Targetting STEAM Skills With The Amazing Osmo

Targeting STEAM Skills With The Amazing Osmo

On the 8th of November we celebrate STEAM Day, and although not everyone may be familiar with the term STEAM, it remains a big topic of conversation in the world today! In short STEAM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art and Mathematics and our children are significantly better off with strong STEAM skills in the world we live in!

The world that our children was born into, and the world that we grew up in are two entirely different worlds. Technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, and it seems like children are born wired in on the latest technological advancements. It takes me hours to figure out my new system update on my phone, but give the phone to my 4 year old and he can figure out a password, change my settings, download some new apps and use up all of my data on “Netflix” in a matter of moments. Jonathan Drake, Head of accessories at the Core Group said the following:” Children need to prepare for an exciting and tech-driven future, and we need to enable them to acquire the necessary skills to build their careers.” This is where the Importance of STEAM comes in. STEAM programs help children to develop creative problem-solving, critical thinking, and logical reasoning skills. So, let’s dive a little deeper into STEAM before I introduce you to the star of the post!

What exactly is STEAM?

STEAM is an educational learning approach that uses Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts and Mathematics as access points for guiding student inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking. – Susan Riley, Arts Integration Specialist

STEM/STEAM-based programmes take an integrated approach to learning and teaching. This requires an purposeful connection between curriculum learning objectives, standards, assessments, and lesson design or implementation. STEAM programs therefore uses science, maths and technology content to solve real world problems through hands on learning and creative design. Once again Jonathan Drake said it so well: “STEAM is more than learning science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. At it’s core, STEAM is the process of integrating these disciplines to help children develop new ways of thinking that interlink science and mathematics to technology and engineering and how it all fits into our daily lives. This holistic approach to learning encourages children to experiment with concepts and develop critical thinking, logical analysis, curiosity, and inquiry through trial and error.”

Why is STEAM Education so important?

As mentioned above the world is changing rapidly, and technology, science and engineering is quickly becoming more dominant. STEAM based learning programs equips our children with the skills and knowledge they need to thrive in the 21stcentury. STEAM learning develops innovative mindsets, and gives our children the ability to solve real-life  problems. STEAM integrates various disciplines simultaneously and promotes learning experiences that allows our children to explore, question, research, discover and exercise innovative building skills and it helps them to understand and explore how the world around them works.

Benefits of STEAM Education

  1. It teaches children to think out of the box
  2. It creates an environment where children feels safe to express innovative and creative ideas and therefore develops creativity
  3. It’s hands-on learning
  4. Children learn that everything is connected and will start to make their own connections
  5. Teaches children to apply their knowledge to real world situations
  6. It encourages children to build confidence and resilience by giving them a safe space to fail and try again
  7. It encourages risk-taking and experimentation
  8. It teaches children about the power of technology and innovation
  9. It teaches problem-solving and encourages team work
  10. It makes learning fun and interesting

I can’t possibly dive into the finer details of STEAM Learning in just one single blogpost, but now that you know a little bit more about STEAM education, it’s importance and benefits, I’d like to introduce you to Osmo – the award-winning, innovative educational system that combines tablet screens with tactile tools to encourage STEM learning for children in South Africa!

If you’ve read my previous blogposts, you’d know by now that I have an absolute love-hate relationship with screentime. In the end, it’s all about balance for me, and whenever A does get screentime, I try my very best to make it count. I would much rather have him learning or watching something educational than just having him turn into a screen zombie, that stares blankly at a screen. This is why the Osmo is so incredible! It takes screentime and it turns it into a magical, fun, hands-on learning experience!

So what is the Osmo?

Osmo is a children’s game company that revolutionised the world of gaming and learning for our children as it combines the digital world with the physical one to create a unique and interactive gaming experience! Osmo is an educational accessory that shortens the distance between the real and digital worlds through combining normal tablet screens with the tactile and practical interaction they need. The Osmo range encourages our children to participate actively, to think, play and see their own creations come to life on technology. In simple words the Osmo is a simple device consisting of a base, reflector and some tools like letter and number tiles – you place your tablet in the base and slip the reflector onto the camera, and it then brings everything your child does alive on the screen in a colourful, fun and interactive way.

How does this all work?

Osmo’s games are based on it’s “Reflective AI” technology that turns your Ipad, Iphone or Amazon Fire into a blank canvas on which children can express their creativity and learn. This proprietary and first-of-its kind technology allows objects that are placed in front of the screen to be reflected on the device being used. In this way, our children can perfectly combine the world of video games and the real, physical world, while continuing to learn and have fun.

All you have to do is:

  1. Place the Osmo sensor at the height of the device’s camera.
  2. Like a scanner it will capture everything that happens in front of the screen on the play surface, such as your child’s movements, and the various game pieces he/she manipulates and places on the table.
  3. This will then appear on the screen of the device being used which will provide immediate and fun auditory and visual feedback.

