Nintendo has teamed up with the Institute of Play to launch a new scheme to introduce STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and mathematics) concepts to elementary-aged children across the US.
The new program is designed to "inspire kids with fun learning activities" during the upcoming 2018-2019 academic year. It also hopes to foster skills like critical thinking, creativity, communication, and problem-solving in 100 US classrooms, its activities targeted chiefly at 8-11-year-old children.
"Nintendo has teamed up with the Institute of Play (IOP), a nonprofit committed to creating transformational play-based learning experiences, to help teachers integrate Nintendo Labo into their curriculum," states Nintendo. "Students will get to work in small groups to complete a series of projects that introduce basic principles of design and technology."
The selection process has commenced and applications are now open for teachers interested in the scheme. The IOP hopes to reach a diverse group of schools across the US "in urban, suburban and rural settings". Successful applications will also receive a free teacher guide focused on Nintendo Labo for use in the classroom that has been developed by professional educators and curriculum designers. It offers "implementation ideas, curricular connections and activities that can be adapted to many different educational settings".
The Institute of Play – described as a nonprofit "committed to creating transformational play-based learning experiences" – is a specialised design studio with an interdisciplinary team of educators, researchers, game designers and school leaders.
Nintendo’s Labo sets provide pre-configured cardboard kits to enable players to craft a range of Labo creations, including vehicles and musical instruments. This isn’t the first time Nintendo’s experimented with educational programs; in 2016, it teamed up with the San Francisco Public Library – known for its digital teaching space, The Mix – to use Wii U title Super Mario Maker to educate students about the basics of game development.