15 Awesome Kickstarter Projects

I love the site Kickstarter, which enables people to raise funds for all kinds of projects, from indie comic books to clothing lines to theater performances. Every time I browse through the projects, I notice just how many of them are the kinds of projects our readers would love--educational yet playful, quirky and scientific, fan tributes to favorite comics and books. I've gathered up some of the best flossy projects here, in order of how much time remains on each project; if any of them strike your fancy, just follow the widgets over to Kickstarter to place a pledge (starting from just $1).

The LEGO Truck

The Goal: Fund repairs to the light-up LEGO Truck, which makes appearances at Burning Man and Seattle-area events

Funds Needed: $3,375

Favorite Reward: LEGO Truck T-shirt for $50+ pledges

Splurge Reward: For $500+, LEGO Truck appearance at a private event, a special afternoon cruise in the LEGO Truck at Burning Man, plus all the other rewards, which include stickers, LEGO jewelry, music, and the T-shirt

I Am Big Bird Documentary

Goal: To make a documentary about Caroll Spinney, the man behind both Big Bird and Oscar the Grouch for the last 40+ years, and the last of the original Sesame Street puppeteers

Funds Needed: $100,000+

Favorite Reward: A digital download of the film and the film's soundtrack, plus access to the production blog, for $20

Splurge Reward: For $10,000+, a private dinner for you and a guest with Caroll Spinney in New York, plus all of the other rewards, which include tickets to the premiere, copies of the film itself, and a poster

Rise: An X-Men Fan Film

Goal: The production of a non-profit, fan-created X-Men film made by seasoned Hollywood professionals

Funds Needed: $38,700

Favorite Reward: Early online screening of the film before its Hollywood premiere for all backers who pledge $1 or more

Splurge Reward: For $10,000+, you receive an executive producer credit and a featured cameo in the film (with airfare included!), plus all the other rewards, including a memorabilia prop, studio tour, tickets to comic con 2013, and an invitation to the Hollywood premiere

Out of Print eReader Jackets

Goal: Production of ereader book jackets that look, feel, and wear like real books, made by the oldest bookbinder in the U.S.

Funds Needed: $15,000

Favorite Reward: The Kindle Fire jacket of your choice, from the initial collection, for pledges of $40+

Splurge Reward: For $85+, two iPad jackets of your choice from the initial collection

Fight for Space: A Documentary About NASA & The Space Program

Goal: To create a documentary about the U.S. space program

Funds Desired: $100,000 (they've already reached their minimum needs of $65,000)

Favorite Reward: HD digital download of the film, plus a "thank you" credit in the film and on the website, for pledges of $10+

Splurge Reward: For $10,000+, you receive an executive producer credit in the main titles of the film, as well as all the other rewards, which include copies of the film, invitation to the premiere, a meeting with the crew, an interview to be included the film, and a photo book

Children's ABC Wallet Cards

Goal: Production of credit-card-sized non-toxic indestructible plastic alphabet cards for toddlers to use for play and education

Funds Needed: $12,570

Favorite Reward: The entire deck of cards and a custom wallet to place the cards in, plus digital download of the artwork, for $32+

Splurge Reward: For $500+, dinner and dessert with the project creator (Marie-Claire Camp), hand-drawn thank you cards from her toddlers, and a comic strip starring you and your family by her husband, along with the deck of cards and digital artwork download

Remote Rover Experiment

Goal: Testing of prototype moon rovers, with the eventual goal of sending one to the moon

Funds Needed: $100,000

Favorite Reward: For $15+, pilot the latest prototype through realistic mission challenges, receiving a test pilot certificate and digital recording of your performance afterward

Splurge Reward: With $10,000+, you cover the cost of one Asimov 2.5 series rover prototype, whose color and label will be customized to your desires. Of course you'll also get to pilot the rover, and you'll receive footage from the production, assembly, and testing of the rover.

Drift Studio Map-Printed Modular Furniture

Goal: Acquire cartography software and map data for 20+ cities in order to create a online customization process for map-printed modular furniture

Funds Needed: $7,500

Favorite Reward: 11.5"x11.5" plywood panel map art featuring your choice of their full color maps for pledges of $50+

Splurge Reward: If you fund the entire campaign ($7,500+), you'll receive a large custom piece (or combination of pieces) tailored to your needs and space, which will be personally installed and signed by the owners of the company

The Raven: An Animated Steampunk Adaptation

Goal: The production of an animated short film adaptation of Poe's The Raven in the world of steampunk

Funds Needed: $7,500

Favorite Reward: For just $1 (or more), you'll get a digital copy of the film

Splurge Reward: One backer will be able to pledge $5,000+ to receive an executive producer credit plus transportation and accommodations to visit the set during filming, as well as all the other rewards, which include copies of the film, a poster, and a T-shirt

