The Toy Association is teaming up with the Good Play Guide consultancy to launch a new program that evaluates and certifies STEAM toys.
While the terms STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and STEAM (STEM plus arts) are popular in the toy industry, there isn’t much consistency around how each is acronym is used, says Amanda Gummer, a psychologist and founder of toy industry consultancy Good Play Guide. As a result, many toycos create “STEAM” playthings, which often lack the art aspect, she says. Parents in turn, often don’t have an understanding of which toys to purchase if they’re looking to support their kids in a specific field. Compounding the issue is the growing problem of fake reviews, which makes deciding on a toy an often overwhelming experience, says Gummer.
The two organization hope to solve this problems with a new accreditation program, which will include a stamp of approval to help guide parent’s purchase choices with a reliable metric, says Gummer.
The program will evaluable toys for kids ages two and up. Items up for accreditation will be reviewed by a team of kids and experts from Good Play Guide. Toys will be judged based on their ability to engage kids, as well as whether they fit The Toy Association’s framework for good STEAM toys, which requires products help kids develop skills and have real world relevance.
Toy Association members can submit an item for review for US$950 through the Good Play Guide website, while non members can submit a product for US$1,450.
Beyond the seal of approval, submissions will receive a detailed report on what kids thought about the toys and how they played with them to help companies improve on product development and shape marketing strategies, says Gummer.
The Toy Association is a non-profit trade organization that develops toy safety standards and hosts industry events. The Good Play Guide is an industry consultancy that supports toycos with research and accreditation services. The partnership benefits both parties, says Gummer, as The Toy Association was searching for a framework to determine what STEAM toys had tangible benefits to kids, while Good Play Guide was looking for an opportunity to expand into the US.
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