OWI Robotics is a proud Dr. Toy’s Alumni Member.
View OWI Robotics entire product folio on Magic Toy Box.
Renewable energy sources and green technologies will play a major role in children’s lives for 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 “green” technology jobs.
With alternative energy playing such a pivotal role, there is no better time than now to start children on the path to learning basic concepts behind these technologies.
Fortunately, educational, fun – age-appropriate toys are available to parents and educators designed to teach children about alternative energy concepts. Educational toys have many advantages as a learning tool. Simply sitting a child down and teaching them about alternative energy will not necessarily ignite their enthusiasm or interest in the topic. Nor will having them read, when many 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 especially when parents and educators are competing with TV, video games, the Internet, and a host of other modern distractions. Instead, a host of science-based, interactive children’s toys on the market are being used to teach children about alternative energy concepts like solar, wind, and “green” vehicles, in a fun, hands-on way.
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, the award-winning 6-in-1 Educational Solar Kit from OWI, for example, allows children to snap together 21 parts to create six different working models including an airboat, windmill, puppy, and two different planes. Or in 2013, the 14-in-1 Educational Solar Robot Kit allows for two levels was introduced. Level one includes: Turtle-bot, Beetle-bot, Quadru-bot, Boat-bot, Walker-bot, Dog-bot, and Wheel-bot. After they amuse themselves with the entry level, one can challenge their manipulative skills with the second level: Roly Poly-bot, Auto-bot, Slither-bot, surf-bot, Zombie-bot, Crab-bot, and Row-bot. Each completed model is powered by a mini solar panel using sunlight or indoor halogen lighting that literally brings the toy to life. 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. The 6-in-1 kit is so popular it was named one of Dr. Toy’s “100 Best Children’s Products”, and “10 Best Educational Products” for 2009.
Stevanne Auerbach,PhD also acknowledged OWI’s commitment to producing long-lasting, educational, creative, and eco-friendly products by selecting 14 in 1 Educational Solar Robot Kit as the recipient of the “Best Green Products” for 2013.
Based on American geography, wind power will become an increasingly important part of the country’s energy portfolio in the future. “The United States has abundant wind resources, with enough resource potential to power the entire nation several times over,” states a U.S. Department of Energy Efficiency & Renewable Energy website document. Wind power is based on harnessing the force of the wind to drive a turbine that produces electricity. A great way for children to learn more about how a wind turbine works is the Eco-Biker, which can be clipped to a bicycle’s handlebars or anywhere there is a breeze. The wind-powered fan energized an LED light, so the faster the child pedals, the stronger the wind, and the brighter the light. When children see how their effort affects wind speed and light intensity, they gain insight into how renewable wind power works.
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. Using a variety of fuels, fuel cells convert electrochemical energy into electricity, with the only by-products being heat and water. One fun way to introduce children to alternative energy fuel cell power is to expose them to a fuel cell powered toy car. For instance, instead of using batteries, children can make the Salt Water Fuel Cell Car from OWI which runs continuously for 5-7 hours by adding saltwater to a magnesium metal sheet in the toy’s fuel cell module. The Salt Water Fuel Cell Car won Dr. Toy’s prestigious “Best Green Product” award.
Part of preparing children for an energy and environmentally-challenged future will 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, parts, and playgrounds.
OWI Robotics is a proud Dr. Toy’s Alumni Member.