The Osmo Genius starter kit is a learning system that integrates physical play with the digital world. This tool is manufactured for elementary school-aged children through to early tweens, with an age rating of six to ten years. The kit incorporates five games that are geared towards ensuring children acquire certain skills. These games are numbers, words, tangram, newton, and masterpiece played with special pieces provided in the kit. The game case contains an iPad stand where a participant’s iPad rests, a clip-on reflector for seeing what a player creates. The case also contains three stackable storage boxes with words, numbers, tangram, and an instruction card that provides guidelines on how one can start. To play the game, one places an iPad on its stand and clips the reflector over the camera to ensure the camera can ‘see’ what a child is playing. Afterward, one takes one of the small cards that are available for each game and follows the written URL to download the required Osmo app.
Toy Impact on Child
The kit impacts STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art, and math) within a child and helps them to grow in these disciplines. This is due to the physical and interactive nature of the game using a technological device, an iPad (Brown, 2020). The game also helps a child interact with objects and things within their environment as the numbers, words, shapes, and figures are things they see every day. The games are based on the cognitive-developmental theory, particularly focusing on the concrete operational stage of this theory that falls between ages seven and 11 (Aktürk et al., 2017). During this stage, children acquire an improved understanding of mental processes and commence thinking logically about material events. Children during this stage lack the complexity to comprehend abstract or theoretical concepts.
The cognitive skills developed by the children depend on the game predominantly played. The numbers game enhances the various mathematical aspects of cognitive abilities by engaging the children in addition, counting, multiplication, and connecting. The Osmo app provides the specific sums that the children should solve alongside other numerical problems (Hornburg et al., 2018). The children display the solution they think is appropriate for the question and the app verifies it or corrects it. The solutions displayed to the iPad can be either one number solutions or multiple number solutions, greatly improving mathematics for the children who play the game.
Words provide players with an opportunity to greatly improve their language comprehension skills. Players are presented with a picture and a target word associated with it. The players use the letter cards to spell out the word required by the game. Words can be played in competition with the AI or solo by the child. When played in the competition, it enhances quick thinking and confidence in the child (AlDakhil et al., 2019). The pictures are of high quality and immensely accurate in what they depict and require a child to decipher. The game also expands vocabulary enabling the children to better understand and visualize newer words.
The tangram game in the kit enhances artistry as it is made up of a dissection puzzle. The colorful geometric pieces can be stored as a square shape. The shapes can, however, be manipulated by the player to make various figures when presented with a black silhouette of something e.g. a bird shape (AlDakhil et al., 2019). A player constructs the required thing and the silhouette lights up whenever a player places one correct piece. This enhances engineering and artistry, essential cognitive skills that should be developed during this stage and which are essential for life and development.
Newton is a game that involves bouncing and rolling and does not involve the three sets of pieces. A player draws on plain paper a path and makes obstacles along with the paper and places it in front of the iPad camera. The iPad emulates the pattern drawn by the player and releases a ball to follow the pattern on the paper, making bounces and rolling on appropriate points (AlDakhil et al., 2019). This enables a player to understand angles and velocity, crucial aspects of physics, vital for cognitive development. Masterpiece is the final game in the kit that enhances artistry, an essential cognitive skill (AlDakhil et al., 2019). This game provides an outline of a picture on a real-life drawing, providing the tracings which the player is required to follow in drawing similar objects. Once completed, the images drawn can be saved or shared.
The Osmo Genius starter kit provides children with many advantages that enable learning and would be perfect were it not for a few flaws. The kit requires the installation of different apps for the various games that takes time and other resources. Downloading the apps is also difficult for some iPad users due to restrictions on the installation of apps. The game could be made better by ensuring that the apps are harnessed into one that is easy to download. The reach of the game can also be enhanced ensuring that more children can learn from it. This entails ensuring that the game is available on other smart devices and operating systems.
Aktürk, A. A., Demi̇rcanH. Ö., Şenyurt, E., & Çeti̇nM. (2017). Turkish early childhood education curriculum from the perspective of STEM education: A document analysis. Journal of Turkish Science Education, 14(4), 16–34. Web.
AlDakhil, S., Taleb, E. A., Ghamlas, M. A., & Al-Megren, S. (2019). Assessing the usability of a tangible educational game for children. IEEE Xplore. Web.
Brown, K. M. (2020). BoxLab: A comparison of brand experiences for STEM toys and their influence on gender. Digitallibrary. Web.
Hornburg, C. B., Schmitt, S. A., & Purpura, D. J. (2018). Relations between preschoolers’ mathematical language understanding and specific numeracy skills. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 176, 84–100. Web.