Simon has discovered this new tool called SAM https://www.samlabs.com and has been studying their free app for hours, creating a variety of circuits online and trying to write code. He would really like to get the actual SAM modules to go with the app, so we are thinking of what we could sell to pay for them as they are quite pricy. The idea is similar to LittleBits except that the SAM modules are all wireless (can be charged via USB) and connect to your computer via Bluetooth (one module connects to the internet). The good news is that one can learn a whole lot by using just the app alone (the virtual modules).
Tonight a little miracle happened. We have finally managed to see Saturn! And Mars! All thanks to a very special man, Robert Matheus of the Antwerp observatory Urania. Robert has only met us twice, I don’t even think he remembers our names. He felt sorry for Simon that he didn’t manage to see Saturn at the last viewing night at the observatory (it was too cloudy), so he asked for our e-mail and said he would personally notify us once Saturn could be seen again. Because if we wait until another public viewing night next month it will be too late, Saturn won’t be easy to observe until 2023. And tonight Robert biked to central Antwerp for almost one hour, with a large telescope, in the darkness, for free. He didn’t even want to have the bottle of wine I brought him as a thank-you token. He spent nearly two hours with us on the roof of the MAS tower, then dismantled his telescope and biked back home for another hour. Saturn was beautiful. But it was even more beautiful to have seen that this planet, predominately inhabited by humans who think of Simon as too much extra work, is also inhabited by this other rare human species. The telescope survived, too!
This one is such a joy to see, especially considering Simon has learned it within a week.
In the following video Simon plays a piece composed by a 9 year old blind prodigy (grown up by now).
Simon’s also been practicing Puccini and Beethoven. His wonderful teacher tries to make it clear to him how much logic and math there is hiding behind the temperamental piano chords and how exact the pianist must be. He loves chatting with her about music theory.
It’s been a great weekend with our Amsterdam friends. We visited two households and at both Simon was given workshops by advanced users of synth software and hardware. He was allowed to get creative on several synthesizers, one of them connected to Logic, and generally had a blast!
In this video Simon shares his idea on the use of the EMG SpikerBox module (from the LittleBits Bit Lab) that detects the electrical activity of human muscles non-invasively using simple skin surface electrodes. EMGs can be recorded from large muscles, or individual motor action potentials ( “spikes”) from smaller ones. Simon suggests using the EMG module as an exercising aid.
We have also watched the EMG video tutorial to learn more about how human muscles work and looked triceps and biceps up in the encyclopedia. Simon was excited to hear that our movements are also guided by electric impulses!
During math class Friday, calculating the resistance in Ohms.
Simon’s been doing a whole lot of writing today. First, a birthday letter for Dad. And then Mandarin characters. Those fingers must be aching now!
Simon made this chart tonight to be able to program an LED to change colours. He says he calculated all the values himself, the 255 bits being the max.
Together we decided this will make a perfect gift for Daddy’s birthday tomorrow.
Simon is fascinated by the prospective to develop his own hardware. This video is just a tiny piece of a “lecture” on the LittleBits proto modules and breadboard he gave me yesterday at the park.
Simon was experimenting with changing sound frequency using infrared light today. The light sensor in his electric circuit reacts to any light, including infrared light.
Different remote controls resulted in different output: