Gaming giant Nintendo and New York’s Institute of Play are partnering to bring Nintendo Labo: Variety Kits and Nintendo Switch systems into elementary schools nationwide in an effort to strengthen kids’ STEAM (science, technology, art and math) skills.
Nintendo Labo, which launched earlier this year, uses modular sheets of cardboard compatible with the Switch console and its Joy-Con controllers to create DIY experiences for kids with motion cameras. With the tech, they can build everything from a playable piano that detects which keys are pressed and translates them into musical notes heard through the console, to a motorbike with cardboard handlebars that can be driven on screen.
Currently running in schools in the greater New York area, the pilot program is projected to reach 2,000 students ages eight to 11 during the 2018/2019 school year. Both companies have brought in a team of educators, researchers, game designers and school leaders to build a curriculum and Teacher Guide, which will be available for free later this year for anyone who wants to incorporate Nintendo Labo into classrooms or homes.
Once the pilot is complete at the end of March 2019, it will be expanded to run in at least 100 additional schools across the US. Schools that wish to participate can apply online.
North of the border, Nintendo has similarly partnered with education outreach program Actua to get Canadian youth involved in STEM through Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Labo.