Studying topics like science and math can often be a tedious activity for kids. A new app aims to change that, letting youngsters interact with mobile devices in a fun and educational way.
James Wilson and Alex Spiro, the co-founders of digital production company Minilab Studios, recently worked with a team of animators, developers, academics and illustrators to launch their first app, "Professor Astro Cat's Solar System."
Available on the App Store for $2.99, the educational game is based on Professor Astro Cat's Frontiers of Space, a children's book written by quantum computer scientist Dominic Walliman and illustrated by award-winning artist Ben Newman. The book, published in 2013, follows the galactic journey of a well-educated cat exploring just about any astrophysics-related topic under the sun -- from the the birth of the universe, to individual planets, to extraterrestrial life.
Wilson and Spiro's game converts the book into an app for kids 7-10. In an interview with HuffPost Live, they explained that educational apps can make the subjects of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) attractive to young children.
"These days there's actually a massive gap in the STEM-related professions: I think, in America, for every unemployed person there are 1.9 jobs that are available in STEM-related professions," Spiro said. "So what we wanted to do with Minilab is to sort of address that by introducing kids to science, engineering and math at an early age."
In addition, the Minilab creators believe that apps like "Professor Astro Cat's Solar System" could alleviate another pressing parenting issue: quality screen time for children.
Most kids in the United States, regardless of socio-economic background, have access to one or more popular electronic devices, including computers, smart phones and tablets. The proliferation of apps has prompted parents to question how much screen time is too much. Lately, though, the conversation has shifted from screen time to screen use.
"Children are sort of being drawn naturally to [tablets and gaming], and what we have to do is have a look and make sure that the content is still king and the screen time still matters," Wilson said. "So we want to inject fun and make fun and play and learning synonymous."
In the future, Minilabs plans to expand beyond science and astrophysics, offering apps for kids 3-10 on different subjects.