FIRST Lego League Announces Seventh Youth Challenge

First.logoFor Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) has announced the topic of its seventh FIRST Lego League (FLL) task, asking students to explore the future of learning as part of the FLL World Class Challenge.

The challenge asks teams of 9- to 14-year-olds (9 to 16 outside North America) worldwide to research and present original ideas to enrich the current landscape of learning. Teams will also build, test, and program an autonomous robot using Lego Mindstorms technology to solve a series of wisdom-gathering missions based on the theme.

More than 260,000 children in nearly 80 countries are expected to participate in the FLL event, with an additional 27,000 6- to 9-year-olds expected in the Junior FLL competition. Teams of up to 10 children, with two adult coaches, participate in the eight-week challenge, which culminates in high-energy, sports-like tournaments. Past challenges have included topics such as natural disasters, biomedical engineering, nanotechnology, quality of life for handicapped and senior populations, and transportation. [Read more...]

LeapFrog Introduces LeapTV Video Gaming System

LeapTVLeapFrog Enterprises Inc. has unveiled its first educational, active video gaming system, LeapTV, which is designed specifically for children ages 3 to 8 years old. This new console system combines activity and movement with LeapFrog’s educational curriculum.

LeapTV features a transforming gaming controller that has been specifically designed for children’s small hands and limited dexterity. In its regular configuration, it enables classic gameplay, but with the press of a button it easily transforms into a motion controller and LED pointer controller. The LeapTV system also features a motion-sensing camera, which puts a child directly in the game, as well as a design that integrates into most homes.

The LeapTV video game system puts learning into motion with three ways to play: body motion, pointer play, and classic control. For body motion, the motion-sensing camera captures a child’s moves and puts them into the game as they explore activities like dance and martial arts. For pointer play, the controller transforms into a pointer with a simple twist and lets kids snap jungle vines, slice through coconuts, swing from building to building and more. [Read more...]

Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails Traveling Exhibit Debuts at Minnesota Children’s Museum

image003The world’s most popular blue engine is rolling out on a 10-year North American traveling exhibit tour, which emphasizes the importance of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) learning. Thomas & Friends: Explore the Rails is an interactive exhibit created by Minnesota Children’s Museum that is inspired by the children’s series on PBS Kids. The tour will be in St. Paul beginning on June 14 for three months.

The STEM-focused exhibit was designed to engage children and families in foundation skills that encourage thinking mathematically, making comparisons, experimenting to solve problems, thinking creatively, and reflecting on actions and results. Visitors to the 1,500 square foot exhibit will enter iconic Thomas & Friends locations. Children will help Thomas and his friends solve challenges to test their abilities.

The museum was created in partnership with HIT Entertainment and 5-year national tour sponsorship with 3M.

For Saban Brands and Center for Childhood Creativity, It’s Inventing Time!

Julius JrSaban Brands is partnering with the Center for Childhood Creativity for its animated preschool series, Julius Jr. The Center for Childhood Creativity has been working closely with Saban Brands to produce a series of “Inventing Time” activities designed for parents and caregivers to use at home, and for teachers to use in a preschool setting.

The Julius Jr. discussion guides encourage kids to take everyday objects they find around the house and turn them into extraordinary things, such as bridges, musical instruments, shadow puppets, and more. The activities come with a list of open-ended questions for adults to ask children while they are working on the various projects, enabling original thought and problem solving.

These materials are available at the Center for Childhood Creativity’s website, as well as for pick-up at San Francisco’s Bay Area Discovery Museum.

High School Students Launch Toy Company to Raise Funds for Not-For-Profit

FlipNCheckStudents from Stuyvesant High School in New York City have launched their first product, Flip ‘N’ Check, a dry-erase activity book for kids ages 5 and up. The toy is sold in more than 20 stores along the East coast, with all proceeds to be donated to the Teen Entrepreneur Boot Camp (TEBC), a not-for-profit group dedicated to teaching entrepreneurship to teens. This team will be collaborating with the Bronx Zoo for the next version of Flip ‘N’ Check called Zoo Animals.

The idea for the Flip ’N’ Check method was donated to the project by Dr. Howard Wexler, inventor of the game Connect 4, in an effort to fund the program. Flip ‘N’ Check comes in an easy-to-travel format and contains educational puzzles, mazes, connect-the-dots, word searches, crosswords, and more. A demonstration video is available on YouTube.

The students will be documenting their learning experiences on the TEBC blog, which will also feature tips from professionals they have met along the way, and the experiences they have had launching this toy company.

Super Duper Going the Retail Route with Educational Products

SuperDuperSuper Duper Publications is partnering with U.S. retail and online resellers to sell its children’s educational products. The company has more than 750 common core and state standards-aligned card decks, games, workbooks, software programs, mobile apps, and more for children ages 3 to 12.

