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15 Back-to-School Products for Grownups

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There’s no reason for kids to have a monopoly on the joy of “back to school shopping.” Whether or not you’ll be continuing your education this fall, share in the spoils by stocking up on some of the season’s coolest, handiest, and most fun office supplies. (Your coworkers will be jealous.)

1. POST-IT SUPER STICKY NOTES; $4.88

Post-it

The dull yellow sticky notes available in your office’s supply closet are due for an upgrade. The super sticky notes in Post-it Brand’s World of Color Collection—which includes colors inspired by Morocco, Miami, Bali, New York, and more—come in bold, saturated hues that will liven up your desk.

Find it: Amazon

2. POST-IT POP UP CAMERA NOTE DISPENSER; $24.89

Post-it

Keep your Post-it Notes within easy reach with this whimsical dispenser, which doubles as a paperweight.

Find it: Amazon

3. SCOTCH EXPRESSIONS WASHI TAPE; $10.98

Scotch

This colorful tape has a texture similar to masking tape, so you can write on it with pen, pencil, or marker. Use it to label your folders and drawers, or get creative and decorate your cubicle or office’s walls and furniture.

Find it: Amazon

4. SCOTCH MAGIC TAPE DISPENSER, GLOBE; $10.39

Scotch

Travel the world without using any of your vacation time by keeping this globe-shaped tape dispenser on your desk.

Find it: Office Depot

5. MOLESKINE 18-MONTH PETIT PRINCE WEEKLY PLANNER; $20.95

Moleskine

If you can’t remember a date without writing it down—and your calendar app just doesn’t cut it—this weekly planner from Moleskine will be a lifesaver. The charming diary features plenty of room to annotate your appointments (a lined page faces each weekly calendar page) and evocative illustrations from Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s classic.

Find it: Moleskine

6. LIFEFACTORY 16 OZ ACTIVE FLIP CAP WATER BOTTLE; $29.99

Lifefactory

Staying hydrated helps keep you alert and focused at work or in class. Sip in style with this glass water bottle from Lifefactory: It’s dishwasher-safe, made from FDA-approved materials, and has a pivoting handle and handy flip cap design.

Find it: Lifefactory

7. MIIR 18L TOTE; $79

MiiR

When you purchase a bag from MiiR, you help support students around the world—MiiR gives 5 percent of its top-line revenue to nonprofit partners, including education resources and clean water initiatives. The water resistant18L tote is just as useful on your commute—it has a padded sleeve for your laptop—as it is at the farmers market or on a hike.

Find it: MiiR

8. PREPD LUNCH BOX SET; $55

Prepd

We’ve had our eye on the Prepd Pack lunch box since it was a glimmer of an idea. Now fully funded, the Kickstarter project will begin shipping in October. The Prepd Pack has a sleek bamboo-covered case and comes with removable modular containers that will make you excited to pack your lunch.

Find it: Prepd

9. HERSCHEL SIXTEEN HIP PACK; $29.99

Herschel Supply Co.

Give your back a break this fall with Herschel’s hip spin on a ‘90s favorite. The adjustable Sixteen hip pack is big enough to fit your wallet, cell phone, keys, and more, and can be worn around your waist (like a fanny pack) or over your shoulder.

Find it: Herschel

10. HERSCHEL SETTLEMENT CASE; $19.99 - $29.99

Herschel Supply Co.

Grownups need a place to put their pencils, too. Herschel’s Settlement Case, which comes in an array of colorful geometric patterns, would also work well as a makeup case or toiletry kit when you travel.

Find it: Herschel

11. FREE FORM BULLETIN BOARD; $75

Uncommon Goods

This magnetic wooden bulletin board has moveable parts—including a shelf, pins, pegs, and box—so you can arrange it (and rearrange it) to best suit your needs.

Find it: UncommonGoods

12. BUBBLE WRAP CALENDAR; $27

Uncommon Goods

Scientific studies have proven that popping Bubble Wrap really does help the popper feel more calm and alert. Stave off stress by starting each workday with a deep cleansing breath and the pop of one bubble on this calendar.

