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  • 07.12.16

littleBits at a crossroads: educational tool or toy?

Last we checked in with littleBits, the New York-based maker of modular electronics that function like digital-age Legos, the startup was unveiling a $299.95 kit designed for classrooms.  “Let’s use invention as a way to engage the students, to allow them to create things that are relevant,” founder and CEO Ayah Bdeir told Fast Company

Then, a surprise: Today littleBits announced that it had been accepted into Disney’s prestigious startup accelerator, alongside peers like a toy subscription company called Pley. So is littleBits a curriculum tool, or a toy with ancillary educational benefits? 

Many companies like littleBits argue that they can be both, and that classroom learning should be fun. But the blurry line between the two is often confusing for parents and teachers, who rarely have the time or the training to determine which product claims are backed by data. Let’s hope that Disney encourages littleBits and other companies with classroom potential to commission third-party research on their impact, even as they look to the toy aisle for sales growth. AH