ATOMS Toys Help Interest Kids in Engineering

November 26, 2012

10:10 am

When the Seamless Toy Company invited kids to come play with their prototypes, they had a few surprises. One boy hooked up his robot to a light sensor, so its arms would swing faster when there was more light. One girl rigged up a bird on her hat to chirp when she stamped her foot. Another kid made a stuffed cat meow every time you tilted it toward water. And kids attached an “exploding brick” to their LEGOS that could send pieces flying when an enemy got too close.

Seamless is raising money on Kickstarter for toys called ATOMS. ATOMS come in a bunch of different parts, like batteries, knobs, and accelerometers, that can be put together or attached to your toys to bring them to life. The team of 25, based in Boulder, wants kids to discover the true creativity that comes from building things yourself.

“Kids could make the things that they imagine, and they aren’t limited by what comes out of the box,” says Shannon McCoy, internal operations manager.

In the long run, this could also interest kids in STEM fields like engineering and help solve today’s problems, like the devastation from Hurricane Sandy, says founder Michael Rosenblatt. “We’re not going to be able to solve those problems as a society with the number of people that are going into engineering now,” he says.

ATOMS come in three sets. There’s the cute pet monster, which you can build to run away when the lights come on. There’s the magic wand, which can be used to turn a light on or off and open the door. And there’s the iOS control set, which can turn into a tank and control your toys. To make sure these aren’t too complicated, Seamless appointed a seventh grader named Fiona as chief creative officer.

Because they come in parts, ATOMS can appeal to both genders. Girls can attach them to their dolls or costumes, like the chirping hat above. “We want to break down some of the norms … like gender bias,” says Rosenblatt, a father himself, who works at Samsung. McCoy thinks that ATOMS can engage both sides of the brain, not just the left or right.

ATOMS joins other Kickstarter projects that hope to spur children’s creativity, like GoldieBlox and MaKey MaKey. They expect to ship in June 2013.

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Kira M. Newman is a Tech Cocktail writer interested in the harsh reality of entrepreneurship, work-life balance, and psychology. She is the founder of The Year of Happy and has been traveling around the world interviewing entrepreneurs in Asia, Europe, and North America since 2011. Follow her @kiramnewman or contact [email protected]

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