App of the Week Spotlight:
Creativity is not encouraged in kids these days. The school system claims to foster creativity, but does it? After all everyone has the same tight set of rules they need to follow, don’t you dare step out of line. If your child steps out of the nice neat little package the schools try to pigeon them into then you get a call, and if your child continues to color outside the lines, then suddenly your child has ‘issues.’
It’s nice to see one company that is willing to step outside the lines and remove some of the boundaries that restrict creativity. A Brooklyn-based app company called Tinybop has created an application for kids that fosters creativity and imaginative thinking without excess restrictions.
The founder, Raul Gutierrez wasn’t worried about the restrictions placed on our children during their schooling as much as he was on the restrictions on their playing. He feels that all the branding and toys sets are restricting the imagination by not encouraging further exploration.
A popular example would be Legos. Most Legos are sold in kits that have a set of instructions for one model. The children get excited about building the model on the box and dutifully follow the instructions to create that model, but it never occurs to the children that those pieces can be disassembled and recreated into something totally different.
Gutierrez says, “I don’t mean to just pick on Lego. It’s happening all over the place, with physical toys and with digital toys. That play pattern, of having a set of parts, creating something that is the product of your imagination, and then repeating it—changing it, testing it, and starting over again—is really lost.”
It is this reason that his company has created The Robot Factory, unfortunately at this point it is only available on iOS, but hopefully they expand to other platforms soon.
This is the first in a series of Tinybop games that they are referring to as ‘Digial Toys.’ It is a digital box of tinker toys with no limits. Your child is free to combine the parts in any way they want and then they can run their robot through an obstacle course to see how they perform. There are no challenges or levels, it is just plain open-ended fun that lets children use their imaginations.
Rather than using the modern graphical definition of robots, they have gone a little more old school and lean towards the old-timey pulp science fiction. With the robot parts illustrated by Owen Davey.
The possibilities for creation are almost endless and with planned upgrades to give the robots more per-programmed moves such as dancing and high-fives children’s imaginations will soar.
Now if they would only release it for Android or better yet, make it a game I can put on my sons computer.