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These Awesome Tech Toys Will Make Your Kids Smarter

These Awesome Tech Toys Will Make Your Kids Smarter

Boy, they sure don’t make toys how they used to!

Case in point, the three “toys” showcased in this featured video. Let’s give a bit of a rundown shall we?

1. Kano

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    The first is Kano, a $150 build-your-own-computer that allows 6-14 year old kids construct their own basic computer and create uncomplicated programs for it.

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    If your child is into technology, this would be the perfect gift for them. Not only does it teach some electrical and engineering skills, but it also holds their hand through some basic programming lessons. Not every kid will be thrilled with the troubleshooting process associated with perfecting software, so it is somewhat true that this kind of toy isn’t for everyone.

    That said, I think that in a world based on technology it can’t hurt to give kids a way to interact with the things that essentially run our lives.

    2. Cubelets and Moss

    Cubelets2z

      The second is Modular Robotics’ Cubelets and Moss, which are kits that allow you to create robots that interact with the world around them (in a limited fashion).

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      I’m a fan of this one, if only because of its simplicity. It’s easy to put blocks together, attach electrical motors, and see what happens. The messing around with the cubes alone could fill a kid’s afternoon.

      The only caveat I can think of is that the cubes are pretty expensive, costing hundreds of dollars for a dozen of them. Still, if you’d rather give your kids something more unique than a game console, these are a fantastic choice.

      3. Littlebits Kit

      Littlebits3z

        Lastly, there’s LittleBits, a company that sells a kit that allows kids to create all sorts of creative electronic devices (it’s based on their imagination in terms of how complicated they make them).

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        This kit is fairly open ended (by design), and though they provide you with instructions, it’s really up to your kid as to how they want to go about creating stuff. If you get this for your child, it’s important to remind them of the fact that they can break away from the instruction set and go about creating whatever they want.

        After all, these toys are all about being creative, and thinking about things in a way you haven’t thought of them before.

        Conclusion

        The benefits of these kinds of “engineering” geared toys are obvious. Getting kids to think about how things work at a basic level, and making it fun for them to build something substantial at a young age can only serve to inspire them as they grow older.

        What these toys really aim to do, is hold kid’s attention just long enough so that they make the “big leap from building by instruction to dreaming up new machines.”

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        And for what it’s worth, I see nothing wrong with that. Society can always use more dreamers.

        Has your child used any of these toys? Did they like them? What did you observe while watching them play? I’d like to hear your answers in the comments!

        Featured photo credit: Robotic Arm Lifting Dice/ Dan Ruscoe via flickr.com

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        Last Updated on May 14, 2019

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        8 Replacements for Google Notebook

        Exploring alternatives to Google Notebook? There are more than a few ‘notebooks’ available online these days, although choosing the right one will likely depend on just what you use Google Notebook for.

        1. Zoho Notebook
          If you want to stick with something as close to Google Notebook as possible, Zoho Notebook may just be your best bet. The user interface has some significant changes, but in general, Zoho Notebook has pretty similar features. There is even a Firefox plugin that allows you to highlight content and drop it into your Notebook. You can go a bit further, though, dropping in any spreadsheets or documents you have in Zoho, as well as some applications and all websites — to the point that you can control a desktop remotely if you pare it with something like Zoho Meeting.
        2. Evernote
          The features that Evernote brings to the table are pretty great. In addition to allowing you to capture parts of a website, Evernote has a desktop search tool mobil versions (iPhone and Windows Mobile). It even has an API, if you’ve got any features in mind not currently available. Evernote offers 40 MB for free accounts — if you’ll need more, the premium version is priced at $5 per month or $45 per year. Encryption, size and whether you’ll see ads seem to be the main differences between the free and premium versions.
        3. Net Notes
          If the major allure for Google Notebooks lays in the Firefox extension, Net Notes might be a good alternative. It’s a Firefox extension that allows you to save notes on websites in your bookmarks. You can toggle the Net Notes sidebar and access your notes as you browse. You can also tag websites. Net Notes works with Mozilla Weave if you need to access your notes from multiple computers.
        4. i-Lighter
          You can highlight and save information from any website while you’re browsing with i-Lighter. You can also add notes to your i-Lighted information, as well as email it or send the information to be posted to your blog or Twitter account. Your notes are saved in a notebook on your computer — but they’re also synchronized to the iLighter website. You can log in to the site from any computer.
        5. Clipmarks
          For those browsers interested in sharing what they find with others, Clipmarks provides a tool to select clips of text, images and video and share them with friends. You can easily syndicate your finds to a whole list of sites such as Facebook, Twitter and Digg. You can also easily review your past clips and use them as references through Clipmarks’ website.
        6. UberNote
          If you can think of a way to send notes to UberNote, it can handle it. You can clip material while browsing, email, IM, text message or even visit the UberNote sites to add notes to the information you have saved. You can organize your notes, tag them and even add checkboxes if you want to turn a note into some sort of task list. You can drag and drop information between notes in order to manage them.
        7. iLeonardo
          iLeonardo treats research as a social concern. You can create a notebook on iLeonardo on a particular topic, collecting information online. You can also access other people’s notebooks. It may not necessarily take the place of Google Notebook — I’m pretty sure my notes on some subjects are cryptic — but it’s a pretty cool tool. You can keep notebooks private if you like the interface but don’t want to share a particular project. iLeonardo does allow you to follow fellow notetakers and receive the information they find on a particular topic.
        8. Zotero
          Another Firefox extension, Zotero started life as a citation management tool targeted towards academic researchers. However, it offers notetaking tools, as well as a way to save files to your notebook. If you do a lot of writing in Microsoft Word or Open Office, Zotero might be the tool for you — it’s integrated with both word processing software to allow you to easily move your notes over, as well as several blogging options. Zotero’s interface is also available in more than 30 languages.

        I’ve been relying on Google Notebook as a catch-all for blog post ideas — being able to just highlight information and save it is a great tool for a blogger.

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        In replacing it, though, I’m starting to lean towards Evernote. I’ve found it handles pretty much everything I want, especially with the voice recording feature. I’m planning to keep trying things out for a while yet — I’m sticking with Google Notebook until the Firefox extension quits working — and if you have any recommendations that I missed when I put together this list, I’d love to hear them — just leave a comment!

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