STEM is the future
I received my Nintendo Labo 01: variety kit this afternoon, and I immediately went through it. There are three parts: Make, Play and Discover. You need to fold and formulate different items, like RC car, fishing rod, and piano. Each piece will take you a while to finish it. Larger and more complicated piece will take longer time: the toy-con piano will take up to 210 minutes to complete that, so you need to prepare for that. Luckily, the making process is full of fun, and you will recall the old memories when you played with scissors and papers decades ago. Although I think the moving speed could be a little bit faster, or you could at least adjust the watching speed. Nintendo does have a way to “stretch” the next button, but it is either too fast, or too slow.
After finishing the item, you could now enjoy some arcade-like game. Take the fishing game as an example, and it allows you to fish using the fishing rod. The game is relatively simple: you firstly push the fishing line into the water, either in the shallow water or deep in the water. You will see some fishes moving around, and when a fish bites the hook, you need to rotate the fishing rod until the fish come out of the water. There are some strategies: fishes from the shallow water are unlikely to resist, which means that you could rotate the rod as quickly as possible and it will almost 100% sure to be caught by that. Things get complicated in the deeper water: the fishes are tricky, and they will try to touch but not bite the hook for the first time, and finally relax and bite the hook. The fishes are also more powerful and aggressive. Although I never fished before, I know that if a fish is resisting while you are pulling hard, the fishing line will break. The same thing happens in the game, too. If you disregard the sign that the fishing line is blinking and keep pulling, the line will break and let the fish free. In that case, you need to relax and put the fishing line a little bit, so that the fishing line won’t break. It took me a while when I try to catch an anglerfish, but it is full of fun! The game though could be more complicated with more features, like catch history. But overall it creates an experience that you will be enjoyed.
The Discover part, which is the most educational part, will be here after playing the game. There are three characters, and I call those characters triangle, circle and rectangular (because their faces are precisely in the same shape). They will go over through some features and the scientific reason behind the cardboard. In the RC car chapter, it teaches the infra-red camera, and why it could see even in the dark, and how to detect the item. It doesn’t go profoundly because of the targeting audience, but I could there is plenty of room to implement for different audiences.
STEM is not a new idea, and many companies have already devoted to develop sTEM education for K12 education, like Lego, Sony etc. Nintendo Labo lacks some of the key features compared to the products developed by those companies, like DC motors, but Nintendo takes a different approach to use cardboard and the joy-con to have similiar features. Take RC car for an example, by vibrating a pair of joy-con, the “car” could actually move, and even follow the path. It reveals that Nintendo is probably the most innovative gaming company and could think ourside the box (to the cardboard). I look forward to seeing more companies joining the STEM force and create products that are both fun and educational to the kids.