Personally, I think most of these gadgets are worthless. Yes, a thermometer is useful (but I prefer the instant-read kind like the Thermapen for quick checks in multiple locations). Otherwise, you really only need a good pair of extra-long tongs (that 3-in-1 thing in TFA looks clunky as heck) and a spatula.
If you really want to grill like a geek, check out Kenji Alt's Food Lab posts over on Serious Eats. He's got a nice guide up right now on how to grill a steak the right way (complete with explanations based on food science and his own experiments), and he's been doing a series on the best inexpensive steaks (at least, inexpensive compared to porterhouse and tenderloin).
The problem with many (maybe most?) attempts to put technology in schools and even home learning environments is that people don't think through the implementation. Technology is not magic. You cannot expect to get good results simply by dropping a chunk of technology into a classroom without spending a lot of time and energy rethinking how teaching and learning is going to work in that classroom. For example:
What, exactly, is the technology going to be used for? No hand-waving general answers allowed here (e.g., "enrich content with interactive multimedia presentations" is a useless answer).
In what specific tasks will the technology allow you to do something that would have been cumbersome or impossible without it (e.g., using graphing or numerical methods to approximate solutions to equations that are not amenable to the usual algebraic techniques)?
What more interesting or more engaging problems can you now attempt to solve (that address your learning goals) that you would not have been able to attempt without the technology?
Will you want to change or expand your set of learning goals now that you have this piece of technology? If so, how?
How much instructional time will be needed to get the teacher and students working comfortably with the technology? Is the potential benefit worth that amount of time?
How do you implement the technology in ways that do not detract from the learning you are trying to do (i.e., what are the unintended consequences)? How might you plan ahead for negative unintended uses?
Almost every case I've ever seen or read about where technology was just dropped into an educational setting without painstaking planning and thought about curriculum and implementation, not to mention extensive training of teachers and staff, resulted in mixed results at best, and failure and rejection at worst. To answer the original questions directly, technology aids can help or hinder education- it's all in the amount of time, thought, sweat and tears that get put into the implementation. I won't comment more on the home schooling part of the question, as I really have no experience there (aside from supplementing my own kids' educations).
COMPASS [for the CDC-6000 series] is the sort of assembler one expects from a corporation whose president codes in octal. -- J.N. Gray