Mar. 14 - A Czech company has developed a computerised, interactive device it calls a ''Magic Box''. Half teaching tool, half toy, the box is designed to teach children about modern technologies in a playful way. Jim Drury has more.
UPSOT: KIDS CHEERING For these kindergarten kids' it's the favourite time of day......when their teacher brings out the Magic Box. Equipped with a powerful data processor and projector, it's revolutionising early learning, says teacher Blanka Ptackova. SOUNDBITE (Czech) TEACHER, BLANKA PTACKOVA, SAYING: "We use the Magic Box in the school's first and second years. The Magic Box works as a normal computer. We connect it to the Internet, and can use memory cards, CDs or DVDs. We also create our own programmes and web pages on it." The box projects onto a mat laid on the floor, enabling children to play and work together, while learning computer skills. It can be operated with either an electric pen or mouse and keyboard. SOUNDBITE (Czech) TEACHER, BLANKA PTACKOVA, SAYING: "The projection area on the floor is very important for small children because they're using motor skills and also their preceptors, senses which are necessary to help coordination. This is enormously important for children with physical or learning disabilities." UPSOT: MUSIC The Magic Box is the brainchild of Prague-based firm Projektmedia, owned by Jaroslav Vesely. SOUNDBITE (Czech) PROJEKTMEDIA DIRECTOR AND OWNER, JAROSLAV VESELY, SAYING: "We sold more than 100 to kindergartens in three months. It's mainly because we fulfilled the three most requested factors: mobility, for children to play on the ground and, of course, low price." But what's the verdict from the kids? Six year old Klara Victorova is a fan. SOUNDBITE (Czech) SIX-YEAR-OLD SCHOOLCHILD, KLARA VIKTOROVA SAYING: "I like the maths lessons in the first year, which showed animals going on vacations." UPSOT: BOY SPEAKING Petr Cales agrees. He says the interactive witch game is his favourite. A recipient of the Grand Prix Award at last year's Trade Fair for Toys in Prague, the Magic Box is becoming an increasingly popular interactive device in Czech schools. Projektmedia say the Magic Box is simple to set up and easy to use.....child's play, in fact.