TEDtalk for Siftables – Digital tech blocks that think…very cool!


I am a huge fan of TEDtalks .  TED stands for Technology, Entertainment, Design and was started in 1984 with the goal to bring together the leading thinkers in these different fields.  It has branched out to include leaders and innovators all around the world.  With the help of sponsors/donors, TED is now putting all of the discussions online for the world to share and spread knowledge for free.

If you continue to check in with my blog, you will no doubt be introduced to some very cool presentations from TED and many other leading conference sites.

This particular video is a very innovative take on the way children (and adults I suppose) learn through visual clues and physical interactions.  As you can see, Siftables integrates the traditional types of blocks kids use with intelligent software programs which enable them to move blocks accordingly and get instant feedback.  Allowing kids to play with these blocks gives them the virtual/digital aspect which they have grown accustomed to (video games, animated television shows, and other handheld devices) and gives multiple options for parents (and schools) to purchase “blank” blocks and run different software on them.  As a culture, it is great to give children a hands on approach to manipulating their environment as they get accustomed to problem solving, creating, and interacting with technology.  I can only imagine what the spin offs of this technology will be as the youth will have the chance to “play and learn” at the same time.  There has been some talk about incorporating more educational content (events/people/themes/facts) into traditional video games, but this flips that approach on its head by creating its own platform and intentions which will introduce kids to both play and learning at a different level.  Many educators have known for years that the best way to learn is to have fun while doing it and Siftables will be a great way to accomplish that goal.  

As parents and teachers begin to integrate these types of toys into the play/learning processes of children, they will become more accustomed to simultaneously playing and learning  (whether it is education while playing or playing during education…).  One key note is that the children may or may not know they are learning, and will therefore continue to interact becasue it is “cool”. Either way, the kids of the future will be more tech savvy and have a far better grasp on how things work in the world around them.  Now if only schools could stop squashing creativity, we might be able to encourage children to come up with new solutions to old problems.  I for one would love to know that kids are learning (and having fun) by manipulating their environments in fields such as science, math, technology, etc.  I do not recall ever having the ability to mix and match my love for Lego’s, my video games, and my required science homework growing up….OH TO BE A KID AGAIN! hahaha

One last thought.  I am amazed by the increased exposure to every major and minor aspect of human life thanks to technology.  The fact that I can hop onto Google and search any unknown topic while sitting at home, in the car, or in class is definitely having an increasing influence on the way I learn and grow as a person(you as well!).  Knowing that the kids of the future will have access to any and everything has its pros and its cons, but if done correctly, we can have children who are introduced to things such as space exploration, medicine, technology, quantum physics, etc at a very macro level, so that when they encounter such topics at greater depths, they will be much more suited to grasp the subject matter and apply it to their lives.  I think the next wave of children (my generations’ children) will be so equipped to tackle world issues, that we will need some abrupt paradigm shifts to accept solutions to complex issues offered by the under 20 crowd.  It is shocking to see young adults making tech devices and science breakthroughs now in the under 30 crowds, so why would it be so odd to have solutions created by younger and younger kids in the future?  I’m game!…and maybe one of them can figure out how to give me a cell phone signal in an elevator!!! lol

Thanks for reading and please offer any comments and/or insights you have to share!

~ by Adam Maikkula on February 23, 2009.

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