Nintendo has partnered with non-profit educational company Institute of Play to provide Nintendo Labo kits to elementary schools across the US. The Nintendo Labo Classroom Program aims to reach 2,000 students between the ages of 8-11.
Nintendo Labo kits include DIY buildable cardboard pieces that kids (and adults) can integrate with the Joy-Con controllers of the Switch to create interactive playsets. Examples in the Variety Kit include a fishing rod, a piano, and a remote controlled car. They’re powered by the Toy-Con Garage software, which introduces basic programming language to a wide audience.
The Institute of Play is building a full-fledged curriculum for teachers on using Nintendo Labo in the classroom. The company is made up of educators, researchers, and game designers.
“We are always on the lookout for new tools and technologies that combine the best of learning with the spirit of play, and in Nintendo Labo we found an inspiring and innovative approach in both areas,” said Arana Shapiro, Co-Executive Director of the Institute of Play. “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.”
A pilot program will initially roll out to schools in the New York area. Nintendo and the Institute of Play will use these classes to develop a teacher guide and lesson plans for using Nintendo Labo to teach programming and STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Math). The Nintendo Labo Teacher Guide will be available for free later this fall.
After the pilot program is complete, the Nintendo Labo Classroom Program will expand to 100 schools across the country. Each school will be provided with Switch systems and Nintendo Labo: Variety Kits, as well as the teacher guide. The program will run through the full school year.
The program is also being offered in Canada through Actua, Canada’s leading education-outreach organization for STEAM.
“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,” said Reggie Fils-Aime, Nintendo of America, President. “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.”