The world of children’s playtime as we know it is about to make a seismic shift. Oh, there will still be cars and trucks, dolls and building toys, and of course video games. But now there will also be digital experiences.
Despite a dramatic increase in the number of businesses that need coders, students just aren’t flocking to the STEM fields. Case in point: 2.4 million STEM jobs are projected to go unfilled by 2018. Recognizing the gap in technology education, Mattel announced an expanded partnership with Tynker, the No. 1 kids coding platform, and a commitment to introduce 10 million kids to coding by 2020.
“Computational thinking will soon permeate every field, so understanding computer logic and learning how to program at an early age will arm kids with the tools they’ll need to succeed in the not-so-distant future,” Krishna Vedati, Tynker’s co-founder and CEO, told LinkedIn.
The mission is well under way. Mattel and Tynker have already reached 4 million kids through their online programming experiences since the partnership began in 2015 (the first two themed challenges used Hot Wheels and Monster High characters). Part of their success comes from the idea that you don’t start kids out coding artificial intelligence to beat the Turing test—instead, you start them out coding sequences so that they can role play as Barbie Pet Vet.
Mattel and Tynker have already reached 4 million kids through their online programming experiences since the partnership began in 2015
“By exposing kids to STEM experiences on Tynker through Mattel characters they know and love, they may develop a passion for science and computing that could lead them to a career in a STEM-related field,” said Sven Gerjets, Chief Technology Officer of Mattel. In addition to Barbie coding lessons, 2018 key initiatives include a Mattel Code-A-Thon and global student engagements to promote the Computer Science Education Week Hour of Code.
“Through this collaboration, we continue our commitment to providing meaningful play experiences that are fun while helping kids with STEM learning, an important 21st century learning skill,” said Gerjets.
As technology reshapes the modern workplace, computer programming skills will undoubtedly be useful for children to learn, even if they don’t ultimately pursue a STEM-related career path.
By integrating coding across brands like Barbie and Hot Wheels, a wider range of kids—and not just robot lovers—can gain exposure to an essential, future-building skill.