The future is here, and with it comes new ways to educate children with more than just letters and numbers. So many jobs are being replaced with AI and robotics, transforming how we labor as we move into a future more infused with technology than ever before. To prepare for this, we need to evolve the methods in which we teach our kids how to prepare for the new world.
Thanks to so many award-winning companies, there are plenty of great ideas out there that are ripe and waiting for adoption into the curriculum of today’s schools. From introducing coding in ways that make things so much easier to learn than your typical textbook, to transforming those books into interactive content.
Here are just a few of these great companies that are pushing for improvement.
Do you remember the letter shaped fridge magnets you’d buy for kids to make words all over the fridge with? Well, technically they haven’t gone anywhere as you can still find them in stores today. However, they have been around for many years, and it is time we do more with them, don’t you think? Now you can, with Square Panda.
Described as a “multisensory phonics learning system”, Square Panda takes letters of similar design and fuses them with exciting games using apps (via tablet), and allows children to learn through various interactive challenges. It can help teach them the alphabet, pronunciation of the letters throughout their various uses, create rhymes and build upon their vocabulary. It’s basically the new hooked on phonics.
It helps to build upon their reading skills while motivating them when they get something wrong, so not to make them feel discouraged or penalized. You insert a tablet and use the provided letters in the various slots to interact with on-screen content. It knows what letters have been inserted and offers both upper and lowercase letters to choose from.
There is a portal for parents that allows them to monitor the progress of their kids using a free cloud database, which stores everything under a custom profile (which can even include a picture of each child using it). Even better, they have a special edition for classrooms that allows teachers to easily track the progress of each student.
Circuit Cubes by Tenka Labs
This was one of our favorites from CES this year. A product that even adults could easily find themselves playing with–especially at the company that makes it all. Tenka Labs has created what they call “Circuit Cubes” that takes your every day lego building skills, and unlocks the ability to go so much further than ever before.
These Circuit Cubes consist of multiple “cubes” that provide different functions that allow your lego creations to go mobile, feature flashing LED lights, rotate, walk, shoot projectiles and more. You can even control it all via an app on your phone through Bluetooth. In our interview with Tenka Labs at CES 2018, they had a table packed with various creations, including a Star Wars vehicle kit with a little Storm Trooper inside. They could control it with their phone, make the gun turret spin, and even fire projectiles if they so choose. You can tell they had a lot of fun putting their “display” together.
The cubes interconnect with each other either directly via magnets or using small cables, beginning with a battery source, and teaching children polarization of electricity (with short circuit protection), load balance, math and other mechanics of simple engineering. They can be integrated in with legos due to their 4×4 design that allows them to plug right into the mix of things, just like the legos do to each other, and from there you are only limited by your own creativity.
Challenge your creativity with walking spiders, drivable vehicles, spinning weapons (*cough*, I mean, spinning
“utilities” of various types), flying ships with fireable missiles (sorry, for now you will have to manually “fly” them by swinging them around in the air with your arm still), and so much more. You could literally create your own version of Battle Bots at home using legos. They even support Arduino integration.
See? You don’t have to be a kid to enjoy this. As long as you have a love for legos, you more than likely could easily find your free time stolen away from you if you had access to these. So what are you waiting for? Oh yes, we were on the topic of education for kids. I totally meant for schools–you should bug your local schools to invest in Tenka Lab’s valuable tools of education, so that our kids can discover a high level of education, while having the time of their lives.
An alternative option is from Microduino, who makes similar building blocks that allows you to “animate your projects with function and purpose”, while teaching kids how to code. Like Circuit Cubes, they can connect to each other via magnets and are compatible with legos (as well as other creative building materials).
They use open-source coding so that you can integrate them with Arduino IDE, Scratch or Mixly. Available in various kits, you can build small sections of a city with them, including lighthouses, buildings, vehicles and more. You can create random items like a music box that plays MP3s of your choice when the door is opened.
Another wonderful idea that could benefit schools to include within the classroom. Teaching kids to code at an earlier age accelerates their skills moving forward, allowing them to dive deeper into any personal fields of interest as they move toward high school and college.
All of these products can be useful both in and out of the classroom, to help improve education with, and prepare kids for the future to come. Education has never been so fun.