Ozobot Bit

ozobot bit
Surely you remember Ozobot, the Major Fun award-winning robot that you program with colored lines and can play with on paper or on your tablet (with free, downloadable Major Fun Awardgames even)?

Now. you lucky people, there’s Ozobot Bit – smaller, with all the same museum-ready packaging and computer-enhanced abilities to follow paths that you draw with colored markers on a piece of paper or electronically on your tablet, and more: the opportunity to get far more deeply into the art and joy of programming using Google’s OzoBlockly visual programming language.

Ozobot Bit comes with two shells (each a different color) (OK, they’re helmets), a selection of pre-programmed playing mats, a calibration card, instructions, and USB charger – all housed in an expensive-looking, museum-quality plastic box – all in all, making a sweet, fun and robust connection between playing with a toy and learning to program with Java.


From Evollve, Inc. Ozobot Bit is recommended for school-age children to play with by themselves or in pairs.

Bullets and Blenders

Thanks to open-source programming, there are some very sophisticated and utterly engrossing ways for you to continue the cycle of Keva creation and destruction in the virtual world.

First, check out this video of Keva structures brought low by toy balls and Newtonian physics.[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3Ilojin4vQ8[/youtube]

Then go here to watch more…

These videos were made possible through an open-source physics engine called Bullet Physics and an open source 3d animation application called Blender (which utilizes the physics simulation of Bullet Physics). Both of these programs are free. I can in no way comment on the coding or any other technical aspect of these programs, however, I am thrilled that these tools are out there for kids and adults– for anyone who wants to build and play in a virtual environment that so closely mimics are own.

Keva planks and Lego and Lincoln Logs and all of the other building props that I grew up with as a child were ways that I could turn the virtual world of my imagination into something tangible. These structures led to a richer landscape for my imagination. Physics bound design programs are an extension of this feedback loop. Physical Keva structures can be rendered virtual, which can be made tangible again, which can then be folded back upon itself so many times that no one can predict what will emerge. New shapes and configurations and material properties in the virtual world could result in new toys and building systems that we will be gifting to our grandchildren.

Use the links below to check out Blender and Bullet Physics. You can download from the sites.




GiftTRAP, virtually yours

If you happened to find yourself in such a position, and you wished to express, materially, in a virtual-sort of way, your personal appreciation for my ongoing existence, you might very well wish to send me a gift of some sort – especially if it didn’t cost you anything. The question remains, however, what to get me. I’ve narrowed it down to: Pottery Classes, a Digital Camcorder, and a dress-up outfit. As an added incentive, if you happen to choose the one I really, really, really wanted most in the world, given only those three choices, you’d get three thumbs-up points and so would I! So, see, I really do want you to guess the one I really want, because then we both gets thumbs-up points. So the game is about giving each other things, things that’d be nice to be able to give each other, virtual, no-cash-value gifts that nonetheless are genuine acts of thoughtfulness.

This is GiftTRAP Live, Virtual GiftTRAP, yes, the Major FUN award-winning GiftTRAP of that very same name. Only, it’s online now, and it’s all grown-up into a game for online social networks, if you know what I mean.

On the one hand, it’s a kind of an eCard, so to speak, a nice virtual thing you can send people. Way more personal than a joke. Just as much fun. On the other hand, it’s a great way to start that “what do you really want for your birthday, or holidays” conversation. So it’s like Web 2.0, see, interpenetrating virtual and actual space.

Now that you know that I’d actually prefer the dress-up outfit, you know where to shop for me. And you can shop online, even. And it’s like one of those Mass Multiplayer Online Games you sometimes read about, like Second Life, only the life on GiftTRAP’s stage is kinder and gentler and more fun.

It behooves me to admit to a personal interest in this project. It was a comment I made back to the Nick from GiftTRAP that kicked off this whole project, and I’ve been lucky enough to kibitz on various iterations of this game as its evolved.

Which is why I get to be the first to blog about it going live.

from Bernie DeKoven, funsmith


moovl is a product of the people who make the Major FUN Award-winning Soda Constructor (reviewed in this issue of the FunDay Times). Which might explain why it’s such a fascinating, inviting, and playworthy drawing toy.

The big fascination comes from getting to draw things that: a) move and b) interact. I’m not sure which, a or b, contributes more to the fun. Having them both together, and being able to change the drawings, and how they move, and how they are influenced by the mysterious physics of gravity and friction and stiffness – each and all contribute to moving moovl funwards.

In the words of the Soda people themselves: “Moovl imbues freehand-drawings with life-like simulated dynamics and programmable behaviours. This dynamic transformation places drawing in a highly motivating self-directed feedback process of cause and effect, experiment and discovery.”

In other words: moovl is fun. Like I said, it’s: “a fascinating, inviting, and playworthy drawing toy.” Online. Advertisement free.

Amusing Mazes

If you found yourself drawn by Robert Abbott’s mazes, featured in a recent issue of the Funday Times, Clickmazes might very well prove inescapably fun.

The site is a compendium of mazes, almost all of which can be played online. The illustration is from their section of Plank Puzzles, like those featured in the Major FUN Award-winning puzzle River Crossing. And this is only one of two dozen similar sections, each devoted to a different kind of maze. You’ll be, well, amazed at how many different kinds of mazes there are, and how they collectively so clearly demonstrate yet another juxtaposition of mathematics, art and fun.

For further evidence of the fun/math/art connection, Andrea Gilbert, the site’s author, explains her path from playful doodling to art and math: “As a child in the 70s I drew free-hand mazes, ever larger and ever more detailed, on 2D and then 3D surfaces. In the 80s I preferred form and structure, strong patterns that could be broken in small ways to produce elegant mazes. In the 90s I turned increasingly to rules and logic to add extra layers of complexity and push my skills to the limit.”


Think of it as a virtual, animated tinker toy. Or, think of it as an opportunity to create life. Sodaplay provides a deep and fun world for exploration by the scientific and the playful.

As they explain: “looking at the fluid, lifelike way these creatures walk and roll and slink across the screen you might think that there must be some very complicated stuff going on behind the scenes. well fear not, it’s actually very simple. It only looks complicated because lots of simple bits are working together. When simple bits work together you can get emergent behaviour. that means that the system as a whole can be more complex and sophisticated than the simple bits that it’s made out of.”

First, visit the Sodazoo. Scroll right and left to view the first 80 or so Sodacritters – creations of Sodaplayers from around the world. Click on any one. Watch it dance. Then play with the controls. Watch it change. Then go back to the Sodacritter collection. Repeat. Repeat repetitively. Then make your own.

For the documentation-needy, there’s ample information on the Sodaconstructor page.

Sodaplay is the first virtual toy to earn the coveted Major FUN Award. It sets a standard that I truly hope will challenge imitators and innovators alike.

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