November 25, 2002 at 3:35 PM CST - Updated June 17 at 9:24 PM
South Elementary second graders in Jackson get to test an electronic snowboard, the Easy Bake Oven, a Cotton Candy Maker, and a Monster's Inc. computer game called Scare Island.
Amy Jacquin admits, going into this test, she's thinking the Snowboard will be the big winner. "Watch out dude!" And lots of these Jackson boys are bug-eyed as they watch the screen. But GIRLS don't seem to care about climbing on.
"I already smell it already!" one second-grade girl says as she bounces up and down by the Easy Bake Oven.
Groups gather around the Easy Bake Oven and Cotton Candy Maker... along with many boys.
"Do we get to eat it after we're done?" several kids want to know.
THAT'S what sweetens this deal! There's something about TASTING your creation that has kept kids coming back to the $25 Easy Bake Oven all these years. And not much has changed... it's still a mess waiting to happen... and adults still need to supervise the batter making and baking.
"Don't push the pan in with your fingers... just barely set it in there," Amy Jacquin helps out. "And we need to time it. What's the time, guys?"
There's lots of waiting around... and some of these South Elementary second graders do scurry around to check-out the other games.
"Push start," says Mrs Reagan, who's watching over the Cotton Candy Maker. "Okay. Nothing happens."
The Cotton Candy Maker is finicky. "What did we do different?" she mumbles. "It was working a minute ago." The on-off button gets stuck... likely because of sugar-sticky fingers. And if you don't get the lid on nice and tight, it won't start. But with lots of help from Mrs. Reagan, these kids finally figure it out, and get a taste of success.
There's not really much "playing" involved with this $15 machine. But the teacher agrees it spins a web of candy that tastes like it should. And kids keep crowing around. By the end of our visit, they're using it without teacher's help.
They also figure out Monster's Inc Scare Island.
"Oh, I see one!" yells one excited boy, helping his classmate play. Only one at a time can play this $20 computer game. Yet classmates don't seem to mind watching, and helping guide the player.
Meanwhile, back at the Easy Bake Oven, Amy asks, "Do you think that looks done? No!" It's time to take-out our first batch of what's supposed to be cookies. "Eeew! I'm not eating that!" The cookies are still runny and obviously not close to being done.
The Easy Bake Oven holds true to form, and requires lots of additional cooking time. And after it's in there twice as long as directed, the kids WANT to taste the cookies. This time they think it's pretty tasty, and beg to bake another batch. But that's another story!
"Lean on me if you need to," says one boy to his classmate trying the snowboard. "Hold my arm. There you go!" At least snowboarding seems to promote sportsmanship! And it requires precise physical movement... not much, but it's better than sitting on a couch for a video game. Plus, this $45 game can't be bad for balance, either.
The Snowboard is a winner, even at $45. We give it an A. The $15 Cotton Candy machine has its quirks, and you won't want your child using it much because of all the sugar. But it does spin webs of candy, and earns a B-minus. The classic Easy Bake Oven still performs... not necessarily any BETTER, but you can create your own treats. At $25 we give it a C-plus. And the $20 Monster's Inc Scare Island computer game is flat-out cute! It gets an A, as the kids took right to it.