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DESIGNEDUCATIONALTECHNOLOGYTOY Blog

AWAKENING OF KIDS TO TECHNOLOGY WITH STEM TOYS

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Awakening of kids to technology with STEM toys, this is the case of Zowi a little intelligent robot which help children to discover how technology works.

Zowi is a project designed by bq who has proposed an evolutionary system developing this intelligent robot for the smaller. The main of bq is bringing Zowi to schools to allow children of ages 8 and up to learn code and programming while playing and put them into the world of technology safely while entertaining. Teaching at the same time that technology can be transparent, proximate and fun.

So, even being a toy it has an educational ecosystem with an extensive pedagogical pathway.

Zowi is an open source smart robot, which means that the physical ecosystem, the code and the app have all been made freely available so that anyone can understand it and modify it.

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This friendly robot  already knows how to do a few things when you take it from the box for the first time like walk, dance, dodge obstacles, emit sounds and make mouth gestures. So just pressing the three buttons of the back children can explore the basic functions.

Depending on the age of the child and their pace of learning the tasks can increase their complexity since Zowi adapts and  increase the difficulty progressively.

After play and explore with the firmware of the toy, children can start using the timeline to create easy sequences of movements, gestures and sounds. With this simple task kids can learn about sequential thinking.

Furthermore, in the app children can find different games and projects with theoretical lessons.

Afterwards, children can create and teach Zowi new things and they can do it using Bitbloq. Bitbloq is a simple an intuitive block-programming tool similar to Arduino but specially thought for kids, so it works with simple colour blocks which children can easily reprogram Zowi’s brain.

Children can also create tunes with the buzzer and program it so that it reacts to the sounds they want. In this way kids learn about conditionals and they can program with Bitbloq different functions to specific situations and also solve problems of the daily life.

One of the best things for awakening of kids to technology with STEM toys is that kids can dismantle Zowi to see what it’s like on the inside and add new sensors to be programmed on Bitbloq, allowing children being creators of their own robot.

So, once that children have opened Zowi they will find the controller board, the sensors and the actuator. Using a basic electronic kit they can compare and link Zowi’s components with the components of the kit, learning in this way the basics of electronic and technology.

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Later, children can connect again the elements with the controller board and reprogram the new skills of Zowi with Bitbloq.

But you can not just customize your robot from the inside, if you want you can also change the head of Zowi using a 3D printer and at the end, children can share their inventions and projects on a dedicated platform on Zowi’s website.

We found this a very interesting way for awakening of kids to technology with STEM toys. If you are thinking on an implementation of this educational toy you can find additional workshops for families to learn and engage with basic robotic learning.

EDUCATIONALMARKETINGSOCIALTOY Blog

Recycling toys in a social perspective

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A few weeks ago I visited London and, as my partner was busy with a volunteering experience, I decided to explore toy-related places in London. And I found this: a toy store that actually does recycling toys in a social perspective. The TOY Project is an eye-catching toy shop, with an incredibly rich showcase, organizing and funding social initiatives for the neighborhood community and not only.

All started in 2013 thanks to Jane Garfield and Angela Donovan. I am going to quote the history from the website as it is so well told.

Jane could see how some children had more toys than others and how schools needed resources but had little funds for sourcing them”. She “began collecting unwanted toys that she could then distribute to those most in need. Angela wanted to provide toys and resources for bereaved children through supporting play therapists with toys to use in their sessions with children who had lost a parent, a sibling or a close friend.

The TOY Project started life as a part-time operation run out of Jane’s living room, but it soon outgrew the space and was moved to a small storage room in a community centre in Finsbury Park. In 2016 we opened a pop-up shop on Junction Road, Archway to raise money to keep the charity going. At the shop, local children and families could now donate their ‘old’ toys and buy ‘new’ ones.

Our shop was a big success, and we decided to make the ‘pop-up’ shop into a permanent feature of Archway. We thrived in our new home but quickly outgrew the space and a year later, we moved a few doors down into our new home at 81 Junction Road in Archway.

Jane Garfield, co-founder of The TOY Project

The larger shop provides more retail space and dedicated areas for sorting and storing toys, such as all the Lego required for our weekly Lego workshops we run at a community centre around the corner. We also rent a small warehouse nearby to store new toys we give as gifts for Christmas and birthday presents.”

Meeting this place and this people, in particular Jane, who welcomed me warmly, although without an appointment and in the middle of a constant work of sorting, displaying and managing the daily activity required to run the shop, was a breath for the hearth and changed my vision on recycling toys in a social perspective. It made me realize how toy waste has great social potential, beside its environmental impact, also very important.

Jane was so nice to tell me all the many pros and cons of managing successfully a place like that, with rent, electricity and employee costs. First of all passion has to be there, she told me “you could never run a place like this unless you are going to be here all the time”. I was in the shop for about half an hour in a morning of a week day and so much was happening: people coming with children to play and then to buy, other people coming and delivering a cardboard box full of (almost) new toys, talking to curious people like me, do the payments, etc, etc…. there were many things happening and all the time there was this sense of community flying around the shop.

