Jan 31, 2018 | By Tess

Kids can now play with Albert Einstein’s childhood toys thanks to the "Open Einstein" 3D scanning and printing initiative led by the Real Play Coalition.

In a world increasingly filled with screens and technology, people bemoan lost social traditions and experiences—like asking a restaurant to use its landline because your friend is an hour late in meeting you. But perhaps one of the most significant impacts of our tech-crazed society is on children.

Research has found that most of today’s children spend less time outdoors per day than maximum security prisoners, while 61% of children say they don’t know how to play without using technology. More and more, children are becoming infatuated with screen-based communication and games, and some worry that this will be detrimental to them in the long run. “Real play,” as the recently founded Real Play Coalition explains, “is the freedom for children to engage with and learn from the world that surrounds them.”

“By mentally and physically connecting children to the world, play empowers them to create and grow for the rest of their lives. It is a fundamental right for all children,” it continues.

The Real Play Coalition, which presented its initiative at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, is a group consisting of members from Unilever, the LEGO Foundation, and IKEA. Together, the companies are aiming to promote the importance of physical playtime for kids, something which they believe is going by the wayside. The Coalition also invites other political, corporate and academic leaders to join them in taking action to promote and protect real play. 

A key element of this plan was the 3D scanning of Albert Einstein’s favorite childhood toys: Anker-Steinbaukasten (aka anchor stone blocks). The building set, popular in Germany at the end of the 19th century, consists of 160 small stone blocks in red brick, tan limestone, and blue slate.

Einstein is said to have loved the toys and used them to build complicated structures. People even believe the toy blocks had an important role in developing Einstein’s own understanding structures in the world, which formed the foundation for his revolutionary scientific theories.

The actual set of anchor stone blocks that Einstein played with as a child was sold for about £113,000 ($160,288) to an American collector by the name of Seth Kaller, who allowed the Real Play Coalition to 3D scan the toy box and its contents for a good cause.

Now, the coalition is making Einstein’s childhood toys available to all by releasing the 3D files for the toy set. All you need is access to a 3D printer to recreate it.

By encouraging people to 3D print Einstein’s set of Anker-Steinbaukasten, the group is aiming to get kids and their parents interested in actual, physical play. Importantly, the coalition hopes its initiative will remind educators and parents alike that there are more substantial and creative ways of learning things than standardized testing and knowledge retention.

“The importance of the skills play promotes in the face of our changing world has never been higher,” said the coalition in regards to a world which is increasingly developing and adopting machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies.

“When children play, for instance, they practice original thinking, which is one of the main cognitive processes in creativity. Construction play in early childhood correlates to the development of spatial visualization skills, which are strongly connected to mathematic capabilities and problem-solving skills in later life… Play is needed to endow us with leaders who can resolve conflict, problem solve, build socially connected communities and inspire society to flourish.”

Makers, parents, and kids interested in 3D printing Einstein’s stimulating childhood toy set can download the 3D models for free here.



Posted in 3D Printing Application



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