Sci/Tech

Empowering Teens through Smart Spending

(Family Features) Helping teens learn to handle money can be a tricky proposition. Mistakes can quite literally be costly, but there’s really no substitute for hands-on practice when it comes to managing finances.

Children are the ultimate investment, so teach your teen to be a smart spender with these savvy tips:

Start with saving. As a first step, open a savings account for your teen and involve them in the process. Use this opportunity to teach good habits, such as putting away a percentage of every paycheck, creating an emergency fund and setting savings goals for big purchases. Visit the bank together and explore the account options. Many banks offer incentives for high-balance accounts, and while your teen likely won’t qualify, it’s a valuable lesson to see the incentives available to big savers.

Move on to basic checking. Although most banks still refer to their most accessible accounts as “checking” accounts, chances are that your teen is more likely to shop with a debit card or cash rather than checks. Still, knowing how to write a proper check is an important life skill – as are conducting debit transactions and understanding any fees associated with using the account.

Create safe zones. Even after teaching them the fundamentals, letting teens make their own purchasing decisions can be a frightening prospect. Fortunately, if you know where to look, there are options available that offer teens a customizable level of autonomy while still under the oversight of a parent. For example, Amazon introduced a way for teens ages 13-17 to shop using their own, independent login linked to a parent’s account. In addition to product recommendations, order histories and lists tailored specifically to the teen’s shopping history and interests, teens can exercise smart shopping decisions with access to customer reviews and comparison shopping tools.

Parents have the option to review and approve every purchase, or set spending limits that offer teens the freedom to place orders up to a certain dollar amount on their own. In either case, parents receive notifications for every order and shipment. Find more details at Amazon.com/forteens.

Set a budget. Part of smart spending is learning to shop within your means. Whether your teen’s income is from a part-time job, allowance or a combination of the two, building a budget that defines expenses and expectations is essential. Like any budget, it should include all income sources and all expenses he or she is responsible for, including auto maintenance, gasoline, insurance and beyond. Reinforce the importance of saving by including a regular savings allocation. Putting all of these numbers to paper lets your teen see clearly where the money is going and how much is left over for extracurricular spending.

Put safety nets in place. No matter how much planning is done in advance, surprise expenses will inevitably pop up. Teens can prepare for these expenses while also guarding against mistakes and the temptation to over-spend by taking advantage of special services available through banking institutions, such as setting a per-transaction or daily spending limit and investing in overdraft coverage.

 

Ultimately, money management skills come with time and practice. Creating a safe environment for your teen to practice these life lessons sooner rather than later can pay dividends down the road.

 

 

Photo courtesy of Jeannette Kaplun, HispanaGlobal.net.

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Sci/Tech

Merry Ideas for Every Wish List

(Family Features) Brighten the holiday season for everyone on your shopping list with this sleigh full of gift ideas. With an assortment of thoughtful options, you can find everything you need to wrap up the seemingly endless quest of finding the right presents.

Check those names off your list and find space under the tree for gifts ranging from boxes of baked goods or steaks to a robotic car that teaches kids about programing to wardrobe accessories like boots and watches and even a wireless tech accessory for tunes on the go.

Find more gift ideas that can bring holiday cheer to everyone on your list at eLivingToday.com.

The Gift of Good Taste     

Take the guesswork out of giving with The Kansas City Steak Company’s Filet Mignon Gift Box, which includes four 8-ounce Super Trimmed Filet Mignon, cut from the finest Midwestern beef available and hand-trimmed for upscale quality and flavor. Items arrive in a signature gift box with an Original Steak Seasoning packet and a Kansas City Steak Book. Use the code GIFTFORYOU for a discount and free shipping, and find more gift ideas at KansasCitySteaks.com.

 

STEM in Motion

Put science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) subjects into motion this holiday season with the first calculator-controlled robotic car from Texas Instruments. Middle and high school students can program the TI-Innovator Rover using the TI graphing calculators they already own. The robotic car connects with the TI-Innovator Hub to help show kids that learning to program can be fun and easy. Learn more at education.ti.com/rover.

 

Gifting Goodies

Bring a smile to a loved one’s face by giving the gift of a sweet treat this holiday season with Dancing Deer Baking Co.’s scratch-baked cookies and brownies. With a blend of traditional artisan baking and unique flavor combinations, these baked goods come in packaged gifts perfect for the holiday season, such as this Classic Deer Gift Hamper. Use the code DEERJOY at checkout for 30 percent off your holiday gift purchase, and find more information at dancingdeer.com.