Previously, the company mostly sold directly to consumers and educators, and only offered certain items to retailers. “We are very excited about working with retailers to bring our unique products to parents and educators throughout the country,” said Super Duper president Sharon Webber.

Super Duper also has over 40 international resellers that distribute its products worldwide. To date, the most popular Super Duper creations include the HearBuilder programs, which have helped students dramatically improve their early learning and pre-reading skills, such as basic concepts, following directions, phonological/sound awareness, auditory/listening memory, and sequencing.

Little Pim Partners with VTech for Foreign Language Content

Little Pim has partnered with VTech on the Little Pim foreign language video series for preschoolers. The series will be available for the InnoTab Learning Tablet range starting December 1 in VTech’s Learning Lodge app store, which is home to educator-approved downloadable content and curriculum.

LittlePim1The Little Pim videos help kids learn 360 words and phrases in a second language. The videos will be offered in English, Spanish, French, Mandarin Chinese, Italian, and German.

Little Pim’s Entertainment Immersion Method provides total immersion in the language. The method engages a child’s love of play watching real kids and animation. The program is the brainchild of Julia Pimsleur Levine, the daughter of Dr. Paul Pimsleur, creator of the Pimsleur Method, the popular language-learning program for adults. For more information on Little Pim, visit LittlePim.com.

Tiggly Introduces New Tiggly Shapes and Apps

tigglyshapesTiggly Shapes, the first physical product from Tiggly, is a set of four geometric shapes (a square, a circle, a triangle, and a star) that are designed to interact with learning apps on tablets. Tiggly Shakes come with three free apps and a felt carrying pouch for easy transportation. The three included apps are Tiggly Safari, where kids use Tiggly Shapes to construct animals from the jungle, farm, and sea; Tiggly Stamp, where kids use Tiggly Shapes to build seasonally themed scenes and use voice record and camera options to tell stories and save their work; and Tiggly Draw, where kids use the tablet as a canvas and Tiggly Shapes as their tools. 

Tiggly is a learning company that is pioneering a new way to educate kids in the digital age. By combining educational benefits of physical play with the learning potential of digital tools, Tiggly Shapes believes they can create an ideal environment for early childhood learning.

Tiggly Shapes and apps are designed for kids ages 18 months to 4 years.

VTech Forms New Panel of Education Experts

VTech-LogoVTech, a world leader in age-appropriate and developmental stage-based electronic learning products for children, has formed a new Panel of Experts to help support its continued commitment to developing innovative, educational toys. Together the panel has a lifetime of experience in areas such as reading, language arts, science, math, STEM education, childhood development, and childhood education allowing them to provide invaluable feedback on the development of all new product introductions.

In developing learning content for VTech’s app store, the Learning Lodge, VTech will apply the expertise of the panel as well as share their expertise on VTech’s Parent Resource Center to provide parents with trusted knowledge on topics and subjects including technology, motor skills, cognitive development, reading, math, and science.

VTech’s esteemed Panel of Experts include Dr. Helen Boehm, Dr. Lise Eliot, Dr. Francis Fennell, Dr. Carla C. Johnson, Dr. Eric Klopfer, and Dr. Deborah Sharp  Libby. To hear more from VTech’s Panel of Experts, including parenting tips and advice on how children learn through play, visit VTech’s Parent Resource Center.

Toys “R” Us 2013 Holiday Strategy Highlights Education, Tablets, and More

toysrusToys “R” Us Inc. will enhance product categories that have experienced sales growth over the past few years, such as education, tablets, and construction, as part of their 2013 holiday strategy.

This season, a dedicated Imaginarium shop will set in-store, and each store will have a whole aisle dedicated to new educational products, such as microscopes and telescopes from Edu Science and language-learning programs from Little Pim. Meanwhile, capitalizing on the growing construction category, the company will install a “Shop within a Store” in approximately 300 locations, showcasing construction brands such as Lego and Mega Bloks. The company will also feature approximately 70 Lego exclusives this holiday season, including Legends of Chima The Croc Swap Hideout and Star Wars Jedi Defender Class Cruiser.

After experiencing increases in sales of tablets and tablet accessories, Toys “R” Us will add easy-to-navigate 32-foot shops that will showcase 25 tablets that can be tested and engaged with by kids and parents. These shops are expected to set in the majority of Toys “R” Us locations by October. The company also has exclusive tablet products, such as the Kurio 10s by Techno Source and its recently announced tabeo e2, and will be launching a dedicated online tablet guide.

Finally, online shoppers can now place a “Buy Online, Pickup In Store,” order on toysrus.com and it will be ready for pickup in under an hour, and “Ship to Store” orders will now be available for pickup in five to 10 days. Later this fall, stores will be equipped with a secondary in-store pickup location, and “Ready for Pickup” emails that are sent to customers once their order is available will include a map of where the pickup location is positioned within the store.