Crazy electronics for back-to-school I

Crazy electronics for school: the practical, the impractical and the cheap

August 26th, 2013
Know what this is? A solar-powered backpack, that's what.

Know what this is? A solar-powered backpack, that’s what.

By Aimee Heckel

Studies tell us that kids learn better when they’re having fun. So does common sense. With technology, the creative and fun possibilities are virtually endless.

Here are some of our favorite back-to-school gadgets that can make your kids’ school year fun — and how to save money on them, too.

THE PRACTICAL: A solar-powered backpack.

Until they can invent a cell phone that can hold a charge for more than half a day, we can all need a solar-powered backpack. sells this brilliant invention for $119.99.

Put the solar panel on your kid’s existing backpack, and while he walks to school or plays on the playground, this pack charges up. Plug electronics into the backpack to charge — so your kiddo is no longer chained to a wall indoors. Bring your backpack charging station to the park and write an essay under a tree in the grass, without having to worry about a power source.

This is the perfect way to get kids outdoors, but within the modern constraints of a techno-savvy educational system.

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THE IMPRACTICAL: An interactive T-shirt.

This is an example of technology put to its finest use. Practical? Life-saving? Well, no. But awesome? All the way.

ThinkGeek has an entire page dedicated to interactive T-shirts — shirts with guitars and synthesizers you can play. Does an electronic drum kit shirt get you extra credit in band class? The wifi detector shirt, $14.99, comes with a built-in wifi detector — perfect to help you find that free wifi to log on to (OK, this one’s actually pretty practical). Draw on your shirt with a UV laser with the laser interactive shirt.

Kids these days. And we thought Hypercolor was amazing.

Note: The kids’ electronic guitar shirt is super cheap — only $4.99!

THE CHEAP: Shop the sales.

Check out ThinkGeek’s sale page for other cool gadgets and inventions majorly marked down. For example, find an iPad joystick for $3.99 (67 percent off) and a Chewbacca messenger bag for $71.99 — wait, what? That’s a thing?

Yes, it so is a thing.

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Aimee's passion for storytelling has brought her around the world as a journalist, writing award-winning news articles about Haiti and Uganda. Aimee studied international journalism at the University of Heidelberg in Germany, and she majored in journalism and German at Colorado State University. When she's not writing stories for a Colorado newspaper, she travels and volunteers for Think Humanity, her family's nonprofit that helps refugees and disadvantaged people in Africa. She's also a mom, a wife and a furious bargain-hunter. Reach out to her at, find her travel board on Pinterest, follow her on Twitter, or ping her on Google+.

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