The burgeoning prominence of STEM toys has caught the attention of Wisconsin-based toy manufacturer and marketer Patch, which has acquired L.A.-based Roominate, home to the tech-centric construction toy of the same name.
The deal signals Patch’s expansion from puzzles, toys and games into a new category of girl-focused STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Match) toys.
Roominate – a recent Toy Industry Association Toy of the Year Award finalist - features a dozen different building sets that allow kids to build items like a school bus or amusement park, which come to life through the use of motors and lights. The coinciding interactive app also allows kids to remotely control motors and lights, as well as get design ideas from fellow Roominaters.
This past July, Roominate co-founders Bettina Chen and Alice Brooks crowdsourced more than US$50,000 in an effort to get its second product to market: A newer version of Roominate featuring rPower. (Roughly three years ago, the duo raised US$85,964 on Kickstarter to fund the original Roominate building toy.)
Following the deal, the terms of which were not disclosed, Chen and Brooks will continue their involvement with Roominate. As for Patch, which is owned by Topspin Partners, the purchase helps diversify the company’s line of products, which currently include Mirari infant toys, the educational Lauri brand and Wooly Willy.
This past year saw STEM-themed toys, TV shows, web series and computer programming campaigns take significant shape as research continues to uphold the fact that 90% of girls make their career decisions in seventh or eighth grade. And the number-one reason so many shy away from STEM careers is lack of exposure, according to Sheila Boyington, an advocate for girls STEM education and president/co-founder of Chattanooga, Tennessee-based Thinking Media.