"Hydrophobia" Gallery Prints

Goal: To produce six 60"x40" photographic prints to display in a college gallery

Funds Desired: $800 (her minimum need for $647 has already been met)

Favorite Reward: For $20+, your choice of photo as either an 8"x12" or 8"x10" print on glossy or lustre finish paper

Splurge Reward: One backer who pledges $800+ will receive 2 signed and numbered 20"x30" aluminized prints

Book Riot's Start Here: Read Your Way Into 25 Amazing Authors

Goal: To publish a book, in print and digitally, that tells readers how to read their way into 25 different authors

Funds Needed: $25,000

Favorite Reward: Digital copy of the book plus a personalized book recommendation based on your public profile on a social media network for 25 backers who pledge $15+

Splurge Reward: For $750, an approximately 10-word entry on the book's dedication page, 2 tickets to launch pre-party meet-and-greet hour, guaranteed inclusion of your choice of author from the candidates list, 2 tickets to the launch party, a bookshelf print, a web chat, copies of the book, and more

Pie Time Clock App

Goal: To develop and launch an app for iOS called Pie Time that teaches kids the concept of time and time management through the use of a pie visual

Funds Needed: $5,000

Favorite Reward: For $100+, you get a download of the app for yourself plus for every student in your child's grade at school

Splurge Reward: For $5,000+, a 2-night retreat in Santa Barbara, including transportation from Los Angeles, to sample gourmet local pies and discuss projects with the developer, as well as all the other rewards, including the apps for the students at your child's school, 2 hours of consulting/production/tutoring from the developer, and the inclusion of your ideas for background themes

The Little Women Graphic Novel Project

Goal: To produce and publish a graphic novel of Louisa May Alcott's classic novel, Little Women

Funds Needed: $6,000

Favorite Reward: For $25+, a signed copy of the book, in paperback and PDF, including content exclusive to Kickstarter backers, as well as back-only updates on Kickstarter featuring the process, videos, and downloads

Splurge Reward: For $500+, an original hand-painted full-color 8"x10" illustration of the March sisters, the 8"x10" pencil drawing from which the color illustration will be made, signed paperback copies of all the other books by the creator (Dani Jones), physical & digital copies of the graphic novel, and more

"I'm Smarter!" Trivia Game App

Goal: The development and release of a trivia competition game app for iOS and Android

Funds Needed: $15,000

Favorite Reward: For $5+, download of the game (for iOS or Android)

Splurge Reward: For $2,500+, round-trip domestic airfare to Boston to meet with the creator for dinner/drinks to discuss the project and potentially help plan and host a launch party / trivia tournament, plus acknowledgement as a co-creator (along with all the rights, privileges, and honors), as well as all the other rewards, which include downloads of the app and "I'm Smarter" hoodie, mug, T-shirt, and shot glass

The Adventures of Ned the Neuron

Goal: The development and production of an interactive electronic activity book about the brain, The Adventures of Ned the Neuron, for kids ages 7-11

Funds Needed: $25,000

Favorite Reward: The book (as app or PDF) plus either a Ned the Neuron T-shirt or totebag for $30+ pledges

Splurge Reward: For pledges of $10,000+, the creators will fly you to the San Francisco Bay Area (from anywhere in the US) this fall and provide 2-night hotel accommodation so you can attend the book launch party and meet the team, plus all the other rewards, including a neuroscience workshop/party for your kids led by the author (Erica Warp, a Neuroscience PhD), a one-of-a-kind drawing of you as a neuron character, 25 digital copies of the book to the school of your choice, and a signed limited edition hardcover copy of the

This Website Lets You Watch Every Single 'Stare' Scene from The Office

A facial expression is often worth a thousand words—especially on NBC’s The Office. Characters are prone to breaking the fourth wall by staring directly into the camera, their smiles, grimaces, and stares providing viewers with a glimpse inside their heads. By the time the show’s final episode aired in 2013, audiences could instantly recognize—and interpret—Jim Halpert's ironic stare, Dwight Schrute's self-satisfied smirk, and Michael Scott’s awkward fake smile.

For fans looking to relive these quietly hilarious scenes, Nerdist reports that a website, The Office Stare Machine, has compiled “every single time a character speechlessly breaks the 4th wall and stares at the camera.” Creator Joe Sabia spent a year and a half building an archive of more than 700 clips, and teamed up with developer Aaron Rasmussen to display them online. The site features a search engine, which allows visitors to type in more than 800 different emotions—boredom, sadness, anger, and loneliness, to name a few—and watch a corresponding video snippet.

Aside from its laugh factor, The Office Stare Machine provides viewers with a unique way of getting to know their favorite characters’ personalities. According to the site’s creators, Michael Scott, as played by Steve Carell, has the most “happy” expressions, whereas Dwight Schrute, a.k.a. Rainn Wilson, has the most devious ones. And despite his fun-loving, easygoing nature, Jim, who's played by John Krasinski, is sad the most—presumably because of his long-running struggle to win secretary Pam Beesly’s affections.