Part of the toy turnover happens also thanks to the Amazon Wishlist and from receiving returns from toy companies, giving them the possibility to found the shop with brand new toys that can be re-sold for presents and birthdays, raising more money. Jane is an institution rather than a sole shop owner, it made me think at the role that the toy industry could play in promoting this reuse-reduce-recycle philosophy or circular economy. We have already talked about similar initiatives, for example the Mattel’s Playback program which has the big difference of actually recycling the plastic for the manufacturing of new toys, rather than managing the reuse. Jane told us that they have also been part of that program but somehow it didn’t work in the end. I guess recycling (Mattel’s) and reusing (the TOY Project) are quite different approaches and probably have diverging interests.

ARTEDUCATIONALTOY Blog

DESIGN CARDS THAT TRAIN VISION IN EARLY CHILDHOOD

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When light passes through our cornea (transparent eye surface) to your pupil (the opening to the inside of your eye) it reaches our lens, which focuses it on your retina (the back of your eye), where it’s converted into a nerve signal and carried by the optic nerve to your brain. Now this connection system creates memories in our nervous system. These memories are then co-related to the other body parts in order to generate motion and perform tasks. That’s why this company has created “Baby Visual Stimulation Cards“, some design cards that train vision in early childhood and guide your baby through their first few years of visual discovery..

DESIGNEDUCATIONALSOCIALTECHNOLOGYTOY Blog

RECLAIM AND RECYCLE – A SUSTAINABLE TOY DESIGN SERVICE

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Toy Designers and Toy Brands empower the next generation to explore the wonder of childhood and reach their full potential. But, future generations also need to inherit an environment that is full of promise. Most of the time, children outgrow toys or discard them due to wear and tear, and then these toys end up in landfills. By working together to reclaim and recycle materials, we can make sure the toys of the present do not become the waste challenges of tomorrow.

DESIGNEDUCATIONALTECHNOLOGYTOY Blog

HUMANISING TECHNOLOGY IN TOY DESIGN

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Most of the innovation that we see in the world today is Technology-led. When we think of Technology – the most prominent word that surfaces is “Efficiency”. But the issue in recent times is the fear that this efficiency-driven Technology might scale to the point of outgrowing Human abilities and qualities. Over time, technology might start changing our DNA, our behaviour and “domesticate humans” completely. Therefore, the need of the hour is to take a step towards humanising technology. There seems to be an urgent need to blend the physical and digital mediums.

Humanising Technology refers to creating New Models of Design that are more balanced. It means to create a bi-directional relationship between Technology and the User and making machines express in a more human language.

“Technology is just a means to enable the needs of human beings”.

DESIGNEDUCATIONALOPEN TOYSOCIALTOY Blog

A right toy for your kid’s changing age

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Growth is a part of life where one develops different set of skills at every stage. As we have seen previously, how unstructured play and six bricks created activities and helped kids grow and learn with many playful toys. But, the question is how to choose a toy for proper development? Today, we are going to read about how to choose a right toy for your kid’s changing age.

For the first age category, 0-12 months. Till the age of 3 months, baby’s vision is still blurry and all they see is patches of colors. Later, they start interacting with things and surroundings that helps them engage their other senses. That is why toys for the little ones should be Bright in color, make Squeaky and crinkling noises, have different Textures on them with big bold shapes and finally they should provide different softness.

ARTDESIGNEDUCATIONALTECHNOLOGYTOY Blog

Smart activity kits for learning STEAM education

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SMARTIVITY are the makers of smart activity kits for learning STEAM education to help children of age 3+ to understand fundamentals of STEAM. They make World’s finest Smart Construction Toys to make the fundamentals FUN. They believe in the potential of child to be the maker of a better future and inspire child to unleash their true potential to be an innovator, a creator, a tinkerer, a problem-solver… as a maker of our future!

DESIGNEDUCATIONALMARKETINGSOCIALTOY Blog

A board game to teach Compassion and Care

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We have seen previously how important it is to openly talk and teach about Sexual health to young generation with the help if IT KIT (enter link). Today, we are going to talk about THE PERIOD GAME, A board game to teach Compassion and Care and destigmatize the Period Education. This game teaches about menstruation in a fun, engaging way. Games are for 2-5 players and take approx. 20-30 minutes to play.

DESIGNEDUCATIONALMARKETINGSOCIALTECHNOLOGYTOY Blog

How pandemic has affected toy trends and toy market?

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Since past two years our lives have changed massively in terms of lifestyle, health, earning, vacations, basic needs, livelihood, travel, etc. all the sectors and markets have been affected. And so has the Toy Industry. Today, we are going to read a little about how pandemic has affected toy trends and toy market. To understand this we will also have a brief look at the consumer behavior.