Genius of Play Ambassador Spotlight: Jim Seymour, Vice President & CTO of E-Blox
June 11, 2021 | Jim Seymour serves as vice president and chief technical officer (CTO) of E-Blox, the educational electronic toymaker that gives children of all ages the building blocks of a STREAM (Science, Technology, Reading/wRiting, Engineering, the Arts, and Math) education through play. Toy News Tuesday editors spoke with Seymour about his new role as a Play Ambassador for The Genius of Play – and how E-Blox’s mission aligns with The Genius of Play’s work to promote the power of play through hands-on, educational fun.
TNT: How did you get your start in the toy industry and what you are doing now?
JS: My father, Art Seymour, and brother, Joe Seymour, were part of a previous company making and selling educational toys. The three of us had a vision to design, develop, and manufacture the next generation of electronic construction toys that would take fun and education to a whole new level. We co-founded E-Blox about four years ago to realize this vision.
As CTO for the company, my responsibilities range from leading our R&D and engineering teams that create, test and optimize the products, to writing curriculum that complements our products and teaches STEM/STEAM fundamentals in a fun way. In addition, I support our technical sales efforts, manufacturing team in China, and legal team. I also serve as the voice for E-Blox and a voice for the toy industry through webinars, panels sessions, and more promoting the power of play through STEM/STEAM toys.
TNT: Why was it important to you to become a Genius of Play Ambassador and what does play mean to you?
Our mission at E-Blox is to create educational electronic toys and products that engage children to “Learn by Building.” The Toy Association and The Genius of Play have done a fantastic job of highlighting and promoting the power of play. Becoming a Genius of Play Ambassador was important to me not only because our mission at E-Blox aligns so well with that of The Genius of Play, but because now I’m part of a whole community aligned to provide awareness and products/solutions to help our children and youth successfully grow.
There are many definitions of play, but to me the most important parts of play are to be engaged and to have fun. Educating our children and youth is an enormous challenge with all the distractions today, which is why play is so important. Play it is the best way to engage children and youth in fun ways, so that without even realizing it they are gaining skills and knowledge that will help them the rest of their lives.
TNT: Play benefits our emotional and physical wellbeing at any age, so what steps have you taken to make play a part of your daily routine both in and outside of work?
JS: While I may have grown up physically, I’m still a total kid at heart. I love playing games and sports, and I’m lucky enough to have a job where I get to play with E-Blox every day.
At my job, I’m constantly playing with our products to create master builds to show how much fun you can have with E-Blox. I have created a light up eight-foot-tall Christmas tree, a six-foot tower of lights, replicas of the Endeavor Space Shuttle and White Sox stadium, and dozens of light-up mosaics from the Blackhawks logo to a Halloween skull to a beautiful unicorn. I just love playing with E-Blox!
Outside of my job, I’m an avid golfer (note: I said avid golfer, not good golfer). I usually walk 18 holes two to three times a week in the spring and summer. My daughter also got me into Pokémon Go when the pandemic hit last March, and I’m already at level 40. It’s a great game because it makes you walk (physical benefit) and work with your friends (social/emotional benefits) to win those Legendary Pokémon raids. Some of my other play passions outside of work are ping pong, card games, and video games.
TNT: What is your favorite toy and/or play memory?
JS: My favorite game growing up was Stratego. I remember playing chess with my dad, but chess was so complicated and he was so good at it that I could never beat him. When Stratego came out, it was much simpler but still had a lot of strategy to it. Plus I could beat my dad at Stratego, which gave me a lot of confidence that I could grow up and be as smart and successful as him some day (even though I still can’t beat him at chess). I’ve also been a huge sports fan since birth and remember playing Statis Pro Baseball, Basketball, and Football for hours, which emulate games with player cards and collecting all kinds of statistics that certainly helped me in my statistics classes in school!
TNT: How do you think we as a society can better incorporate play into our lives?
JS: Better incorporating play into schools and education is essential. STEM classes that incorporate a lot of different educational toys are a great start and a great model to emulate in all classes. Great teachers will find ways to create hands-on activities, small group projects, games or puzzles that engage students no matter what the subject. I truly believe play is the best way to learn, so finding more ways to incorporate play into school and education will significantly help our children and youth.
Outside of school, we as parents and adults should treat play with equal importance to our children and youth as getting their homework done. Encouraging children and engaging them in afterschool activities and sports provides enormous benefits for both children and adults, helping them build social skills, confidence, and to be active and engaged with their community.
Jim Seymor is the vice president & CTO of E-Blox. To learn more about the company and its upcoming product, Circuit Blox Build Your Own Bubble Making Machine, available this August, visit myeblox.com and follow E-Blox on Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, and Twitter.
This interview is part of an ongoing series that spotlights the members of The Genius of Play.