Check out a few clips from The Office Stare Machine below, or visit the site to view the full archive. If you need an extra incentive to watch the entire collection, the website is also designed to play “a secret, epic, and beautifully crafted surprise video” once you're done browsing its catalog of emotions.





[h/t Nerdist]

Smithsonian National Zoological Gardens
10 Animal Webcams You Can Watch Right Now
Smithsonian National Zoological Gardens
Smithsonian National Zoological Gardens

There are many facilities that are sharing the wonders of nature with the world via live webcam. Here are a few of our favorites, which you might want to bookmark.


Broadcast live streaming video on Ustream

An Allen’s hummingbird (Selasphorus sasin) has been returning to the same ficus tree in Southern California to build nests and raise her chicks for 11 years now. The anonymous homeowner named her Bella and installed a camera to share the nesting activity with everyone in 2012. You can follow Bella live as she tends to her nest, keeping the tiny eggs warm until they hatch.


The Metro Richmond Zoo in Moseley, Virginia, has a cheetah breeding facility which is currently housing three litters of cheetah cubs. Two litters have webcams trained on their enclosures; the screenshot here shows mother Milani and her cubs.


If you’ve ever craved the experienced of a working farm without having to do the chores, you can load the live barnyard webcam at Flying Skunk farm in Martha’s Vineyard, Massachusetts. The farm raises chickens, ducks, geese, and goats. This webcam has a microphone to capture the honks, clucks, crows, and general poultry cacophony, which can be a nice background for your web surfing.


Life isn't great for feral cats. Kittens born in the wild have abysmal survival rates, and those that survive to adulthood aren’t used to humans, making them difficult to find homes for. To bring down the numbers of feral cats, some rescue groups run TNR (trap, neuter, return) programs—and in British Columbia, TinyKittens teamed up with Langely Animal Protection Society to do just that. The goal is to prevent cats from getting pregnant, but when TinyKittens finds a pregnant feral cat, the facility takes her in, caring for her and her kittens so they're acclimated to humans. When the kittens are ready, they go to loving homes, and mom is spayed and released. Right now TinyKittens' live webcam is trained on Skye, a blind feral rescue cat with a litter of kittens. Treatment has restored a little sight in one of her eyes, but she doesn’t need to see her kittens to love them.


Take a peek inside the Warrior Canine Connection's Puppy Enrichment Center with this live cam, which features future service dogs who will one day help wounded veterans reconnect with their lives and loved ones.


An underwater live webcam can show us many surprises. Ocean Networks Canada has a webcam 75 feet under the sea, keeping an eye on the Folger Pinnacle Reef off Vancouver Island, British Columbia. The only light available most of the time is what filters down from the surface, but at night, the researchers controlling the reef cam turn on underwater lights for five minutes out of every hour for your viewing pleasure. It’s hard to tell from a screenshot, but things are constantly moving in the live stream. Currently, the camera is a little dirty; divers periodically clean and service the camera. It sits on a platform with a number of scientific instruments that allow the researchers to monitor the area, which is a rockfish conservation zone.


© 2016 American Eagle Foundation, EAGLES.ORG

A pair of bald eagles selected a tulip poplar tree at the U.S. National Arboretum in Washington, D.C., to build their nest in 2014 and have been using it ever since. The eagles are named Mr. President and The First Lady. The American Eagle Foundation has two cameras trained on the nest, and this year’s eaglets hatched on March 18 and March 20. The juvenile eagles are starting to look like adults, although they haven't yet sprouted the white feathers on their heads that will made them recognizable as the animal on the great seal.


The Smithsonian National Zoological Park in Washington, D.C., is home to four giant pandas: Tian Tian, an adult male; Bao Bao, a juvenile female; and the stars of the show, Mei Xiang and her baby, Bei Bei, born last August. There are two panda cams following Mei and Bei Bei, one trained on the outdoor habitat and the other covering the interior; the screenshot above shows Bei Bei enjoying his lunch. When your time zone doesn’t coincide with Mei Xiang and Bei Bei's schedule, you can check out Gao Gao, Bai Yun, and Xiao Liwu on the San Diego Zoo's panda cam.


Pete’s Pond is a watering hole at Mashatu Game Reserve in Botswana. There’s a webcam trained on Pete’s Pond 24 hours a day, with camera operators ready to focus in on visiting animals. Elephants, monitor lizards, and baboons are all regular visitors; we tuned in just in time to see a giraffe ready for a drink.


This webcam is trained on Round Island, one of Alaska's four major terrestrial "haulouts"—areas where, in the spring, male Pacific walruses (Odobenus rosmarus divergens) haul themselves out of the water for a few days at a time between feedings. Round Island is one of seven islands that make up the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary; 14,000 walruses have been spotted on Round Island on a single day.


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