to have it and not need it, or is it better to need it and not have it?which circumstance stimulates the mind more i wonder?

  4. Blue

    I really hope the solder used by the students (anybody, actually) is lead-free solder! Lead poisoning (absorbed through skin from handling solder and breathing it in the fumes rising from the melted flux) can cause a wide range of neurological problems, as I believe I have discovered the hard way (loss of hearing, memory, smell, and other difficulties my brain now suffers from). I was 10 when I began soldering, and no one cautioned me way back then. Nor did they later in my work as an electronics technician, and then as an engineer…

    1. David Cole

      Lead-free is the way to go for all the reasons you describe. Engineers we work with prefer the standard solder and good use of fans and lots of hand-washing. When educators do this with kids or other teachers it’s always lead-free. For a look at how this goes, see this situation — with lead-free solder — at UC Berkeley’s Invention Lab.

      1. Blue

        David, you made my day, both with your reassurance in their use of lead-free solder, plus seeing the video with girls of color doing the things I used to do (but back then it was only us white guys)! I love seeing how things are changing. Good luck with all your efforts 🙂

        1. David Cole

          Thanks, BLUE!Your comment and the details it revealed made my day. Glad the video made you smile. If felt the same way when I shot it on my phone. Great to see young people engaged, especially young girls of color.Indulge me here when I say, “Consider a pledge or donation!” 🙂 Send the stuff to your favorite library, for example. Books 1 & 2 in the Educator Pack will go a long way towards getting people deputized and excited. Thanks for your appreciation and your comments.–*KICKSTARTER thru June 29 – Hack Your Notebook <https:“” projects=”” hackyournotebook=”” hack-your-notebook-paper-meets-electronics=””>* *–*D A V I D C O L E | 4 1 5 . 8 7 1 . 9 9 9 8 |*@sfnexmap <https:”” sfnexmap=””> | <http:“”>*Building Future-ready Teachers and Learners

  5. David Cole

    Thanks again to Fred for sharing this project. The Kickstarter for Hack Your Notebook is a great introduction to storytelling with paper and electronics; and it’s the onboarding experience for connecting public data to paper craft – a civic engagement experience for teaching and learning. The mission of our org, NEXMAP, reads like this:”NEXMAP builds future-ready teachers and learners at the intersection literacy, technology, craft, and open data. Our work champions transformational hands-on learning, introductory electronics, and civic engagement, allowing learners to explore circuit craft as a scaffold for using local data to build essential literacies that connect them to each other and their communities.Focused on leadership development and the use of public data as part of an emerging civic infrastructure for teaching and learning, Hack Your Notebook and Open Data/Open Minds present paper and electronics as a learning platform for educators in and out-of-school that targets engineering, storytelling, physical computing, and data literacy.”Between the campaign URL and our Open Data/Open Minds project (…, you can see our roadmap. I’m grateful for any and all pickup as we work on these projects and build the community around them.Thanks to all. Check out the video, read the storyline, consider a pledge! and please share widely.Gratefully.

  6. jason wright

    does this work with Moleskine notebooks?Coleskine, in the game.

    1. David Cole

      Hi Jason, you sure can.That’s the point of the project really: use the booklets to learn about the possibilities for exploring electronics on paper, do it anywhere, in any format, take advantage of our familiarity with the notebook format and paper as a flexible, low-cost material for communication, construction, design, expressive doodling, formal documentation…you name it.Check out this some of the recent twitter posts on @sfnexmap for some pics of the trusted notebook in action. See the three posts on this thread to educators in Finland; others in the feed as well:…Coleskine, in the game, for sure. ;0

      1. jason wright

        thumbs up. good luck.

  7. David Cole

    Since the Funding Friday post, has held the #5 position in the campaign, $1210 of $19571 as of this morning.We’re approaching the midway mark with $5K to go. I want to say thank you to the AVC community for the support. As we head into the second half of the campaign, we’ll be sharing a few more reward categories and promoting the “Backers Choose” idea as a donation model.We’ve created a web form for post-campaign surveying that will let you assign pledges to different recipients and shipping addresses. As a learning org with the mission of training educators, we know this will be a powerful way to create more impact and get the materials to people and institutions that don’t have the resources to provide this kind of hands-on experience to their kids, communities, membership.Think of your local library, school or teacher, an after-school program… I’ll share more on this as it moves forward. And if you donate you’ll get the updates. 😉 Again, thanks for the support. It’s energizing.See below for a screenshot from today’s dashboard on Kickstarter. https://uploads.disquscdn.c… dashboard.

    1. David Cole

      Related: a friend just sent me this NYtimes review. It’s relevant to a lot of things that circulate here and elsewhere in the dialogues on tech and its impact. The opening about Silicon Valley execs sending their kids to learn with materials and not only with screens has reached meme-level messaging; yet it’s a compelling picture of what it means to be in engaged in the world. There are some similarities to what Hack Your Notebook is doing. Good read:

  8. David Cole

    I put this out as a Kickstarter update today. For the people who heard about this project here and clicked through from — $1,345 of you — thanks so much. ______Quick update to say THANK YOU!!! We’re over the moon with this news, coming with another 10 days to increase the reach for Hack Your Notebook.Of the 291 backers so far 86 of you have pledged $3,195 for the Individual Kit Books 1+2; 197 of you have pledged, $16,854 for the full set Books 1-4. We’ve received $1330 in the no reward category. Educator Packs, two classroom kits and a group of Art Card packages account for the rest.You and Kickstarter are doing for this project what Kickstarter does best: supporting a cause and creating a network powered by individuals.What’s next? With 10 days to go, watch for updates later today with detail on ways to maximize your impact on this work — by hosting learning parties and sending materials to people and groups who don’t have the means to support the work themselves.Recall the voiceover in the video — we’re a non-profit leadership development organization. We are in the teaching-people-to-fish business. One measure of success for us will be how many people these booklets reach. We’re at 291 right now.Lets see where this can go.Thank you, backers. This is all you.https://uploads.disquscdn.c