 

Sounds of the Season

Make sure those favorite holiday tunes are delivered the way they’re supposed to be heard with a pair of wireless, over-the-ear headphones. Available in multiple styles and colors, the headphones connect to your device via Bluetooth for wireless listening and buffer outside noise for immersive sound with maximum clarity and balance. In addition to controlling your music with the on-ear controls, many options allow the user to take calls directly from the headphones.

 

A Sleek, Stylish Gift

From a day at the office to a holiday gathering with friends and family, a fashionable, functional watch can be essential to pulling any man’s wardrobe together. With analog and digital faces available as well as a variety of strap options – from stainless steel to leather or canvas – there’s an option to fit nearly every style. Some watches even feature smart technology that can automatically track activity and monitor text messages and emails.

 

Fashion Meets Functionality

With the holiday season comes cooler temperatures and, oftentimes, less-than-ideal conditions like snow and ice. Help keep the feet of the women on your list warm and dry with on-trend footwear that is as functional as it is fashionable. With styles ranging from leather to sheepskin to suede, a pair of fashionable winter boots can provide increased traction and cushioning while remaining durable, breathable and flexible.

 

Photo courtesy of Getty Images (family opening gifts, headphones, watch, boots)

 

 

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Sci/Tech

Practical Ways to Promote STEM Learning

(Family Features) Demand for workers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers continues to explode. Data from the U.S. Department of Education predicts that growth opportunities in these fields will increase 14 percent by 2020. One way to nurture kids’ long-term potential is to make learning STEM subjects fun, hands-on and interactive.

Whether you’re looking for fresh ideas to shake things up in the classroom or planning activities to share with the family at home, consider these creative approaches to increasing students’ interest in STEM topics.

Take a field trip: When learning occurs outside the confines of a classroom, it can create unexpected sparks of interest. Build classroom field trips or family outings around destinations that offer unique ways to highlight STEM subjects. For example, setting up a tour of a local baseball stadium may be a chance to get up close and personal with the game and the field, but it’s also a way to discuss the math behind baseball. Similarly, a visit to an indoor skydiving facility is more than just exposure to an extreme sport; it’s an opportunity to learn about terminal velocity and gravity. Additional options include an outdoor nature lesson, manufacturing facility, planetarium or local farm.

 Introduce robotics: Between self-driving cars, drones that can aid in rescue efforts and robots that assist as a “butler” for day-to-day tasks, the future of robotics is here now. Researchers at Brandeis University found that students involved in robotics are two times more likely to take more challenging math and science courses and two times more likely to pursue STEM careers.

One option to increase students’ interest in robotics is the TI-Innovator Rover, a robotic car that introduces middle school and high school students to the basics of coding and programming. Students without any coding or robotics experience can learn to write basic programs on their TI graphing calculators that make Rover do things like draw, dance or even crash. Learn more about the first calculator-controlled robotic car at education.ti.com/rover.

Career show and tell: Seek out speakers or mentors who have real-world STEM careers, ranging from more traditional STEM fields like scientists or engineers to more unexpected jobs that use STEM principles every day, such as a fashion designer or an ice cream flavor scientist. Encourage kids to get hands-on with these careers by having guests both show and tell how they use math and science every day. For example, students can measure and cut materials to make a circle skirt, an unexpected lesson in geometry. Or they can scoop up a physics lesson on states of matter as milk transforms into ice cream.
Cook up some fun: When it comes to bucking tradition, the kitchen may not be the first place you think of to drive home the benefits of STEM learning. However, the kitchen is a perfect place to explore the chemistry of combining ingredients and hone math skills such as dividing fractions when splitting a recipe.

Solve real-world problems: Give students an opportunity to think through a real problem and come up with a solution. For example, challenge them to solve how they would create low-cost options for filtering water in countries without clean water. Through trial and error, students can learn that failure is OK and sometimes leads to a better solution.
 

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Sci/Tech

SCI/TECH

Science in Everyday Life

Science in Everyday Life

Science in Everyday Life

(Family Features) During the school year, educators and parents often look for activities to spark creativity and engage kids to help enhance their educations. Additionally, school districts constantly search for new ways to inspire and pique children’s interest through project-based learning to increase results in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) standardized testing.

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