The Innovative Spirit The Innovative Spirit

17 Inventions That Could Make Going Back to School a Little Bit Easier

From an aromatic alarm clock to a school bus locator system, these patented products could help students and parents with the transition

(Shaylyn Esposito)
smithsonian.com

There are the staples of school supply lists: Elmer's glue, crayons, loose-leaf paper, pocket folders, three-ring binders and pencils. And then there are those less essential but highly desirable things—gel pens and scented markers, pencil cases and locker decorations—that spark store-aisle debates between parents and kids embarking on a new school year.

A search through the United States Patent and Trademark Office archives turns up loads of inventions that parents and children can appreciate this time of year. A walkie-talkie pen? How about a gumball-dispensing t-shirt for the first day? These 17 quirky products could ease the sometimes rocky transtion back to school.

The Robot Lunch Box

Open a special compartment in this lunch box, and it turns into a robot! The inventors of the product, patented in 1987, wanted to make their very own "Transformer," given the popularity of the cartoon series.

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