As the saying goes, “Our children are the future.” And if anything is certain about the future, it is that renewable energy sources, green technologies, and robotics will play a major role in our children’s lives. Everything from using wind or solar power generated on site in their homes, to driving alternative fuel vehicles, or embarking on a career in one of America’s future “STEM” jobs.
With STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) playing such a pivotal role in schools and society, there is no better time than now to start children on the path to learning real-world applications behind these fields of education. Fortunately, a host of educational – and yes, fun – age-appropriate toys are available to parents and educators designed to teach children about STEM concepts.
Simply sitting a child down and teaching them about energy conversion will not necessarily ignite their enthusiasm or interest in the topic. Nor will having them read about it as a sole strategy, not when so many children are reluctant, struggling readers, or kinesthetic learners.
Although science kits are helpful, they often depend on expert guidance and have limited play value – which is a tough sell when parents and educators are competing with TV, video games, the Internet, and a host of modern distractions. Instead, a host of science-based, interactive children’s toys on the market are being used to teach children about applying science, technology, engineering, and math skills to solve complications facing today’s world.
Because solar power converts energy from the sun into electricity or heat, it can replace facilities powered by oil, coal, and other non-renewable fuels. Solar panels, used to capture the energy in sunlight are becoming an increasingly common sight on rooftops, calculators, and of course toys. Some solar powered toys, particularly those children can build themselves, provide an ideal mix of creative, active learning. In 2009, OWI introduced several Educational Solar Kits and winning a plethora of awards. OWI Mini Solar Kits are powered by a solar panel using sunlight for outdoor use or halogen lighting for indoor use. As children watch the toy they built move around and speed up or slow down depending on the intensity of the light, they’re not only learning and experimenting with solar power but also having fun with it. OWI's newest model of solar racing features not one, but two forms of power. The Solar/Battery Top Fuel Dragster, which gets its namesake from its long powerful dragster like frame (8.25"x3.25"x 3"), will be a fan favorite for years to come. Boys and Girls ages 8+ enjoy the challenge of building their very own dragster, and once the (30-piece) assembly is complete, they will have the option of racing their friends both indoors and outdoors! The Solar/Battery Top Fuel Dragster features a double XL solar panel that is strong enough to power the large frame on a sunny day. Run out of daylight, or it's not sunny outside? No problem! Switch the power source of the Solar/Battery Top Fuel Dragster to the single AA battery compartment (battery not included), and the fun will not have to end. We envision "Blue Ribbon" capabilities at your next Science Fair!
Two-thirds of the oil Americans use each day is for transportation, much of it in gasoline for cars. Gas powered cars, however, are not only significant contributors to pollution and greenhouse gas emissions but also relatively inefficient in converting the energy from gasoline into usable energy (only about 20 percent of gasoline’s thermal energy potential is converted to mechanical work in cars). Unlike non-renewable oil, fuel cell technology is a clean source of electrical power generation that’s efficient and non-polluting.
OWI simplifies renewable energy sources or alternative energy in their newest additions. Easily grasp hydraulic, pneumatic, air power, and kinetic power ideologies. Some of the kits include a full curriculum, complete with test questions, answers, and fun activities to extend the play value. Producing energy, storing energy, and using energy makes for a great science and learning kit.
Just as children grow up before parents and educators, the future will be here all too soon. Part of preparing children for an energy and environmentally-challenged future should be teaching them how to constructively deal with it. Fortunately, well-designed children’s toys can help make learning about alternative energy a fun, hands-on process in classrooms, homes, parks, and playgrounds.
In 1980, OWI Incorporated was looking for a way to expand its consumer product lines and bring its extensive technology background to the educational community. RobotiKits™ and OWIKits® were developed to affordably introduce students to robotics technology utilizing app controls, wireless controls, coding principles and infrared sensors. With OWI robotics, the user is able to construct and operate six award-winning kits that range from beginners with no experience (Rookie Coding Robot) up to advanced mechanical assembly skill levels (Robotic Arm Edge). OWI Robotics has also re-introduced Infrared technology in recent years with the RE/CO Robot, and KIKORobot.962. These kits are popular in classroom STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) as fun and challenging tools for teaching. In conjunction with educators, OWI Inc. has developed a fully structured teaching curriculum with modules tailored to the kit’s unique electronic and mechanical features.
Over 4 decades, OWI Incorporated has made a concerted effort in providing consumers with award-winning educational products that are fun to play with. We look forward to continuing that effort with new STEM/STEAM model kits released yearly. Thank you for choosing OWI!