James Todd, a young dad and Web developer, is getting to live out his own dreams through his daughter's awesome project. As The New York Times reports, Dad's vision, enthusiasm (and camera-work!) have helped to propel 11-year-old Sylvia Todd to Internet rockstar status. For the past three years, the pair has been making "Sylvia’s Super-Awesome Maker Show” and the quirky series is now mega-popular.
Since shooting the first episode together, Sylvia and James have built up their brand -- one video, TEDx talk, robotics competition and, yes, even a White House science fair, at a time.
James and his wife Christina (who also collaborates on the series) told The New York Times that Sylvia’s videos were dreamed up when she was only a 5-year-old. They were facing financial obstacles at the time, but dove into making the web series anyway. “Your kid says they want to do something, and parents always say, 'Later,’” James told the outlet. For him, a 29-year-old who has always had a penchant for making cool stuff, that wasn’t an acceptable answer.
In a July 2012 interview on the KidzVuz Parents’ Blog, Sylvia detailed the duo's creative process. She wrote:
Me and my dad sit together, come up with ideas, write the scripts, then shoot everything with Craft Ninja mom and my brother and sisters helping out with puppets. Then we go back to the computer and I record voice-overs with my dad (I do some on my own!). Once we’re happy with the edit and the voice-overs, we add effects, funny voices, and sometimes me and my sister sing for the credits.
She also advised parents to try Maker Faires, science museums and simple home-based DIY projects with their kids, admitting: “My dad and I don’t always know how to do or explain things for our shows before doing them, but we learn together.”
And they have certainly figured out how to do a lot of cool stuff. Below are ten things 11-year-old Sylvia can do that absolutely wowed us. You can suggest topics for future shows on her show’s website.
Sylvia can make things take off. Like rockets. (And careers.)
Sylvia can turn household chemicals into "crazy putty." And explain how it all works using paper clips.
Sylvia knows how to make stuffed animals look possessed.
Sylvia gets her groove on by making heat-free lava lamps.
Sylvia can make her own pets from old computer equipment.
Sylvia doesn't need to buy sidewalk chalk; she makes it.
Sylvia etches and paints copper jewellery. She can make circuit boards, too.
Sylvia can spy on people with a milk-carton periscope.
Sylvia can clone toys.
Sylvia can play Ode to Joy by moving a drop of water around her kitchen counter.
(She does it with a <a href="http://learn.adafruit.com/drawdio" target="_blank">Drawdio</a>.)
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