Launched via a worldwide Kickstarter campaign, Cubetto is the Montessori approved programming toy specifically designed for preliterate children, ages three and older, that teaches the basics of computer programming and STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) skills without the use of a screen.
The Cubetto Playset consists of a friendly wooden robot, a physical programming console with a set of 16 colorful coding blocks, a beautifully designed map and activity book to get users started. It can be used by sighted and nonsighted children in the same setting – creating an equal learning environment that promotes inclusive play. By combining movement, touch and sound, Cubetto also helps children with disabilities strengthen their sequencing and communication skills.
Part of the Arduino At Heart program, Cubetto provides genderneutral play that boosts a child’s creativity, critical thinking, spatial awareness and communication skills. A beta version of the product, which raised over $80,000 (nearly £57,000) on Kickstarter in 2013, is used by more than 300 schools and 500 families in over 40 countries worldwide. Following years of testing and numerous iterations, Cubetto now boasts a learning platform that expands and connects to a limitless number of devices via Bluetooth.
Cubetto is the flagship product of Primo Toys. Primo recently ran a successful Crowdcube campaign raising $438,000 (£304,920). The company has enjoyed the support of high profile investors, including Randi Zuckerberg and Arduino cofounder Massimo Banzi, and has partnered with PCH on the development and manufacturing of the product, ensuring a timely delivery for Kickstarter backers. Early buyers will receive the product in time for the 201617 school year.
“Learning to program in early years is essential, but it should also be fun, playful and age appropriate,” said Filippo Yacob, CoFounder & CEO of Cubetto.“Our mission is to help children develop and realize their full creative potential. Cubetto is an openended toy that makes learning computer programming fun and easy to grasp. We’re proud to offer children ages three and up an inclusive, interactive playset that teaches them the basic concepts of programming before they learn to read or write.”
Cubetto is being launched at a time when many school curriculums require students to learn computing from five years old and up, and schools are starting to use toys to teach STEM skills. However, many children still lack exposure to the fundamentals of computer science at a young age. Cubetto addresses this deficit through handson play that makes learning programming more approachable.
“When I think about backing a product or a company, I ask myself, ‘Would I want this product in my own home?’ and ‘Would I give this to my kids?’” said investor Randi Zuckerberg. “What I love most about Cubetto is that it will give girls and boys all over the world the opportunity to learn the basic building blocks of coding, without being glued to a computer screen. As a mom, that’s my dream.”
“It enables open ended play, and a tangible entry into programming, which is key to introducing coding in early years’” said shareholder Massimo Banzi. “An important aspect of the product, is that it is open. It enables a user to discover new play paradigms as the child grows. The toy is never obsolete, but can evolve, and become a starting point for further exploration and learning”
“It seems that Primo Toys may have succeeded in designing the ideal technology toy,” said Melissa Stockdale, authority and lifelong expert in Montessori learning. “Cubetto integrates perfectly into the Montessori learning environment, and above all satisfies and encourages young children in an enjoyable way – one that develops their logical thinking in preparation for becoming competent and successful programmers of the future.”
Primo Toys is an alumni of PCH Highway1 hardware accelerator program. “Primo Toys has the qualities that PCH looks for in a successful startup: passionate founders and a compelling product idea that will make a positive impact on the world,” said David Austin, PCH general manager of startup programs. “The Cubetto Playset teaches children the fundamentals of computer programing through interactive, handson play. We are proud to support Primo Toys and ship the Cubetto Playset to families around the world.”
The Cubetto Kickstarter campaign runs from March 8 through April 7, 2016. Early backers receive early bird $149 pricing. MSRP retail is $225. The basic pack includes the robot, console, a set of 16 colorful coding blocks, map and activity book. Additional educational discounts will be available for classroom packs of 4, 8 and 16 playsets.