Find it: UncommonGoods

13. BANNED BOOKS TOTE BAG; $18

Uncommon Goods

Bibliophiles will love this canvas tote, printed with the names of once-banned books from Ulysses to Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.

Find it: UncommonGoods

14. TRESTIQUE MAKEUP; PRODUCTS START AT $24

treStique

This line of crayons and colored pencils is made for adults. treStique’s makeup system comes in stick form, making it as easy to toss in your bag as it is to apply. Buy it a la carte or choose a custom set or bundle.

Find it: treStique

15. GRAZE; $11.99 PER BOX

Graze

It’s time you break up with the vending machine. For under $12 per box, Graze will send you a pack of eight delicious, nutritionist-approved snacks.

Find it: Graze

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school
Tulane University Offers Free Semester to Students Affected by Hurricane Maria
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As Puerto Rico continues to assess the damage left by Hurricane Maria last month, one American institution is offering displaced residents some long-term hope. Tulane University in New Orleans is waiving next semester’s tuition fees for students enrolled at Puerto Rican colleges prior to the storm, Forbes reports.

From now until November 1, students whose studies were disrupted by Maria can apply for one of the limited spots still open for Tulane’s spring semester. And while guests won’t be required to pay Tulane's fees, they will still be asked to pay tuition to their home universities as Puerto Rico rebuilds. Students from other islands recovering from this year’s hurricane season, like St. Martin and the U.S. Virgin Islands, are also welcome to submit applications.

Tulane knows all too well the importance of community support in the wake of disaster. The campus was closed for all of the 2005 fall semester as New Orleans dealt with the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. During that time, schools around the world opened their doors to Tulane students who were displaced. The university wrote in a blog post, “It’s now our turn to pay it forward and assist students in need.”

Students looking to study as guests at Tulane this spring can fill out this form to apply.

[h/t Forbes]

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Big Questions
Why Are So Many Blackboards Green?
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Though the term blackboard has a color right there in its name, most of them aren’t actually black. While we still use the term more or less interchangeably with chalkboards, blackboards tend to be green. Why the difference? Why call a surface a blackboard if it's green?

Because 200 years ago, blackboards were black. According to author Lewis Buzbee’s Blackboard: A Personal History of the Classroom, large boards of connected slates that teachers could write on for the whole class to see didn’t come around until the early 1800s, and the name blackboard wasn’t used until 1815. They were made with slate, or in rural areas, they were often just wooden boards painted dark with egg whites mixed with the remains of charred potatoes. Later, they were also made of wood darkened with a commercially made porcelain-based ink. They were, true to their name, black.

And the relatively affordable, ubiquitous technology was a huge success, changing education forever. By the mid-19th century, even the most rural schools had a blackboard.

As an 1841 teaching manual, The Blackboard in the Primary School, put it: “The inventor or introducer of the black-board system deserves to be ranked among the best contributors to learning and science, if not among the greatest benefactors of mankind.”

In the 20th century, blackboards began to look a little different, though the idea was the same. In the 1930s, manufacturers began to make chalkboards using a green, porcelain enameled paint on a steel base. By the 1960s, the green chalkboard trend was in full swing. Teachers had discovered that a different colored paint was a lot more comfortable to stare at all day, because green porcelain paint cut down on glare. By and large, many blackboards were slowly replaced by their green brethren. (Apparently, greenboards wasn’t quite as catchy of a name, though, so the term blackboard stuck.)

But today, many school children might not be familiar with either blackboards or "greenboards." In the 1990s, schools began converting their classrooms to whiteboards, which produce less dust (and eliminate that terrible screeching noise). According to The Atlantic, at the turn of the millennium, whiteboards were outselling chalkboards by a 4-to-1 ratio.

You can still find the occasional blackboard in a classroom, though—even if it’s just decorative. And some schools are rediscovering blackboards, literally. In the summer of 2015, construction workers renovating an Oklahoma school for smart whiteboards found two historic slate blackboards that still bore drawings from almost 100 years ago.

Have you got a Big Question you'd like us to answer? If so, let us know by emailing us at bigquestions@mentalfloss.com.

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