Kids Can Learn the Basics of Coding With This Toy Train Set That Uses Tape for Tracks

The LoCoMoGo Train teaches kids coding basics without the screens.
The LoCoMoGo Train teaches kids coding basics without the screens.
LoCoMoGo

Knowing code gives individuals access to a wide array of fast-growing careers. And now kids can learn the basics without being glued to a screen with the LoCoMoGo Train, a toy train set available on Kickstarter that helps children ages 4-12 learn code during playtime through the use of simple color-coded cars.

It all starts when a child taps the top of the red LoCoMotive car, which will automatically follow the route designated by tape that's laid down on any surface, so there are no cumbersome plastic tracks necessary. From there, kids can start building out their unique train with cars that have different functions, like a “color car” that reacts to different colors of tape on the track. For example, if there's green tape laid down, then the car will accelerate, and if there's blue tape down, the car's lights will flash. It's this "if-then" logic that helps teach the basics of coding without the need for a screen.

But when coding, screen time is inevitable, and the next way LoGoMoGo expands a child's personal coding toolbox is through the LoCoMoGo app, which is still being developed. When it’s complete, it will allow kids to use a simple drag-and-drop design to change the functions of the train tracks digitally, offer individualized learning plans, and feature regular updates with new challenges. When paired with the app through the LoCoMoGo "connectivity car," a child can touch their screen to customize what action each tape color performs. The campaign also promises the app will move beyond drag-and-drop coding and eventually teach kids about programming in C.

Currently, the LoCoMoGo Train is available on Kickstarter beginning at $99, which will get you the company's starter LoCoMotive car, along with tape to make the tracks. But if you pledge $276, you'll receive the LoCoMotive as well as two additional cars (color and connectivity) and access to the app.

It’s never too late to get the family on board with learning coding. Check out the Potato Pirates board game, which teaches players ages 7 and up coding basics without screens; it’s available on Amazon for $16.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Make Your Own Ship in a Bottle With This LEGO Set

This particular design was based off an idea from a long-time LEGO fan.
This particular design was based off an idea from a long-time LEGO fan.
LEGO/Amazon

Building a ship in a bottle doesn’t need to be a stodgy affair—especially when you’re doing it with LEGO bricks.

The 962-piece set ($70 on Amazon) is based on a design from Jake Sadovich, a longtime LEGO fan from Idaho. Sadovich spent three weeks designing his own version of a ship in a bottle using 1400 LEGO bricks before uploading images of the finished result to the LEGO Ideas site in November 2016. His project received the 10,000 supporters it needed to garner a review from the LEGO team in less than two months, and in August 2017, the company green-lit plans to build and sell an official set based on his design.

A LEGO ship in the bottle with the box.
Despite the ship's small size it has a lot of features.
LEGO/Amazon

Placed inside a bottle made of transparent bricks, the miniature ship boasts plenty of detailed features for its 5-inch-long size, including sails, six cannons, a crow’s nest, a compass (sorry, it isn’t a working one), and a flag. There's even a wax-sealed cork built out of LEGO bricks, too, as well as small LEGO pieces designed to serve as the water beneath the ship.

Some of the other fan-submitted LEGO Ideas projects the company has brought to life include the NASA Apollo Saturn V ($200) and a replica of the Central Perk set from Friends ($60).

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

Sling TV’s 14-Day Free Trial Gives You Access to Countless Movies and Shows, No Credit Card Required

Sling's 14-day free trial doesn't require a credit card, so you won't accidentally be charged once it's up.
Sling's 14-day free trial doesn't require a credit card, so you won't accidentally be charged once it's up.
Prostock-Studio/iStock via Getty Images Plus

You’ve probably encountered more than one so-called free trial that required you to input a credit card to access it. And if you’re like many of us, you have probably forgotten to cancel the trial before the free period ended—more than once. But Sling TV is looking to offer users a free trial that’s, well, actually free. From now until April 5, new subscribers can access over 50,000 on-demand movies, 45 channels, and more during their free 14-day trial, no credit card required.

Fittingly dubbed the “Quarantine Special,” the free trial gives viewers access to a Sling Blue subscription, which offers channels like CNN, MSNBC, Bravo, A&E, Cartoon Network, Nick Jr., and more. The Blue subscription also allows you to stream on up to three devices simultaneously and record live shows on their cloud DVR.

Rather than having to sign up for a long-term contract like with traditional cable, Sling is a month-to-month service that allows you to stream content to your TV or computer/smartphone through web browsers, Roku, Amazon, iOS, and Android devices.

After the free trial, you have the option of signing up for the Sling Blue or Orange subscription, both of which are $20 for the first month and then $30 after that. There are a few key differences between the two. According to Tom’s Guide, with Orange, you won’t have access to NBC networks. And with Blue, you won’t be able to watch ESPN or the Disney Channel. Orange only lets you stream on one device at a time, whereas with Blue, you can stream on up to three simultaneously. However, you can swap between the two for no extra cost, or you could combine the subscriptions for $45 a month.

Much like Sling, Disney Plus also allows subscribers to enjoy seven days (with a credit card) for no cost, and you can get more details by heading here. And if you're looking for more ways to save money as a cord-cutter, check out our guide on the cheapest ways to do so.

At Mental Floss, we only write about the products we love and want to share with our readers, so all products are chosen independently by our editors. Mental Floss has affiliate relationships with certain retailers and may receive a percentage of any sale made from the links on this page. Prices and availability are accurate as of the time of publication.

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