April 5, 2013 6:23 pm

Barometer: tech

Beat the forecast with these stylish indoor and outdoor accessories – plus a science fair from a school in Silicon Valley
Clockwise from left: Dyson Hot + Cool, Senz Umbrella, Sony Waterproof Walkman NWZ-W273, Haglöfs Laptop Drybag, Thermodo

Clockwise from left: Dyson Hot + Cool, Senz Umbrella, Sony Waterproof Walkman NWZ-W273, Haglöfs Laptop Drybag, Thermodo

Whatever the weather

Dyson Hot + Cool

A heater to turn a room tropical, with bladeless delivery system and a maximum temperature of 37°C. From £299.99, www.dyson.co.uk

. . .

Senz Umbrella

This brolly is stormproof for gusts up to 100 km per hour and furnished with a two-year warranty. €49.95, www.senzumbrellas.com

. . .

Sony Waterproof Walkman NWZ-W273

This waterproof MP3 player comes with 4gb of memory and an eight-hour battery life. £59, www.sony.co.uk

More

IN Pursuits

. . .

Haglöfs Laptop Drybag

A padded and waterproof case – ideal if your walk to work feels more like a swim. From £23.07, www.haglofs.com

. . .

Thermodo

Complain with unnerving accuracy about just how cold the office is with this plug-in thermometer for smartphones. From $25, www.thermodo.com

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Silicon notebook

By April Dembosky in San Francisco

Cool kinda parents

It was a science fair on steroids. That’s how the teachers at The Nueva School in Hillsborough, California described their recent annual showcase of student science creations. But really, expectations were never low for a school nestled in Silicon Valley.

When students’ parents work at the top technology companies in the US, or have several start-ups of their own, school science projects achieve a decidedly advanced flair. Students here spend afternoons in the school’s “Innovation Lab”, building robots out of Lego or programming the 3D printer.

The science fair featured a series of creations from the iLab, along with a more traditional piece of hardware from the younger kids: an automatic peanut-butter-and-jam-sandwich-making machine. One dad guided the first-graders in building the mechanism, which sent a bowling ball down a wooden ramp, which triggered a series of ropes and pulleys that squirted jam on to the bread, then sent a marble down half a dozen switchbacks to activate a giant wooden scissor mechanism that slapped the two pieces of bread together in a dramatic finish.

“Parents say ‘It’s my school, too,’” says Kim Saxe, the director of the Innovation Lab. And their involvement at Nueva goes way beyond managing the annual bake sale. These mums and dads want to share their professional skills, from serving on finance committees to teaching kids design through a paper-aeroplane-making workshop. Jef Raskin, who helped develop the Macintosh computer at Apple in the late 1970s, spent an afternoon launching the paper planes in test flights from the second-floor balcony of the classroom building.

The school even started its own entrepreneurship class, with the help of one of the dads, Steve Vassallo, a partner at Foundation Capital. Nine-, 10- and 11-year-olds work in groups to write a business plan, then present it to a panel of bona fide venture capitalists in seven-minute pitches, PowerPoints included.

“Some of the best presentations were as good as the best I’ve seen at business schools,” Vassallo said, remembering one social venture for a remote appendectomy kit for the developing world, and a business idea for a three-in-one premium shower head. “I have this conviction that we’re naturally entrepreneurial and kids who start early are not afraid of the things that are required to start a business,” he added.

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