American Mensa is offering only its third-ever honorary membership for a fictional character to a device that aims to tie STEM and artistry together for kids.
It’s definitely a smart idea to get forward-thinking about your membership in a world that is evolving in a tech-forward way.
But even considering all that, American Mensa’s decision to offer membership to a robot really stands out. Last week, the group welcomed Artie 3000, a drawing robot, into its honorary member ranks—an area that only includes two prior fictional characters noted for their high IQs: animated pop-culture figures Lisa Simpson and Mr. Peabody.
What made Artie 3000, a wireless-enabled robot that is designed to be programmed by its target audience of young children, such a good fit? According to American Mensa Executive Director Trevor Mitchell, CAE, its appeal could be found in its broader educational goals—which not only touch upon STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) concepts, but also artistry due to its ability to turn drawings into code. This speaks to a related concept to STEM, called STEAM.
“American Mensa and the Mensa Foundation value the importance of coding and STEM-related education,” Mitchell said in a news release. “We fell in love with Artie’s unique ability to develop these skills but through artistic expression.”
Among the tricks the robot knows: It’s familiar with 16 languages, it has a remote control, and it can be controlled via Wi-Fi. Not bad for an artist.
The $69.99 Artie 3000 is part of a growing trend in the educational toy space of tying toys with technology. It’s one that American Mensa supports—it recently conducted a study with Artie’s maker, Educational Insights, that found that 96 percent of parents saw coding as a valuable skill for their children to have. (The results of the study will be made public on the high-IQ society’s site for kids soon.)
The idea is clear here—even if the robot isn’t paying any member dues, it might just inspire a few prospective members who will.