World News

Toy company races to the finish line on Kickstarter

Published on: December 23rd, 2013

Award-winning social enterprise Twenty One Toys is in the final stretch of its 30-day crowdfunding campaign to produce 1,000 Empathy Toy sets, which kicked off on November 28th.empathytoys300

The toy, which is available for pre-order at Kickstarter.com, has been hailed by teachers, parents, facilitators and counsellors as an innovative tool that develops profound learning and creative communication skills.

The toy empowers K-12 educators by allowing them to ground their lessons in a playful experience. It has proven to be an effective tool for skills like social inquiry, design and entrepreneurial thinking, leadership, and conflict resolution, and its value has been noted outside the classroom, in creative professional development and in the healthcare setting.

While there are over 50 ways to play, in the most basic gameplay a pattern is built with a set of five, 3D wooden puzzle pieces. This shape is given to a player, who then has to instruct another to recreate that exact pattern with an identical set of pieces, and both players are blindfolded.

Since the players are approaching the problem from very different angles, the puzzle can only be solved by imagining what the other person is working with, and creating a common language. In the post-game debrief, the audience and players explore the obstacles and underlying assumptions brought to light during play. Educators and facilitators help shape these discussions using resource guides included in the toy packages.

Organisations like Spin Master and the Canadian Youth Business Foundation have already given their support to Twenty One Toys through awards and micro-loans. The toy has also been featured in two TEDx talks and by outlets like Huffington Post Education.

Over the course of this year, the toys have sold for $400-$500 a set, but Twenty One Toys is now looking to bring the price down to the level of textbooks to make them widely accessible. To lower production costs per unit, the company needs to manufacture at least 1,000 sets, which they hope to achieve by raising $45,000 before December 28th, 2013. Today the company is over 80% of the way to the goal. You can help the company reach its goal and get a reward for yourself by pledging here.

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