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We test six of the best scientific gadgets this week

Published 03/03/2016

The Tronex Amazing 144+ Science Lab Electronic Kit, £29.99
The Tronex Amazing 144+ Science Lab Electronic Kit, £29.99
USB Digital Microscope with 400x Magnification, £39.99
Project Mc2 Circuit Beats, £22.49
Universe to go
Science Maxi Fueling Future Cars from Ravensburger

It's British Science Week from March 11-20 and these devices will help you celebrate. Polly Weeks reports.

Hit the lab

Tronex Amazing 144+ Science Lab Electronic Kit, £29.99, from www.maplin.co.uk

Science kits have always been a popular educational toy for children, and this one, which focuses on electronics, will be just as well received as the traditional type. Suitable for those aged eight and over, it's packed with capabilities - 144 to be specific. You can make a fan fly, create music and even make a doorbell sound - just pop in some AA batteries and use the accompanying wires to connect the various sections. The board itself is bright and flashy - perfect for catching children's attention and, most importantly, they won't even realise they are learning.

Great scope

USB Digital Microscope with 400x Magnification, £39.99, from www.maplin.co.uk

Who needs gigantic (and expensive) microscopes when this little gizmo will do the job easily. First things first, you'll need to pop the USB connecting the device into your PC and then install the CD-Rom on to your computer. Once that's up and running, it's worth just having a little play around with the software so you can get to grips with it and choose your preferences. Then, it's a case of pointing the microscope at the item you want to study, turning the focus wheel until it's clear and then either taking a photo or video of it (using the software). You'll need to jot down the magnification ratio so you can examine the item in closer detail on your computer. It's straightforward to use, small enough to keep in a desk drawer when not in use and will get children and adults alike interested in science.

Circuit training

Project Mc2 Circuit Beats, £22.49, from www.smythstoys.com

Don't think dolls can inspire children to get into science? The Project Mc2 girls will change your mind. Created to show that it's cool to love tech and science, there are four characters: McKeyla, who's into literature, 'culinary chemist' Adrienne, queen of technology Bryden and finally Camryn, who's into construction. Like any doll set, there are accessories to play with and something that's particularly suited to the Bryden's out there is this toy. Children can create their own electrical circuit which turns everyday objects into musical instruments - for example, a piece of fruit (when the wire connects to an object it completes the circuit). Music is played through speakers on a cat ear headband.

Full of energy

Ravensburger Science Maxi Fueling Future Cars, currently priced £26.80, from www.amazon.co.uk

We're constantly being warned that the world's oil supplies are depleting and that when it comes to motors, electric cars are the future. So why not encourage the next generation of engineers? This science kit (suitable for ages eight and over) gives children the task of putting an electric motored car together (they may well need the help of an adult for parts). Along the way they get to conduct experiments - there's even a super capacitor to store energy in.

A breath of fresh air

CleanSpace Tag, £75, from store.clean.space

This nifty smartphone-sized gadget will help science fans with an interest in environmental issues. Created by former Labour Science Minister, Lord Drayson, it monitors the pollution levels you come face-to-face with. Download the corresponding app and connect the tag to your phone via Bluetooth, then off you go. If you're walking, running or riding your bike in areas that are orange (not good) or red (terrible air), you'll be encouraged to try different routes to take in good air (green). In addition to the health benefits, there's another incentive to take "green" routes. For every clean mile that you notch up, you'll be given reward points which can be exchanged for treats - for example a voucher to use at a gym. On top of all of this, it uses Freevolt which harvests energy around us emitted by broadcast waves, 3G, 4G and WiFi - so there are no batteries to change.

Out of this world

Universe2go - The Personal Planetarium, £69, from www.universe2go.com

Whether you live in an area where light pollution restricts your viewing of the night sky, or you can't bear to wait until darkness falls, this viewer makes learning about space as easy as Pi. Download the Universe2go app and pop your phone into the device. Then, look through the viewer and, as you move your head, you'll see constellations and planets right in front of you. Hover above them and you'll be told (as long as your volume's turned on) all about them. Control the device via head movements - a swipe down will bring you to the menu where there are different level options. Galaxies may be far, far away, but with this gizmo, they are right in front of your eyes.

App of the week

Periodic Table By Royal Society of Chemistry, free from App Store and Google Play

Given it's the RSC that has developed this app, you can rest assured it will answer all your questions about the periodic table. With facts, videos and even a podcast available, it's a great aid to both chemistry students and those who are keen to learn more about science.

Top 10 bestselling iPhone apps

1. Face Swap Live - Switch faces with friends and photos in live video by Laan Labs

2. Minecraft: Pocket Edition by Mojang

3. Heads Up! by Warner Bros

4. The Official DVSA Theory Test Kit for Car Drivers by TSO (The Stationery Office)

5. Facetune by Lightricks Ltd

6. 7 Minute Workout Challenge by Fitness Guide Inc

7. Monopoly Game by Electronic Arts

8. Football Manager Mobile 2016 by SEGA

9. Ski Tracks by Core Coders Ltd

10. Plague Inc. by Ndemic Creations

Belfast Telegraph

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