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Tag Archives: Educational

fischertechnik Robot Sets

fischertechnik Industry Robots II Set (Image courtesy fischertechnik)
By Andrew Liszewski

If you’re looking for a robotic building block set it’s really hard not to recommend LEGO’s Mindstorms and Technic. Not only are they compatible with every other LEGO set on the market, but there’s a massive online community making it easy to find help for whatever you’re trying to build. However, maybe you have a vendetta against the LEGO corporation, or some political reason for shunning their products. If that’s the case, might I introduce you to fischertechnik’s robot building sets as an alternative.

They actually look a lot more technical than even LEGO Technics, but are designed to be educational and teach basic mechanical concepts to kids as young as 10 years old. The robot arm pictured above is part of their ‘Industry Robots II Set’ ($265) which can be used to build 3 different factory models of varying functionality, but other sets teach different concepts like pneumatics or locomotion. If you’re still not convinced, maybe the fact that the 32-bit, 200MHz ARM 9 processor-powered ROBO TX Controller is $300 just by itself is enough to convince you that the fischertechnik kits have the technical chops.

[ fischertechnik Industry Robots II Set ] VIA [ 7Gadgets ]

Chem C3000 Chemistry Set Looks Educational & Entertaining – Someone Call The Fun Police

Chem C3000 Chemistry Set (Image courtesy Thames & Kosmos)
By Andrew Liszewski

The removal of lawn darts from public availability was kind of understandable. And it’s not like there’s an Olympic event that’s suffering from a dearth of talent because of it. But the taming down of chemistry sets has arguably had a negative effect when it comes to getting kids excited about a career in the sciences. Baking soda and vinegar volcanoes aren’t really that inspiring. So I’m kind of surprised to see this Chem C3000 set from Thames & Kosmos which appears to have slipped past the fun censors unscathed.

It includes all the fun stuff you’ll need like apparatus and chemicals to complete 360 different experiments. And while they vary in complexity and entertainment value, there appear to be a few gems like making your own hydrochloric acid, which I’m going to assume ends up safely diluted. The Thames & Kosmos website lists all the fun stuff the kit comes with, and I’d encourage you to look at the $249.95 price tag as an investment in your kids’ futures.

[ Thames & Kosmos Chem C3000 Chemistry Set ] VIA [ InventorSpot ]

KWID Hourglass Watch Helps Kids Learn Time

KWID Hourglass Watch (Images courtesy Baby Sleep Shop)
By Andrew Liszewski

Kids rarely have a good comprehension of time. Like when you tell them it’s still another two hours to grandma’s house, and ten minutes later they’re asking “are we there yet?” So the KWID watch features a unique digital hourglass LCD that provides a more visual and easily understandable representation of just how long a given amount of time really is. So when you tell them they can play outside for five more minutes, they’ll see just exactly how quickly the minutes will disappear.

The KWID watch also has a traditional clock face mode with the time displayed as numbers beneath it helping kids learn how to read the hour and minute hands, and various playful animations that make learning more enjoyable. It’s also ~$37 (£22.95) from Baby Sleep Shop which might actually be a bit on the expensive side given how ‘well’ kids take care of their things.

[ KWID Hourglass Watch ] VIA [ Babyology ]

Periodic Table Building Blocks

Periodic Table Building Blocks (Image courtesy ThinkGeek)
By Andrew Liszewski

If your kid’s already got their ABC’s down pat by age 2, maybe it’s time to up the educational ante with some wooden building blocks featuring the periodic table. This set, exclusive to ThinkGeek, comes with 20 multi-sided blocks featuring all of the elements on the periodic table printed in bright colors. Now unless they’re some kind of pint-sized super villain in the making, knowing all the elements before they even hit grade school is essentially useless to them. But let’s face it, the only reason any parent would spend $39.99 on this set would be to show off to other parents that their kid knows exactly what elements make up that jelly bean they just shoved up their nose.

