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CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--A first-of-its-kind sports science toy--developed by a
Weston-based toy maker in collaboration with faculty and staff at the
Massachusetts Institute of Technology--is heading into retail stores.
"This is teaching kids how to use science to be a better ballplayer
or bike racer or whatever by using scientific principles," explained
Joan Roth, founder of ScienceMedia and an MIT graduate (1981). "It's
brains over brawn."
The first four SportsScience (TM) kits--focusing on football,
basketball, baseball and soccer--were assembled at the Veterans
Administration Hospital in Bedford in August. The toys teach children
how to play and excel at a sport by using simple tools and experiments
that demonstrate scientific principles.
Each kit comes in a box with nine tips on sports techniques,
experiments, scientific explanation and many of the materials needed to
do each experiment. The kits are designed for boys and girls 7 to 13 and
will retail for $10. The toys will be sold through independent chains
such as Learning Smith, World of Science and Teach Smart. Roth is
working with Schylling Associates in Ipswich, MA as the distributor.
Plans are eventually to have a line of 20 kits, according to Roth.
The next kits to be ready--all designed entirely by the MIT community--
are those on hockey, skating, running, cycling and swimming, plus
Olympic sports. In addition, both software and a television series based
on the sports science toys are currently being written. "ScienceMedia
wants to use every channel available to reach as many people as
possible," said Roth.
Roth came up with the idea for the company over a year ago at an
auction she co-chaired to raise money for MIT's Council for Primary and
Secondary Education. The Council was established in 1991 to address
problems in American K-12 education, particularly in science and
mathematics. Royalties from the SportsScience toy line will go to the
"Working with ScienceMedia gives us an opportunity to reach a much
larger segment of the population with educational messages about
science," said Ron Latanision, MIT professor of materials science and
engineering and chairman of the Council.
"It is an important way to let children and their parents see math
and science as a part of their lives," he said. "By the time a child
reaches college age, their feelings toward science and math are set. We
need to reach them early on."
The Council sponsors a number of programs including The Institute
for Learning and Teaching, a professional development program which
prepared educators and community members for instituting education
reform in their communities. In addition, the Council has developed a
program in which MIT students can become certified to go into teaching
at the elementary and secondary level. A teacher fellows project allows
in-service K-12 teachers to spend extended periods at MIT.