Even in the age of Google Earth, physical globes remain a great way for kids to learn about geography and earth science. Being able to touch and spin and point to a location on a map can be more satisfying than interacting with a screen. Still, digital globes do have one advantage: The data on them never has to go out of date.
Now, a physical globe has the same advantage. The SmartGlobe Infinity by Oregon Scientific comes with a Smart Pen that delivers information about countries or regions as you tap on them. The pen, which stores this data, comes equipped with Bluetooth connectivity to sync with a free app for iOS or Android tablets, keeping both the Smart Pen and the SmartGlobe always up to date.
Though some update limitations exist — the printing on the globe won't change if countries change names or borders shift — the pen can inform kids of this. The accompanying apps use digital globes that will always show correct names and borders, and the difference between the two can provide an interesting learning experience.
The Smart Pen can hold data for more than one SmartGlobe, so parents can add additional accessory globes for even greater learning opportunities. This year, Oregon Scientific will put out a star chart globe to teach kids about the constellations and the stories and myths behind their names, as well as a globe for learning about cultures and societies across the world (rather than only geographical facts).
The SmartGlobe Infinity is expected to come out this fall, probably around back-to-school time and definitely before the holidays.
Price: Keep your eye on oregonscientific.com (don't confuse it with the SmartGlobe Horizon currently for sale)