Many education experts believe that coding will soon be an essential skill for young people entering the workforce. At the same time, there is growing concern about the increasingly sedentary lifestyles of children. Unruly Studios takes on both issues with a product that makes learning and movement accessible and engaging. The company’s debut product, Splats, consists of two sturdy, interactive floor tiles (or “splats”) that can be pushed, tapped, and even stepped on, as well as a codingapp that uses a simple visual coding language to let children aged 6 and up create games to play on the tiles. The app, which connects to the splats via Bluetooth, features colorful, drag-and-drop boxes of code that children assemble to create their own games. Users can tell the program what to do when the splat is pressed—they can control the device’s lights and sounds, and tally players’ scores, among other functions. The app comes with a few prewritten games, such as a version of Whack-A-Mole that challenges players to press the splat as quickly as possible whenever it lights up in a specific color. As they become more comfortable with coding, children can modify these games—for example, changing the target color or tweaking the timing. Splats will be available in October 2018. A pack of two splats and access to the app will cost $149.99; packs with four tiles ($269) or ten tiles plus a curriculum ($829) will also be available.
Imagineering in a Box is designed to pull back the curtain to show students in middle school and high school how artists, designers, and engineers work together to create theme parks. The program, from Khan Academy, takes a behind-the-scenes look with Disney Imagineers and makes it an active learning experience by weaving together videos and exercises into lessons that culminate in student-driven projects.
Parents and children will find a wide variety of engaging camp activities to take part in when they dive into Camp Wonderopolis. Some of the activities revolve around STEM-field careers, others are designed to boost literacy and comprehension, and still others to help foster and improve critical thinking and creativity in young minds.
The Virtual Koshland Science Museum, now part of the National Academy of Sciences’LabX program for students, offers a beautiful interactive feature on the anatomy of the human brain. LabX also presents a collection of online experiences.