Tech Talk: Osmo Review
At The Public Library of Mount Vernon and Knox County (OH), we are in the process of creating our MakerSpace. Because our space is a smaller space, we are focusing on tech that can be used in a variety of ways which for us has meant iPads. One of the tools we bought and evaluated to use in our MakerSpace is Osmo. Osmo works with an iPad in some pretty unique ways.
What is Osmo?
Osmo is an iPad gaming and creation station. It is a pack that you purchase separately to use with an iPad. It is unique in that it uses a reflective device to make the area in front of your iPad your play or creation space. It takes your iPad out into a more 3D space.
It turns out that Osmo is targeted more towards a younger age group then teens, but it has some versatility that makes it very workable for a Tween and Teen targeted space. And the Masterpiece part is really awesome. The official website is here. You do have to set up an Osmo account and download each app for each component individually. And there really is the potential that they can create more apps to use with the camera device and expand the ways in which you can use Osmo.
- Genius Kit includes a set of 5 different games that allows children to explore science, math, art, and more!
- Kids and adults alike can cultivate their minds and creativity through Osmo’s games
- System comes with reflector, base and five apps: Words, Tangram, Newton, Masterpiece, Numbers
- Designed for anyone aged 6 and up, this educational toy can be enjoyed by nearly everyone in the family
- Works with latest iPads: iPad 2, iPad 3, iPad 4 iPad Mini, iPad Mini Retina, iPad Air
Osmo comes in a variety of packs: a starter pack or a genius pack. The starter pack has Words, Tangrams and the Base, plus you can download the Newton and Masterpiece app to use with the base. The Genius pack also includes a Numbers set. We bought the standard pack for around $80.00 which means I have not seen how the Numbers set works. The genius pack is $99 on Amazon. Although we didn’t buy the genius pack so we don’t have the Numbers pack, it is available for purchase separately if we wanted to go back and buy it.
The Tangrams set gives you a few shapes and then asks you to recreate the image you see on the screen using those shapes. I started on the medium level thinking it would be easy and it was not. I apparently am not good at Tangrams. I then went back to the easy level and was able to do that okay.
The Words set puts a word on the screen with a missing space and asks you to fill in the blank with the provided letter tiles. These were super easy words so although I thought it wouldn’t have a lot of appeal for teens, I did think it would be useful for those who might be struggling with reading or were learning English as a second language.
The cool part about this feature is that it allows you to upload your own photos and create your own words, so it has adaptability. I thought it would be a fun way to do a school visit or SRC program: You would create a specific word bank for your purposes and allow teens to play a game.
Newton is a game that uses the space in front of your iPad to play a more advanced version of like pong. I am not awesome at video games and I was not awesome at this. As far as games go there is a lot more you can do with an iPad so this was kind of a throwaway in my opinion, definitely not a recent to purchase Osmo.
Masterpiece is a drawing app that uses the camera in pretty unique ways. You take a picture with your iPad and then can turn that picture into a line drawing. You then place a piece of blank paper in front of your tablet and follow the lines on the screen to draw the image you see. Remember how we used to use tracing paper or overhead projectors to recreate images for displays and such? This is a way to do that. While you are doing it the app is also making a video of you creating your masterpiece. And then you can save your masterpiece to the camera roll.
This function has a lot of potential:
- Creating unique coloring sheets out of your pictures
- Making displays, felt pieces, puppets, etc. out of your pictures (you would use your drawing as a template)
- And of course the most basic, just learning how to draw
It was by far my favorite function and I thought worth the price of the entire package. But then I’m obsessed with taking my photos and doing creative things with them.
Although I definitely think a lot of this is better for younger kids and tweens, there are some ways that the play can be personalized and I think there is a benefit to that. Also, the Masterpiece function is really cool and I really would buy it for that alone.
Have you used Osmo? Please share your thoughts and experiences in the comments.
About Karen Jensen, MLS
Karen Jensen has been a Teen Services Librarian for almost 30 years. She created TLT in 2011 and is the co-editor of The Whole Library Handbook: Teen Services with Heather Booth (ALA Editions, 2014).
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