Florence 1 teacher chosen to participate in Nintendo Labo Classroom Program
STEM education takes many forms, from creating weight-bearing structures with straws to exploring the biology of a frog using virtual reality. In Brittany Smith’s REACH classroom at North Vista learning looks like a game, thanks to the Nintendo Labo Classroom Program.
Smith was one of 100 teachers from across the United States chosen to participate in this program that incorporates the Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Labo kits.
"I follow Dr. Brian Housand, Coordinator of Academically or Intellectually Gifted Program at UNCW, on social media," Smith said. "He promotes game-based learning and posted about the Labo Classroom Program. I happened to see the post and applied for the program. I was really excited to be chosen."
Nintendo Switch is a small handheld game console that features two controllers and one screen. Nintendo Labo kits are Do It Yourself (DIY) construction templates with pieces that students pop out and put together to construct objects like RC cars, a fishing pole and even a piano.
During one of the first class periods that Smith’s class used the kits, groups of students took turns following on-screen instructions to build an RC car. Once completed the students used the Nintendo Switch controllers to move the car, eventually building a small obstacle course to maneuver the vehicle through.
"Last year in third grade I taught video game design," Smith said. "When I saw that Nintendo was doing this program, I just thought it was a really great way for students to learn how to use engineering along with the video game console. Nintendo Labo also has the ToyCon Garage program where students can code their own creations. We integrate coding here at REACH and I am excited to start ToyCon Garage with my students soon."
With the new technology and resources in the Labo kit, Smith said it has been extremely helpful to be able to connect with other teachers who are using it.
"The Institute of Play, which sponsors the program, has been a really great resource," Smith said. "They sent us lesson plans and we have Adobe Connect and we'll be able to participate in webinars. The Institute of Play provided us with some great resources and then we come together on Adobe Connect to talk about successes and struggles with the Nintendo Labo Program. It is great that they provide that professional development for teachers."
Smith said she is excited to have a new way to engage her students in learning.
"I believe strongly in purposeful play so that's why I like integrating game-based learning in my classroom," Smith said. "Many students enjoy gaming. By connecting the programs and devices that they already use to math, engineering, and design, I am able to meet my students on their interest level. I also feel that this evens the playing field in my classroom. Some of my students have a Nintendo Switch and Nintendo Labo at home. But not everyone does. Now all of my students can go home and say that they created something on the Nintendo Switch and they have all shared that experience together."