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12 Gifts to Make You Smarter

posted by Mark on December 22nd, 2008

12 Gifts to Make You SmarterThis holiday season doesn’t have to be full of brainless activities and presents, no matter how much Nerf is involved. Here are 12 ways to give the gift of knowledge this year.

For Kids:

Discovery Deluxe Touch Screen ATM MachineDiscovery Deluxe Touch Screen ATM Machine
This touch-screen toy ATM machine recognizes money denominations, calculates balances and uses both a PIN code and an ATM card, just like a real machine.
Pro: Teaches kids about the value of money.
Con: Doesn’t teach them about bank fees.

Spark Talking GlobeSpark Talking Globe
This touch-sensitive globe provides audio facts about the people, animals and geography of the different parts of the world.
Pro: Teaches kids about the continents.
Con: Makes kids think that Europe is purple.

Young Architect KitYoung Architect Kit
The Young Architect Kit includes all a child needs — paper, pencils, templates, blocks, stickers — to draw building floor plans and create a 3-D replica structure that matches the plan.
Pro: Teaches kids about architecture.
Con: Your kids will bill you $300 an hour to play with it.

Moon in My RoomMoon in My Room
This (not life-sized) replica of the moon mounts on a wall and lights up at night, rotating through 12 lunar cycles as a child follows along with a moon phase calendar and a CD narrates various lunar details.
Pro: Teaches kids about the lunar cycles.
Con: Might turn your child into a werewolf.

Discovery Tornado LabDiscovery Tornado Lab
Pour water into the clear container, turn it on and watch a tornado form as sound effects make you feel like you’re in the midst of the action. Variable speeds allow for experiments regarding the damage potential of different categories of tornadoes.
Pro: Teaches kids about the science of tornadoes.
Con: Will invariably destroy your child’s toy trailer park.

Build Your Own Hot Air BalloonBuild Your Own Hot Air Balloon
This large, do-it-yourself balloon, made of tissue paper and propelled by cooking oil funneled through a stove pipe, can fly up to 200 feet high. For children over 15 years old — like the tykes in this picture…?
Pro: Teaches kids about the science of ballooning.
Con: Do you need to ask?

For Adults:

InfoScan 2 Elite Scanning PenInfoScan 2 Elite Scanning Pen
This “pen” can scan 500 pages of text, which you can import into your computer. Or, use the pen’s dictionary to help understand the text, use the translator if the text is in another language, or use the audio function to hear it read aloud.
Pro: Makes for more efficient studying.
Con: You might forget how to read.

Like an iPod for the literarily inclined,’s Kindle stores e-books (plus newspapers and blogs) on a small hand-held electronic device for easy access anywhere.
Pro: Lets you keep 200 books at your fingertips at one time.
Con: Lets 200 books slip through your fingertips at one time.

Life Size SkeletonLife Size Skeleton
This full-sized plastic replica of a human skeleton is highly accurate and includes a movable jaw, removable arms and legs, and a removable calvarium (that’s the top of the skull).
Pro: Teaches you about anatomy and bone structure.
Con: You can never bring a date home.

Library KitPersonal Library Kit
This kit of library items — date stamp, insert cards, pockets, “For Reference Only”" stickers, pencils — lets you become a librarian of your own stock of books, in case freeloaders want to borrow them.
Pro: Helps you keep track of books you lend to your friends.
Con: You will lose all of your friends.

Teach Yourself IcelandicTeach Yourself Icelandic
This set includes two 60-minute CDs and a that book teach Icelandic to beginners in a graduated process that includes self-tests, vocabulary, pronunciation guides and a glossary.
Pro: Teaches you a new language.
Con: You might have to move to Iceland.

Shower Genius Waterproof NotepadShower Genius Waterproof Notepad
Special all-weather, waterproof paper allows you to write on this notepad in the shower, meaning that your genius ideas will never be lost.
Pro: Increases productivity by letting you write as you scrub your nether regions.
Con: Not enough hot water to finish your novel.

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  • Rolf Preisel

    I’ll gear this review to 2 types of people: current Zune owners who are considering an upgrade, and people trying to decide between a Zune and an iPod. (There are other players worth considering out there, like the Sony Walkman X, but I hope this gives you enough info to make an informed decision of the Zune vs players other than the iPod line as well.)Have you tried the ipad? you can get one free at