[ Periodic Table Building Blocks ]

The Origins Of Programming: An Infographic

By David Ponce

When you’re about to post an infographic that does all the writing for you, what’s the point in saying more than, well… “here’s a neat infographic on the Origins Of Programming”? Click through for the full graph.

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Design Your Own Squishy Circuits With Homemade Conductive Play-Doh

Squishy Circuits (Images courtesy Samuel Johnson and AnnMarie Thomas)
By Andrew Liszewski

It’s definitely not the kind of homemade toy you’ll want to bring along to entertain your kids on a long flight (I’ll leave it up to your imaginations how that would play out at the airport) but if you’ve been trying to lure them away from video games for something a bit more educational, this looks like it could do the trick. Squishy Circuits was developed at the University of St. Thomas by undergraduates Samuel Johnson and AnnMarie Thomas, and basically uses a couple of special ‘Play-Doh’ recipes allowing the dough to serve as either a conductor or an insulator. You’ll need a battery pack and some electrical powered doohickeys (like a motor or LEDs) to show that the circuits are indeed working, but otherwise it’s all up to the dough itself to teach and amaze.

The recipes for both the conductive and insulating dough can be found here, and hopefully Hasbro sees this idea and comes out with a circuits Play-Doh set of their own that’s more educational than making wacky hairdos or inedible burgers.

[ Squishy Circuits ] VIA [ CNET ]

WikiReader Now Supports 15 Different Languages

WikiReader (Image property OhGizmo!)
By Andrew Liszewski

Making it even more useful to non-English speaking parts of the world that might be lacking internet access, Openmoko’s WikiReader now supports 14 additional language versions of Wikipedia including Chinese, Japanese, Portuguese, Norwegian, Greek, French, Finnish, Danish, Dutch, German, Spanish, Welsh, Russian and Hungarian, with updated versions of the virtual keyboard for searching articles. The language pack updates are available for download now from the Openmoko website, and since the WikiReader supports microSD cards up to 16GB in size, you can actually download and use multiple language versions of Wikipedia at once. Now all it needs is a cross-language translator and the device might find itself a new niche.

[ Openmoko WikiReader ]

Ride! Ride! Children’s ‘PhoneBook’ Uses Your iPhone For Interactive Elements

Ride! Ride! Children's 'PhoneBook' (Images courtesy CreativeApplications.net)
By Andrew Liszewski

Got kids? Got kids who like playing with your iPhone or iPod Touch? Well check out this brilliant children’s book, or PhoneBook, created by Japan’s MOBILE ART LAB. It’s a picture book that features a slot for your iPhone/iPod Touch that leaves just the display visible in the middle of each page, allowing your child to interact with the accompanying (and free) app that enhances the adventures of POPO and MOMO with interactive elements, animations and music.

The book was officially released in Japan on May 25th, and is available from Amazon for about $32 (?2,980). Of course since the app is free you probably don’t actually need to buy the book, but the whole experience seems just a bit less charming without it.

[ PhoneBook ] VIA [ CreativeApplications.net ]

TC3 FPS Military Simulator Designed To Train Medics

Tactical Combat Casualty Care Simulation (Images courtesy Engineering & Computer Simulations, Inc.)
By Andrew Liszewski

When you think of simulators designed for the military, you probably think of pilots safely training in virtual multi-million dollar aircraft, or soldiers practicing combat via a shoot-em-up FPS, but the TC3, or Tactical Combat Casualty Care Simulation, is an FPS that’s actually designed to give medics experience in the field.

Learning how to quickly and effectively treat a wound is one thing, but learning how to administer the same treatment in the middle of a warzone is an entirely different skillset. So the TC3 simulator reinforces lessons taught in a classroom with actual scenarios played out in a virtual version of Afghanistan, where medics have to treat wounded soldiers in the middle of battles and gunfire. Everything from how to treat the wound to bedside manner is tested, since calming an injured soldier is usually the first thing you have to do before you can even begin treatment, and at the end of the mission the participants are critiqued as to how well a given situation was handled, and if there’s room for improvement.

[ TC3 – Tactical Combat Casualty Care Simulation ] VIA [ Medgadget ]