One of the most exciting things about the start of the school year for most students is the pre-school year shopping trip to collect all new supplies for the coming year. Is there anything more satisfying than a brand new box of crayons or a freshly-sharpened Ticonderoga #2? We're trying hard to think of something, but are coming up empty. In honor of all of those eager youngsters getting ready to expand their intellectual horizons, we found a few pretty cool school supplies we'd like to share. Our only requirement when putting together this school supply shopping list was that it could only include school supplies that we would have thought were cool and would have actually used if we were still in grade school. We think you'll agree with our choices.  

Mechanical Pencil with Battery Operated Spinning Eraser (App. No. 11/684,850)

Mechanical pencils are always cooler than old-fashioned pencils, but this mechanical pencil has an electric spinning eraser, making it the coolest mechanical pencil out there. Ostensibly designed to eliminate the back-and-forth smudging of traditional erasers that can often make holes in the paper, this device makes erasing a breeze. This is one that will most definitely make the other kids jealous. 

Umbrella backpack and deployment mechanism (App. No. 13/532,780)

With all of the textbooks even elementary school students are required to carry these days, there's not much room for anything else in their backpacks. Add this to the reality that children don't check the weather reports often and are likely to forget to take an umbrella with them. This backpack with a built-in umbrella solves that problem. It comes with a deployment mechanism that, when launched, automatically opens the umbrella out of its housing in the backpack and positions it over the user's head. No more soaking wet children and ruined books!

Wristwatch calculator (U.S. Patent No. 3,803,834)

Although a wristwatch calculator may be a little outdated (the patent was granted in 1974), we still found the idea to be pretty interesting. It includes an 8-digit electro-optical display that includes time and calendar information when in the time mode, and the results of a computation when in the calculator mode. It's basically a 1970s version of the Apple Watch.

Stretchable fabric book cover and method (U.S. Patent No. 7,758,077) 

It's 2016. Gone are the days of cheap, paper bag book covers. These stretchy fabric book covers are hardier than previous incarnations and provide more durable protection for books by stretching to cover books of almost any size. They also come in a variety of designs, allowing children to show off a little flair with their book covers. 

Lunchbox with voice recording mechanism for message delivery (U.S. Patent No. 6,347,706)

This nifty little lunchbox allows for communication between a parent and a child. A lot of parents leave notes in their children's lunch boxes, but this goes a step further by allowing them to actually speak to a child. This is especially useful for younger children who can't read yet or who are prone to homesickness. Another useful feature for forgetful children is that it can be used as a reminder. For a example, a parent could say something like "don't forget to bring your math book home tonight." We know this would have been extremely useful for us in our younger days...

Telescoping case (U.S. Patent No. 7,980,387)

Okay, maybe the only thing better than a fresh box of crayons is a telescoping case of crayons that allows all of them to be displayed in a magnificent burst of color. This is a much more sophisticated system than a simple old box, and also eliminates the problem of crayons chipping off onto each other and muddling their colors. Any student with this device is bound to be the envy of art class. 

Graphing calculator having touchscreen display unit (App. No. EP20090161884)

For older students, particularly high schoolers, a graphing calculator is a must. Most schools provide these, but the really savvy students bring their own. Fortunately, we've come a long way from the TI-83. This handy graphing calculator with a touchscreen allows users to visualize how their graphing equations work and has the potential to actually make algebra fun!

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