Learning: New Breed of Toys

Advanced placement begins in the nursery, say some perhaps overly worried child development experts: by the time a kid is ready for school, he has already reached more than half his general "achievement level" for life. So educators have awarded Santa Claus a Ph.D., and preschoolers with well-heeled, ambitious parents are acquiring toys that teach concepts of mathematics and science almost before the children can speak in whole sentences.

When the National Science Foundation reported that young children could easily learn a lot about optics, Creative Playthings, Inc. of Cranbury, N.J., invented...

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