in Science and Nature Education Reach Out to Children
By Michaele Birney Arneson
Geographic, long a bastion of science education, and other educational
institutions are leading a charge into the broader toy market by raising
brand awareness through a variety of games, toys, and activities.
Geographic Planet Frog
Founded in 1888, the National Geographic Society is the world's largest
nonprofit scientific and educational organization. With a commitment
to "the increase and diffusion of geographic knowledge," they now
market a number of science and nature-based learning activities for
Beginning explorers can learn about exotic animals and far away places
with National Geographic's flashcard sets, Animals of Our World
and Famous Places and Worldly Wonders ($3.99, for ages 6 and
up). Each card contains a full-color picture of the subject along
with a set of interesting facts.
For slightly older adventurers, National Geographic's Flower and
Leaf Pressing Kit ($8.99, for ages 7and up) contains a wood press,
construction paper, stencils, pencils and a nature journal. Planet
Frog ($24.95, for ages 8 and up) contains an enclosed habitat
simulating a frog's environment, tadpole food, and a mail-in certificate
for the actual tadpoles.
popular National Geographic tradition is the annual Washington D.C.-based
GeoBee competition, where many of the brightest students in the U.S.
gather to test their knowledge about the world. Now, some of those
same questions are included in its GeoBee Challenge Game ($19.95,
for ages 8 and up), with skill levels ranging from novice to expert
so all members of the family can participate.
GeoBee Challenge Game
Smithsonian Institution, established in 1846, is the world's largest
museum complex with 16 museums and the National Zoo. An important
center for research, the Smithsonian is committed to public education,
national service, and scholarship in the arts, sciences and history.
As such, it makes sense that they also have a number of products designed
to educate children about science.
science enthusiasts, the Smithsonian's boxed Science Starters
($6.29, for ages 6 and up) provide a good introduction. The series
includes Crystal Growing Geodes, Five Power Telescope, Astronomy
Lab, Dinosaurs (two different sets) and Magnet Lab.
For more experienced science seekers, another series, Smart Labs
($10.49, for ages 8 and up), provides more challenges. This series
includes Bioscope, Crystal Growing, Rock and Gem Dig, Crystal Radio,
Chemistry, and Volcano.
newcomer on the science and education block, the Discovery Channel's
Animal Planet is reaching past the airwaves to bring wildlife discovery
Planet Sea Life Bucket Collection
Like the Smithsonian, much of the Animal Planet line is produced in
series format. Its line of Bucket Collections ($10.99, for
ages 3 and up), consists of groupings of bugs, sea life, reptiles,
dinosaurs, safari, forest and barnyard animals, all in a wide-mouthed,
plastic bucket. A similar, but smaller version of these collections
is the To Go Collections ($7.99, for ages 3 and up), which
include animal assortments that fit neatly in a clear plastic backpack
for the smallest of adventurers.
For children especially interested in dinosaurs, the Animal Planet
line offers the Dino-Model Kit ($19.99, for ages 6 and up),
a three-dimensional wood puzzle kit that resembles a reconstructed
Writer's Bio: Michaele Birney Arneson is a freelance writer
and editor, specializing in children’s topics, education and
employment, health science, and environmental issues.