A received the Osmo Genius Starter Kit and we had an absolute ball trying out all of the games, and yes I meant WE! The Genius Starter Kit is designed for children ages 6 to 10, but A is only 4 and we could still enjoy all of the games. The kit comes with everything they need to go on this journey of physical learning and digital fun! It included:

  1. The Osmo base and reflector
  2. All of the tangram pieces
  3. Number tiles
  4. Letter Tiles
  5. Stackable little containers for all of the pieces

From the get-go Osmo took us to this magical universe that just makes learning extra fun and exciting! Just opening the box was an experience in itself with little hidden messages and activities all around you! Then we got to the  contents – everything was just beautifully packaged and I just love how they all fit perfectly into each other, like perfect little puzzle pieces. The reflector slips perfectly into the base and the little containers stack on top of each other to give it this timeless, stunning look and feel! I love when things are organized and this was truly such a joy to unpack. Once you have everything in front of you the installation, etc. is incredibly quick and easy. It took me maybe 10 minutes max to get everything set up and ready for A! The apps guide you every step of the way. It truly was such a simple and straightforward process. A could not wait to jump straight in and play and I loved watching his movements come alive on the colourful, fun and interactive screens! The shouts of excitement whenever he saw his designs and creations come alive on the tablet screen made me want to jump out of my chair with joy! Learning truly has never been this fun and exciting! There was so much for him to do and explore that he could easily play for hours and not even realize that he was actually busy learning. The kit came with 5 different games:

  1. Tangram – here he could use the tangram pieces to arrange over 100 puzzle designs to match the on-screen shapes/pictures. The screen guided his little hands and even gave him some tips when he got a little stuck.
  2. Newton – In Newton he needs to try and solve creative physics puzzles by drawing lines or placing objects in front of the screen. It is so much fun and kept his little hands busy for hours!
  3. Masterpiece -This was one of his favourite games because here he could draw anything and watch his imagination come alive on the screen.
  4. Numbers – A loves maths so this was his go-to game! Here he could add, count, and subtract to pop the number bubbles and solve the maths equations through using the little number tiles. A loved arranging the physical tiles to add and subtract and it really helped him to understand basic mathematical concepts.
  5. Words – This one was my personal favourite, especially since A is busy learning to read! Here he could learn spelling and vocabulary with on-screen images and skill level selection. In this game a picture appears on the screen, and A had to arrange the correct letter tiles to spell out the word. I loved that they had a 4-5 year old option with simple words that A could already spell to help build his confidence.

You’ve heard all about the amazing Osmo now but did you know that many schools also use the Osmo because of all of it’s amazing benefits? Some of the incredible benefits of the Genius Kit includes:

  1. It develops visual problem-solving skills
  2. It boosts creativity
  3. It helps develop letter recognition, phonics and reading skills and helps build vocabulary
  4. It promotes comprehension and retention of information and knowledge
  5. It helps children understand the basic concepts of mathematics, science and coding in a way that they can understand
  6. It makes learning fun., because they learn through playing.

These are only but a few of the benefits that Osmo Offers!

What we love about Osmo:

1.The packaging

The packaging alone gets you excited! The box is full of little surprises!

2. The look

The Osmo looks timeless and sleek, and it’s truly something I wont mind displayed somewhere. Everything fits together like little puzzle pieces!

3. The stackable containers

I LOVE the stackable containers! Each container is labelled and can stack on top of the other so that everything can be packed away neatly, whilst still looking great and taking up the least amount of space!

4. Installation and set up

I love how simple the apps make installation and set-up. They guide you through everything step-by-step and not once did I feel lost or confused. Everything went smoothly and surprisingly fast!

5. All of it’s educational benefits

Need I say more? Osmo is an incredible learning tool to have and I’m definitely using it with my Grade 2’s next year as well! It’s an amazing way to make learning fun and exciting and the best way to introduce new concepts. Kids love the Osmo apps and it’s really not very hard to see why! It’s colourful, interactive and fun!

6. Curriculum based learning

I loved that it is based on the curriculum and that you can use it to build on what your child is currently learning at school.

7. So much to explore

There are so many different kits and games that encourages learning that you could never run out of options! From the ages 3 all the way up to highschool there is a program out there to enjoy! You can even get a kit for family game night! Now how cool is that? I also love that A can still enjoy the Genius kit for years to come and that it grows with him and his knowledge!

8. Osmo World

I love that Osmo World brings all of your games together! So you don’t have to download 20 different apps for each and every kit. You can download your games in Osmo world and everything is right there for you to enjoy!

9. The Osmo parent app

The Osmo parent app tracks your child’s progress and keeps you updated on how much time he/she has spent learning and what type of learning the time was spent on!

10. Excellent Birthday or Christmas gift

Not sure what to get your little one for his/her birthday or Christmas? Just get another add-on kit or game for his Osmo! With so many fun and exciting games or kits to choose from you can never go wrong!

11. No Wi-fi required

AFTER SETUP! You DO need Wifi to download the games and set up, but once everything has been downloaded and set up you do not need to be connected to the internet to play the games, which makes it perfect for the dark loadshedding evenings in SA.

As with many things you have the good and the bad, and hence there are a few things that we did not like about the Osmo (we’ve got to keep it real right?!)

1.Limitations

I hate that the Osmo is limited to Ipads and Fire tablets! Not everyone or all schools own an Ipad or Fire tablet and I so wish that the program was available for all kinds of tablets and/or phones! I really do believe that all children can benefit from this amazing program and hopefully soon they’ll be able to!

2. Very specific with regards to models

Even though it is compatible with Ipads and fire tablets they are very specific with regards to which models the base and reflector works with. Not ALL Ipads or fire tablets are compatible with the Osmo base and reflector. You also need a different base for an Ipad and fire tablet and the bases and reflectors are not interchangeable. There is also 2 different reflectors that are compatible with different Ipads so choosing the correct base and reflector can become a little tricky.

This being said once you have the Osmo base and reflector you are set to go with nothing holding you back! As a teacher and mom the Osmo gets a double thumbs up from me! Kids learn through seeing, doing, exploring, experimenting and playing and Osmo makes all of that possible and takes children on a learning adventure that is out of this world! Osmo not only builds a universe of hands on play for our children, but also nurtures our children’s minds by unleashing the power of imagination! Osmo is a program that needs to be experienced by all children and schools! Learning should be fun and children should learn the Osmo way!

Tap here to read more about Osmo and discover the world of Osmo kits and games! – https://www.playosmo.com/en/about-us/

Lots of love

~ A and Mommy ~

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