Birthdays, special days or just ordinary days that you want to help make extraordinary ones, geeky parents like us are always on the lookout for the next great toy that doubles as the next great stepping stone to their future. In fact, knowing that what lies inside their toy boxes are equipping them for a better tomorrow, well, it kind of helps us sleep better at night. That’s why we sent our tech experts on a whirlwind web excursion to hunt down the latest and greatest in tech finds for every kid in your life. These 4 perfect picks will not only keep them occupied on a rainy day, but also interested in how things work, why they work and what they can do to help them become the best little guy or girl that they can be.
As you journey to make your little one’s future even brighter, these bright ideas are sure to please. So, go ahead… fire up those brain cells and let’s get to exploring. You may find that you love these fabulous tech finds just as much as the next kid… even if you are a kid that just so happens to be going on 40 years old…
Monkey See, Monkey Do
The Meccano Meccanoid G15 KS Personal Robot may retail for $183, but that’s far less than you likely paid for your child’s last iPhone. Besides, what pint-sized hero would not like to build their own pint-sized robot that can mimic them and follow instructions? (Hey, if anyone is good at teaching something that stands about 4 feet tall to mock someone, like, oh, I don’t now… a parent… it is a child.) With around 1,200 working parts, including LED eyes, eight motors and even a working brain, your child can teach their robot through direct manipulation or with the help of an Android or iOS app easily installed on their favorite device. (Insider tip: Manual manipulation is easiest.) Once the robot is constructed, there are many voice commands your child can use to communicate with their humanoid… just be warned in advance that this takes a LONG time to build. So, go ahead and get a little back up help at the office… you might need it – either way, the end result and quality time spent will be well worth the effort from both of you.
Incredible At-Home Inventions
The SAM Labs Science Museum Inventor Kit comes with a light sensor, tilt sensor, motor, a buzzer and other working pieces that will help your child, or you, to make an invention all their own. Simply pop the software into your computer where the software interface will allow you to move together various blocks and get started to several months of good old-fashioned fun.
While it seems simple, you won’t be simply creating sequences for the electronic components of your invention, you can manipulate your computer to send out tweets, capture photos and even play a variety of sounds. From Morse code to alarm noises, it is clear from the complexity of the possibilities as well as the simplicity of actual use that this genius idea was a product of a smart collaboration with the London Science Museum. Retailing for $139, this kit will keep your kids busy until spring, but you might just find that you enjoy it too.
Virtually the Best Virtual Reality for Kids
Your child probably already has their own smartphone or, at the very least, is already begging for one come their next birthday. You probably already know that virtual reality is a hot commodity for 2017 and, if you haven’t yet, now is the time to get on the bandwagon. For only $14, there simply is no reason not to give it a go. Mattel’s View Master Virtual Reality Starter Pack is specifically made for kids and it has plenty of compatible VR apps and games already out on Android and iOS. Parents who hail from the 80s will appreciate the throw-back, View Finder design and for $15 extra, here and there, you can also invest in a variety of other “reels” like wildlife and space themes to help bring the virtual reality experience to life, keeping it interesting even after months of use.
The Dino-Lite AM2111 Handheld 0.3 MP Digital Microscope retails for $99 and if you can flashback to middle school science class then you already know that what you can see with a microscope is unreal. This updated version of an old classroom favorite works alongside your computer, phone, tablet or laptop and you can guess the rest from there. There is no limit to what your child can explore with this digital wonder whose software supports Android, iOS, Mac and Windows. So, what makes it so great? It can magnify up to 220x, features 4 LED lights to light up your subject and even a stand so your child can get an even closer look. Expect to get plenty of captured photos and videos of what your child magnifies… Don’t be surprised if one of those things is a booger. In fact, maybe it is best to not ask what you are looking at!
Geeky parents give their kids an advantage. The lifelong gift of loving to learn. If that makes us a little nerdy… that’s ok by us. We know that someday when our kids bring home the Pulitzer, the Nobel Prize or just that deep down feeling that they did something good that they loved, they will think of us. (And how we bugged the heck out of them to learn things.)