Parents search for toys that make learning math, science fun

Sunday, December 3, 2017
Toys are seen in this undated image.
Toys are seen in this undated image.

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Toys that combine a STEM education with a child's fascination and imagination are gaining in popularity. As Michael Finney reports, toymakers are counting on parents shelling out big bucks for their child's education.

Playing with robots is only half the fun for UB Tech.

Its creators hope kids find building them is just as exciting.

"They can actually learn to assemble and build their own robot using 3D instructions," said Max Mai of UB Tech.

This computer kit from San Francisco-based Piper comes with hours worth of games.

But those games are just a means to an end.

"This is a computer kit that kids build themselves to learn about programming," said Tommy Gibbons of Piper.

Games such as these are gaining in popularity largely due to demand from parents.

"Right now everyone wants their kids to learn how to know how to build hardware," said Jeff Lee of Tech Bargains. "They want their kids to know how to build products, code. All in the hopes of getting their kids a better paying job."

Kids learn how to build robots by first snapping pieces into place on an animated model.

They then duplicate their efforts with the actual robot parts.

These robots can also be programmed to mimic various human emotions.

That's the expression of being angry, " said Mai as the Robot lowers his head and snaps its jaws.

The Builderbots kit retails for $100.

You can get the larger Astrobot kit for $200.

For those who want even more technology, the Lynx with Amazon Alexa responds to voice commands.

"So this is a robot that's loaded with Amazon Alexa. You can talk to the robot as if you're talking to Amazon Alexa. It's looking for people's face right now. It will take it after it finds people face. It just took a picture," said Mai.

The Lynx with Amazon Alexa sells for $800.

Over at Piper, they're hoping regular computer games will encourage children to learn.

"So they actually move around Mine Craft World and explore different challenges to show them how to build hardware on top of their computer," said Gibbons.

The games cannot be played without first performing certain tasks on the computer. The Piper Computer Kit sells for $299.

Produced by Randall Yip