California-based Wonder Workshop has teamed up with Cartoon Network in a partnership that integrates characters from the kidsnet’s hit toon Craig of the Creek into the edtech and robotics company’s fifth annual Wonder League Robotics Competition. This marks the first time Wonder Workshop has licensed characters for its annual event.
Open to teams of students ages six to 14 (each with an adult coach), the school-targeted global competition helps students develop coding, robotics and scientific thinking skills through real-world design challenges that involve programming Wonder Workshop’s app-connected robots Dot, Dash and Cue.
For the latest competition, which opened September 16, a creative team from Cartoon Network and Wonder Workshop’s education specialists developed five story-based missions of varying difficulty featuring Dash and Craig of the Creek characters, including its titular hero and his pals Kelsey and JP.
In a statement from Wonder Workshop, CEO and co-founder Vikas Gupta says the company met CN at computer science conference and discovered they both shared the goal of getting more kids involved in STEM education. And because both approach content with an emphasis on narrative and characters, a partnership was born.
Cartoon Network’s previous STEM ventures include a US$30-million funding injection in 2016 that was made in conjunction with President Obama’s Computer Science for All initiative. It also runs the Scratch coding initiative featuring its hit IP Powerpuff Girls and We Bare Bears.
As for Wonder League, competition has no entry fee, but teams in the six-to-eight and nine-to-11 age brackets need access to one Dash robot (retail for US$149.99), while teams in the tween-teen group require Wonder Workshop’s more advanced Cue bot (retail US$199.99). In addition, all teams must have a compatible mobile device to use Wonder Workshop’s apps to program the robots. Some basic prototyping and design materials are also mandatory (Wonder Workshop provides a free printable programming mat).
After a final round in February 2020, the winning team in each category gets a US$5,000 STEM grant provided by Wonder Workshop. Last year’s competition included more than 35,000 participants.
Since launching in 2012, Wonder Workshop’s programs and products are now used in more than 25,000 schools worldwide. In late 2017, the company raised US$41 million in Series C funds, led by Tencent Holdings, TAL education Group, MindWorks Ventures, Madrona Venture Group, Softbank Korea and VTRON Group, to expand into Asian markets and launch new educational products.