Factor’s Gift Guide: 10 Gifts for Tech-Loving Children

If you’re not sure what to buy for a science, tech or gadget-loving kid, do not fear. We have a host of options that are sure to bring delight well beyond December 25th.

Jr. Astronaut Helmet

£45 from the Science Museum Shop

jr-astronaut-helmet

For all the space cadets out there, this helmet is the perfect gift to help them blast off. With details such as an oxygen vent, pressure indicator and a button to automatically open the visor, this is a must-have for any budding astronauts. Press one of the buttons to activate a countdown with realistic blast off sounds, and enjoy the wonders of space through fresh eyes.

FUZE T2-A Workstation with Raspberry Pi

£149.99 from Fuze

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Any kid out there with an interest in programming is sure to appreciate this. Combining the simplicity of the Raspberry Pi Version 3 with a whole host of other gear from FUZE, this is a great kit to get kids into computing at an earlier age.  Pre-loaded with FUZE BASIC, and coming with the FUZE BASIC Programmer’s Reference Guide, this is perfect for any young Turings out there.

Y Flyer Red

£129.99 from Yvolution

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The all-new release from Yvolution, the Y Flyer Red features a fun and unique forward propelling motion with a sort of bike-scooter combination. Super grip foot plates provide ultimate control, while a quick-response handbrake ensures fast stopping. With a folding frame for easy storage and transport, the Y Flyer Red is a brand new way for your kids to get out and get moving.

ReimaGo Activity Sensor

£39 from Snow and Rock

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A fun new way to motivate kids to move and play outdoors, the ReimaGo is an activity sensor based on Suunto’s Movesense technology, which measures a kid’s physical activity during the day. Using an app that offers parents the ability to set rewards, and kids the chance to transform their activity scores into energy for a virtual character, the ReimaGo is sure to get little ones exercising.

Cubetto Programmable Robot

£159 from Primo

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Montessori approved, and LOGO Turtle inspired, the Cubetto is a friendly wooden robot that offers young children easily accessible programming. Powered by a playful programming language that the kids can actually touch, Cubetto offers simple access to the foundation of computing. Coming with a world map and story book, this is a toy that allows your kids to go on an adventure and also get a head start on programming.

Kurio Watch

£79.99 from F Hinds

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The ultimate watch for kids, the Kurio is preloaded with 20 apps for motion gaming, education and social communication. Able to take pictures, edit photos with effects, record videos, text and play music and videos, the Kurio brings everything but the kitchen sink. With a rechargeable battery and even more features than already mentioned, it’s sure to keep kids entertained and active.

Cardventures: Stowaway 52

£9.99 from Amazon

stowaway-52

Stowaway 52 is a Cardventure, an interactive story that puts players in control of the outcome as they try to score the maximum points. Set aboard an alien ship, it’s up to the players to stop the extra-terrestrial attack on Earth. A game that reinforces language and vocabulary development skills, if you’re having any trouble getting your kids reading, this is the perfect way to get them involved.

DIY Electro Dough Kit

£20 from Technology Will Save Us

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If Playdough is no longer hitting the spot, here’s a gift to take it to the next level. After creating scenes and sculptures with the dough, this kit helps your kids learn how electricity works and gives them a chance to play with lights, buzzers and switches.  With hours’ worth of online resources available, you’re sure to have a host of creations to bring to life with light and sound.

4D National Geographic: Imperial China

£21.99 from Amazon

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The world’s first multi-layer jigsaw puzzle to teach history at the same time, this 4D puzzle combines physical puzzling with an app to make history interactive. Consisting of 613 puzzle pieces that make up a historical map and 26 model replica monuments and buildings, the learning truly begins once assembly is finished.  Kids can learn key facts through the app, view beautiful images of the monuments or even test themselves with trivia.

3Doodler 2.0 Set

£9.99 from the Science Museum Shop

3doodler

The world’s first 3D printing pen fully redesigned, the 3Doodler 2.0 is even smaller and lighter than the original. Extruding a thin, flexible filament of heated plastic that quickly hardens, the pen allows the user to draw three dimensional shapes in real time. With just a little practice and parental supervision, kids can soon be creating 3D masterpieces, working just as if they were drawing with a pen. The only limit is imagination.

School will use facial analysis to identify students who are dozing off

In September the ESG business school in Paris will begin using artificial intelligence and facial analysis to determine whether students are paying attention in class. The school says the technology will be used to improve performance of students and professors.

Source: The Verge

Company offers free training for coal miners to become wind farmers

A Chinese wind-turbine maker wants American workers to retrain and become wind farmers. The training program was announced at an energy conference in Wyoming, where the American arm of Goldwind, a Chinese wind-turbine manufacturer is located.

