Science moves beyond textbooks at Mendota Heights school

Convent of the Visitation School in Mendota Heights, Minn., is home to the state’s first all-girl robotics team, which won last year’s Minnesota North Star Regional Championship. The school also has created a 4,000-square-foot facility dedicated to science, technology, engineering and math, complete with space for the team called the “Robettes.” Students and educators say they hope the facility will inspire more girls to pursue STEM studies.

Convent of the Visitation: Science moves beyond textbooks into 4,000-square-feet -

Convent of the Visitation: Science moves beyond textbooks into 4,000-square-feet –

Minka – Meditation on Traditional Japanese Woodworking

MINKA is a short documentary film about a remarkable Japanese farmhouse and the memories it contains. In 1967, an American journalist and his adopted Japanese son rescued the ancient house from the snow country of Japan, and their lives were forever changed. MINKA is an intimate story about place, architecture, memory and the meaning of home.

Minka from Birdling Films on Vimeo.

How They Built Houses in Japan

Japanese carpenters generally fall into one of 4 categories.

  1. Miyadaiku – Intricate joinery focused on the building of shrines and temples.
  2. Sukiya-daiku – Teahouse and residential carpentry
  3. sashimono-shi – Furniture makers
  4. Tateguya – interior finish carpenters
  5. This film explores the art of sukiya-daiku. It a fascinating look at the art of japanese hand work.

    How They Built Houses in Japan from Harvard Magazine on Vimeo.

The Woodwright’s School


If you are ever near Chapel Hill, NC, do yourself a favor and visit the Woodwright’s School. They are dedicated to the art of working wood with hand tools, wedge and edge. No screaming routers allowed here. The school is run by the PBS icon of over 30 years, Roy Underhill of The Woodwright’s Shop.

Roy shared his techniques using the springpole lathe and observed while I planed a big hunk of green walnut as he chatted with my Dad.
…and yes, he’s just as crazy in person.

Full episodes of Roy’s show are available on the PBS website or their mobile apps.

Wooden rolling ball sculpture

Rolling ball sculptures have always enamored me. It goes back to my first marble toy built by my father. It served as the literal and figurative launch for many of the Goldbergesque marble runs I built in our basement with carpet tubes, blocks, matchbox tracks, and anything else I could find.

This gem was found at the Minnesota state fair in 2009. John like’s to call this style “whittlepunk”.