There is a toy revolution occurring. A renewed, concerted effort is underway to make toys for children and young adults, to condition their minds in preparation for the world of STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics).
Schools are implementing STEM programs which involve classroom renovations that are stimulating, but fun. For some time now too many students have been losing interest in science and maths, even before they reach high school, making it very difficult for them to rediscover a love for these later on. This not only limits their employment prospects, but leaves them without the excitement that STEM disciplines promise throughout their lives.
Primary schools are making a concerted effort to mitigate this slide. Robotics and innovative problem solving technologies, designed to cognitively challenge students, are creeping into classrooms. To ensure that this occurs around the world (even in the most rural areas), the technologies and learning equipment employed need to be as affordable as possible.
Nintendo has been showcasing what the future of STEM-inspired fun can encompass. Their new innovation utilizes one of the most cost-effective, most abundant materials known to man: cardboard.
Nintendo’s latest console, the Nintendo Switch, is a favorite amongst youths who are pressuring their parents to buy it. And it just got cooler. Nintendo has launched ‘Labo’; - it includes foldable cardboard sheets that interconnect with the gaming console.
The user folds the cardboard (DIY fashion) and connects it to the console controllers so that it can be used to play the games on the 6.2 inch screen.
Nintendo’s console has motion-sensing technology built in, making the cardboard interfacing even more fun. For instance users can fold together (in an almost origami fashion) a cardboard steering column and play a racing game on it.
The company has also introduced a robot suit, RC car, piano and fishing rod – all made out of cardboard and rubber bands.
Nintendo is hoping its new cardboard range will become tools that will spur kids to pursue STEM subjects later on in their academic lives.
Cardboard simulation technologies seem to be a marker for where the education and training industry is heading. Just a few years ago, companies were releasing cardboard virtual reality goggles with cheap lenses. It was a glimpse into the future of virtual reality. Since then, virtual and augmented reality headsets have taken off in a big way.
The only problem with Nintendo’s Labo? The price. Their Variety Kit costs US$69.99, and the Robot Kit costs US$79.99. Some parents will find this prohibitive. Nonetheless, if foldable cardboard toys that interface with technology become a focus for stimulating children in the fields of STEM, lower prices for similar technologies must follow.
Horaczek, Stan. “Nintendo's Labo Cardboard STEM Toys Are a Recycling Bin Full of Fun.” Popular Science, 2 Feb. 2018, www.popsci.com/nintendo-labo-stem-toy-impressions#page-3.