Source: Quartz

Google AI defeats human Go champion

Google's DeepMind AI AlphaGo has defeated the world's number one Go player Ke Jie. AlphaGo secured the victory after winning the second game in a three-part match. DeepMind founder Demis Hassabis said Ke Jie "pushed AlphaGo right to the limit".

Source: BBC

Vegan burgers that taste like real meat to hit Safeway stores

Beyond Meat, which promises its plant-based burgers bleed and sizzle like real ground beef and is backed by investors like Bill Gates, will begin distributing its plant-based burgers in more than 280 Safeway stores in California, Hawaii and Nevada.

Source: Bloomberg

The brain starts to eat itself after chronic sleep deprivation

Brain cells that destroy and digest worn-out cells and debris go into overdrive in mice that are chronically sleep-deprived. The discovery could explain why a chronic lack of sleep puts people at risk of neurological disorders like Alzheimer’s disease.

Source: New Scientist

"We can still act and it won’t be too late," says Obama

Former US President Barack Obama has written an op-ed piece in the Guardian giving his views on some of the greatest challenges facing the world – food and climate change – and what we can do about them. "We can still act and it won’t be too late," writes Obama.

Source: The Guardian

Juno mission: Jupiter’s magnetic field is even weirder than expected

It has long been known that Jupiter has the most intense magnetic field in the solar system, but the first round of results from NASA’s Juno mission has revealed that it is far stronger and more misshapen than scientists predicted.

Announcing the findings of the spacecraft’s first data-collection pass, which saw Juno fly within 2,600 miles (4,200km) of Jupiter on 27th August 2016, NASA mission scientists revealed that the planet far surpassed the expectations of models.

Measuring Jupiter’s magnetosphere using Juno’s magnetometer investigation (MAG) tool, they found that the planet’s magnetic field is even stronger than models predicted, at 7.766 Gaus: 10 times stronger than the strongest fields on Earth.

Furthermore, it is far more irregular in shape, prompting a re-think about how it could be generated.

“Juno is giving us a view of the magnetic field close to Jupiter that we’ve never had before,” said Jack Connerney, Juno deputy principal investigator and magnetic field investigation lead at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center in Greenbelt, Maryland.

“Already we see that the magnetic field looks lumpy: it is stronger in some places and weaker in others.

An enhanced colour view of Jupiter’s south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Gabriel Fiset. Featured image courtesy of NASA/SWRI/MSSS/Gerald Eichstädt/Seán Doran

At present, scientists cannot say for certain why or how Jupiter’s magnetic field is so peculiar, but they do already have a theory: that the field is not generated from the planet’s core, but in a layer closer to its surface.

“This uneven distribution suggests that the field might be generated by dynamo action closer to the surface, above the layer of metallic hydrogen,” said Connerney.

However, with many more flybys planned, the scientists will considerable opportunities to learn more about this phenomenon, and more accurately pinpoint the bizarre magnetic field’s cause.

“Every flyby we execute gets us closer to determining where and how Jupiter’s dynamo works,” added Connerney.

With each flyby, which occurs every 53 days, the scientists are treated to a 6MB haul of newly collected information, which takes around 1.5 days to transfer back to Earth.

“Every 53 days, we go screaming by Jupiter, get doused by a fire hose of Jovian science, and there is always something new,” said Scott Bolton, Juno principal investigator from the Southwest Research Institute in San Antonio.

A newly released image of Jupiter’s stormy south pole. Image courtesy of NASA/JPL-Caltech/SwRI/MSSS/Betsy Asher Hall/Gervasio Robles

An unexpected magnetic field was not the only surprise from the first data haul. The mission also provided a first-look at Jupiter’s poles, which are unexpectedly covered in swirling, densely clustered storms the size of Earth.

“We’re puzzled as to how they could be formed, how stable the configuration is, and why Jupiter’s north pole doesn’t look like the south pole,” said Bolton. “We’re questioning whether this is a dynamic system, and are we seeing just one stage, and over the next year, we’re going to watch it disappear, or is this a stable configuration and these storms are circulating around one another?”

Juno’s Microwave Radiometer (MWR) also threw up some surprises, with some of the planet’s belts appearing to penetrate down to its surface, while others seem to evolve into other structures. It’s a curious phenomenon, and one which the scientists hope to better explore on future flybys.

“On our next flyby on July 11, we will fly directly over one of the most iconic features in the entire solar system – one that every school kid knows – Jupiter’s Great Red Spot,” said Bolton.

“If anybody is going to get to the bottom of what is going on below those mammoth swirling crimson cloud tops, it’s Juno and her cloud-piercing science instruments.”