Six of the Best: Back-to-school gadgets
Whether you're returning to school or university (or maybe even the office) after your summer break, these gadgets will get you in the mood for learning
Lap it up
Challenger Laptop, £27.99, vtech.co.uk
For young learners who want to feel all grown up, this little laptop will do the trick. Suitable for ages four plus, it includes games and activities that focus on maths, music, vocabulary and even French – all at key stages one and two. It comes with a mouse and the keyboard is QWERTY, so they really will feel like they're playing on mum and dads' computer. The screen is pretty small, though that's not necessarily a negative. It just means it won't be overwhelming for younger users.
Do you compute?
Kano Kit, £119.99, www.kano.me
You've probably heard of the Raspberry Pi - the tiny little computer originally launched in 2012 by UK charity Raspberry Pi Foundation. The idea behind the device was to get school-age children (and adults too), interested in computer science. The single-board computer is still going strong and, if you're yet to purchase one of the credit-card sized contraptions, you might be tempted by this build-it-yourself Kano kit. Not only does it come with Raspberry Pi 2, but also a DIY speaker, keyboard, cables, WiFi dongle and SD card. After putting the kit together (and connecting it to a screen) you'll be able to get coding. Great for children aged six plus.
Star Theatre Planetarium, £109.99, firebox.com
With light pollution often blocking our view of a clear night sky, this plug in planetarium will impress those who want to improve their astronomy knowledge. Simply insert one of the two discs into the front of the ball-like device, turn off the lights and look up at the stars above, now flickering on your ceiling. Not only is this very relaxing, it's educational too. One of the discs highlights all the common constellations – with lines connecting the stars in each one so you can see exactly what path they take.
DIY Gamer Kit with Arduino, £65, www.sciencemuseumshop.co.uk
OK, with this gadget you're going to need some tools to begin with. But, if you do possess a soldering iron, solder, putty, protective eyewear and snips, this could be the ideal gadget to get your teen away from their games console and building their own version. While the finished version will see them able to play classic games Snakes and pong, it's the construction of the kit that makes this a great hands-on project. If after a while they are bored by the two games, they can code their own.
Acer Iconia One 8, £116.75, from amazon.co.uk
Whether you're an art student, you just like drawing or you're even a professional designer scrap your sketchbook now. The Acer Iconia One 8 comes with Precision Plus3 technology, which means you can draw – even using a pencil – on the screen. The surface is so sensitive that just the lightest of touches are required. The tablet comes with Iconia Suite including EZ Note (specifically for sketching and note taking), and EZ Gadget which allows you to multitask. In addition to its arty credentials, it also features an 8-core processor, so whether you're watching films or playing games, it will flow effortlessly.
App of the week
Peak – Brain Training, free from iTunes, Google Play and Amazon Appstore
Think app games are just time-fillers? This one improves your brain power – all from playing six short games a day. Neuroscience, education and cognitive science experts helped design it, so, if you're keen to challenge your brain, this could be the app for you. Fun and easy to navigate, get the most out of it with in-app purchases that allow you to get a pro-version for a month or year.