Making technology accessible and fun

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As kids head back to school next month you might want to give them some extra-curricular activities that will encourage the creative parts of their brain.

I recently came across KiwiCrate, a Los Altos-based company behind projects designed to make science, technology, engineering, art and mathematics accessible, engaging and fun for children aged up to 16.

It works through a subscription basis. Parents, or grandparents, subscribe to KiwiCare on behalf of the children in their life and each month a project turns up in a crate.

Each crate includes an educational magazine, supplies for the project, and highly detailed instructions. It’s all designed to cover science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as well as art and design, imaginative play, and both fine and gross motor skills.

Subscriptions are available for five age groups, and all projects are aimed at inspiring children to see themselves as scientists, artists, creators and makers. What better way to lift productivity in future generations?

“Kiwi Crate, Inc. develops award-winning, hands-on projects and activities designed to spark your child’s curiosity and creativity,” KiwiCrate says in its marketing materials. “Our mission is to encourage the next generation of tinkerers, creators, and innovators to build the creative problem-solving skills needed to succeed in life.”

Science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) projects are available for nine to 16-year-olds in the Tinker Crate. I’m particularly interested in this one as it teaches problem solving skills that could be highly useful in the workplace. Sure, they’ll need to be tempered through the coming years at university, but at least it puts them on the right track.

Projects that come in the Tinker Crate include building a functioning trebuchet that launches a ping pong ball more than three metres, making a hydraulic claw and building your own constellation with fibre optics.
“My daughter is a sponge for STEM projects and this is the perfect solution to constantly searching for new things to engage her,” said one subscriber.

The Cricket Crate is for children under three years and is aimed at exploration and discovery style learning using a play mat.

Play and learn is the theme of the Koala Crate designed for three and four-year-olds. Projects include making soft toys, painting, and creating abstract sculptures.

Five to eight-year-olds are encouraged to engage with science and art with the Kiwi Crate. Projects include building an arcade claw and pompoms, making paper kites, and making jellyfish.

The Doodle Crate covers art and design and is aimed at 14 – 16-year-olds. Projects include customising and building a wooden clock, learning sumi-e ink wash painting and making a set of colour-blocked candles.

If the subscription model doesn’t work for you, there’s many ideas here that you could introduce to the children in your life. They are bound to love you for it.

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About Author

David Hallett

David Hallett is a director of Hamilton software specialist Company-X, design house E9 and chief nerd at Waikato Need A Nerd.