Remember a time when parents used to tell kids that their brain was rotting because of too much time spent playing video games? Nintendo doesn’t.
The massive video game giant has partnered with Canadian STEM non-profit Actua to launch educational initiatives around Canada, all based on Nintendo’s cardboard toy Labo. In total, Nintendo has provided 21 Actua network members with Nintendo Switches and Labo kits, and those members have worked on ways to best incorporate the fun and educational tools into their fall and winter programming.
“There is a real gap in opportunities for young Canadians to learn about the technology that is shaping our world. Not just how to use technology, but how to design it and build it too. Nintendo Labo offers youth an exceptional opportunity to experience the digital-physical interface, and to better understand how technology works, and how it can be designed to power our physical world,” said Jennifer Flanagan, Actua CEO. “We are pleased to partner with Nintendo to provide more opportunities for all youth, regardless of background, or socioeconomic status, to build skills and confidence in science and technology.”
Labo is a set of cardboard cutouts that both kids and adults can play with to create DIY tools, including fishing rods, RC cars, pianos, and more. They can then use those homemade creations to interact with a physical and digital world, all through the Nintendo switch. The Actua/Nintendo partnership hopes to reach 2,000 kids aged 8-12 and teach them about new ways to bridge the gap between hands-on education and the digital world.
A mode called Toy-COn Garage that comes with the Switch and Labo introduces kids to the basic principles of coding, letting them tweak some controls to better enable the integration of their cardboard creations into a game. With this tool, kids can create fully-functioning analog clocks, instruments and more.
“The ingenuity of Nintendo Switch brings Nintendo Labo to life to provide a fun way for kids to explore basic STEM topics together and be entertained while building a fundamental understanding of the technology behind them,” said Nintendo of America president and COO Reggie Fils-Aime. “We hope our programs in the United States and Canada encourage kids to explore, tinker, problem-solve and, in the process, get excited about design and technology—all while having fun.”
This initiative falls directly in line with Actua’s overall goals, as they are an organization that reaches over 250,000 young Canadians and strives to teach all aspects of STEM. Most recently, the non-profit received an investment from Google Canada to engage youth with projects involved in coding and other tech skills.