Since it was released, there's been much discussion about the potential educational purposes of Nintendo Labo. In June, Nintendo of America President and COO Reggie Fils-Aimé explained how Nintendo intended to run entry-level coding programs over the summer for kids and would move into the educational market in fall.
The next step for Nintendo Labo has now arrived, with Nintendo teaming up with the Institute of Play to bring the cardboard kits to elementary classrooms across the US. The rollout of kits across schools nationwide is to promote the basic principles of science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics (abbreviated as STEAM), and inspire children whilst making learning fun.
Nintendo will provide both Labo Variety Kits and Switch systems in all participating classrooms, in hope of reinforcing skills such as communication, creativity and critical thinking. The aim is to reach 2,000 students between the ages of 8 to 11 across the 2018-2019 school year.
The Institute of Play is responsible for building the curriculum for the program and already works alongside teachers and schools as a trusted partner when it comes to developer play-based learning experiences for youth. The nonprofit research and design organisation is comprised of a team of educators, researchers, game designers and school leaders. Here's what the Co-Executive Director of the Institute of Play had to say:
We are always on the lookout for new tools and technologies that combine the best of learning with the spirit of play, and in NintendoLabo we found an inspiring and innovative approach in both areas. Teachers in the pilot program are already seeing the natural fit for Nintendo Labo in the classroom, and now we can bring that dynamic to schools across the country.
At this point in time, The Institute of Play is conducting pilot programs with schools in the greater New York area. These programs will be used to develop a Nintendo Labo teacher guide and allow other educators to then implement Labo into the classroom. This program will include sample lessons and learning modules focused on the basic elements of STEAM. The guide will also be released for free later this fall.
Upon completion of the pilot, the program will expand to 100 schools across the US and run until March 2019. In Canada, Nintendo will be partnering with Actua - the leading education-outreach organisation for STEM topics within the country - to inspire youth to innovate through digital literacy programs.
Here's what Reggie had to say about the partnership and rollout in schools:
The ingenuity of Nintendo Switch brings Nintendo Labo to life to provide a fun way for kids to explore basic STEAM topics together and be entertained while building a fundamental understanding of the technology behind them. 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.
Do you think Nintendo Labo has a bright future as an educational tool? Tell us in the comments.