Anyone who loves—or even just appreciates—science will tell you that there’s something beautiful about it. At the same time, those who love—or even just appreciate—art, often admire the technique and scientific precision that can go into creating a masterpiece. This week we had a chance to experience several engaging products that blur the lines between art and science.
Among its many applications, augmented reality (AR) has the capacity to revolutionize education, and the Virtuali-Tee is a great example. Just download the free iOS/Android app, have someone put on the included t-shirt (or, if you’re alone, use selfie mode), and get ready to explore the circulatory (bloodstream), respiratory (lungs), and digestive (intestines) systems in a truly eye-popping way. Each one uses 360-degree videos that make you feel like you’re stepping inside your own body. While exploring the bloodstream, for example, you’ll barrel through veins and arteries, dodging giant blood cells. Touch on-screen “hot spots” and an on-board anatomy expert will explain everything you need to know. If you’re looking for a way to spark—or deepen—an interest in human anatomy, you can’t do better than this. For ages 6+. $29.95. https://www.curiscope.com
Augie Augmented Reality Robot (Pai Technologies)
As far as we know, Augie is the first coding robot that (who?) comes with AR technology. What’s especially cool about Augie is that after introducing the basics of coding (using Blockly), he or she (it?) then grows with your child through six distinct progression-base modes. Your little programmer will soon have Augie dashing around your house, nimbly avoiding obstacles, spinning, and making sounds, all while stealthily stimulating your child’s imagination, critical thinking, logic, and problem-solving skills. The app is free, as are over 60 AR coding tutorials that follow the standards set by Code.org. For ages 5+. Under $95. https://www.pai.technology/augie-1/
SmART Sketcher (Flycatcher)
This kid-friendly projector is designed to guide your child or you through drawing, coloring, tracing, and creating. You can download photos from your smart device using the free Android/iOS app or use the included any of the 50 pre-loaded, themed activity packs (more of which are available and sold separately). There are even some nice curriculum-based tutorials that are designed to teach drawing and sketching technique. Comes with crayons, markers, paper, and other artists’ tools. Batteries required but not included. For ages 5+. Under $60. https://www.smartsketcher.com/
Boolean Box (Boolean Girl)
While we applaud any and all efforts to get girls interested in technology and engineering, there’s absolutely no reason why this product needs to be targeted only at girls. Boolean box is a well-designed, high-quality kit that comes with everything (keyboard, processor, wires, resistors, buttons, lights, etc.) a child of either sex would need to build a computer, and then use it to code and create other tech projects. Software, including Minecraft, is preloaded. The only thing that’s not included is a monitor, but there’s an HDMI cable that will allow you to connect it to your TV or computer screen. Inspiration and instructions for hundreds of projects are on the Boolean Girl website, as is admission to “Boolean University,” which has even more coding and electronics projects. Putting together the computer is easy for a novice to accomplish without much help from dad or mom. Coding is easy to learn with Scratch (a visual programming language), but kids will be ready to move on to Python before you know it. Batteries required but not included. For ages 7+. Under $150. https://booleangirl.org/