On the surface, Brainspace magazine doesn’t look remarkably different from other kids’ magazines, yet every issue displays its publisher’s and editors’ dedication to “reinvent educational magazines” and “bridge the gap between print and digital technology.”
Each 38-page issue is filled with engaging, educational, science or science-related stories and activities, experiments, short items, cartoons, and contests—all accompanied with eye-catching photos and high-quality graphics. While the content is age-appropriate, it aims high and never talks down to readers.
Recent issues include articles ranging from the 150th birthday of the Periodic Table and orbital debris to the science behind fireworks and the power of imagination. Hands-on projects include building a xylophone, analyzing the aerodynamics of paper planes, and taste testing your taste buds’ acuity.
Brainspace separates itself from the pack in its use of interactive digital-image recognition technology. Download the free Zappar app to your Apple or Android device, and then, as you’re reading, scan any image in the magazine marked with the lightning-bolt Zap icon and watch that image come alive on your phone screen with video and/or sound augmentation. An article on Solar Storms, for instance, shows a photo of a sun burst that, when aiming your cellphone’s Zap app at it, becomes a video of the entire solar explosion sequence. On the Build Your Own Xylophone project, watch a step-by-step video of how to do it. A recent issue’s zap video demonstrating a surface-tension experiment is worth a thousand words that will inspire your kids to get the everyday ingredients and give it a try.
If there’s a downside, it’s that every zap image is not teched-up equally. Not every augmented-reality experience is blow-away amazing, and sometimes technology glitches occur. But pioneering can be a challenge, and Brainspace is taking on that challenge in an unusually compelling way.
Don Oldenburg ©2020 Parents’ Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of “The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion” (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.