Playing for the Future: 5 Alternative Energy Toys

For many of us, kids are already back in school. Trying to ramp up after the summer slump can sometimes be painful, whether it's getting the kids up earlier or transitioning from thinking about a day in the pool to thinking about a day filled with math, reading, and social studies. Perhaps you can make the adjustment easier with one of these futuristic toys, all of which explore alternative energies and get your kids thinking about science.

1. Owi T3 Transforming Solar Robot, $16 at RobotShop. A Transformer for the future, the T3 changes into a Tank, Robot, and Scorpion. Its animated movements are all powered by a solar fuel cell.

2. Stirling Engine Kit, $50 at ThinkGeek. The Stirling engine is not new; in fact, it was invented nearly 200 years ago as an alternative to the steam engine. It seems to run on air, but it's actually powered by the heat of your—or your kid's—hand.

3. Solar Powered Hydrogen Car, $90 at Sharper Image. This car uses multiple energy sources, including a hydrogen fuel cell combined with solar power. So your kids can have a car that runs on water and sunlight.

4. Enviro Battery
, $12 at Fat Brain Toys. Learn a myriad of different alternative energy sources with this kit. Your kids can use natural materials like mud, lemons, and water to power a light bulb, a watch, and to activate a music chip.

5. OWI Salt Water Fuel Cell Car
, $13.34 at Amazon. Solar powered cars are great, but how about one that runs on salt water? The small magnesium metal sheet in the vehicle can power the car for 5 - 7 hours continuously when you add a drop of salt water.

So how about it? Are you prepping your kids for the economy of the future?

(Images: as linked above)