Back in junior high, my school forced the kids to gather every textbook for all five morning classes before the day started, so you'd have to lug something like 500 pounds of books from class to class, leading to outbreaks of mass bitching and scoliosis. The digital age brings with it the potential to lighten loads like that, but it would take an idea like Prashant Chandra's SchoolPack (actually spelled sChOOLpack, but that looks ridiculous) to make it a reality.
The SchoolPack, just a concept right now, is essentially a fancy laptop that kids can carry like a backpack. It folds open to reveal a touchscreen/tablet that kids can write on as well as a regular LCD for textbooks and graphics. Each subject is stored on a separate hard drive, containing both the text and the student's notes. There's no keyboard (at least not a physical one) — just basic controls like "next" and "previous" for the text screen, with more detailed commands presumably coming from the touchscreen.
Check out some more detailed renderings of the SchoolPack in action by following the link below.
Click on each rendering to see a larger image.
It's an ambitious concept, and we don't mind any ideas that might lead to fewer trees being sacrificed, though Chandra's plan of parents getting their kids one schoolpack for their entire academic career — and forgetting about pens, pencils and erasers — is clearly in the land of fiction. Still, my sore back would have welcomed a plan like this back in 8th Grade. Why not try it, PS 27, and see how it goes?